(double click on any photo to enlarge)This man is harvesting rice in the swamp divided by Dama Road - just outside of Kenema. Our trips to Kenema led past this swamp as we walked into Kenema. Picture taken in January 1969.
This view from outside Kenema and looking south, shows the "plateau" on which we lived. On the right and left of this picture was a large swamp where, in places rice was grown (see photo above). On the right you can see some of the Fula cows being pastured. To the right of the road up on the plateau is the compound of Pa Maju Bah, who was Fula section chief. about a half mile beyond him was our house.
We arrived in Kenema in August 1968. We were the first in-country training program in the Peace Corps. Our first two months were spent in Freetown at a special summer school established to help us in refining our teaching skills. At this time we were also having daily language training (we were taught Krio). We were living in Freetown with Sierra Leone host families (our was at 77 Pademba Road with Mrs. Lottie Nelson-Williams and family). In August we all moved to Njala and to the agricultural college there to continue our language training, to learn about agriculture in Sierra Leone, and to continue education discussions. At Njala both Sierra Leoneans and instructors from the Agricultural school of the University of Illinois taught us about the staples of Sierra Leone. We learned how to grow rice. Language instruction accelerated at Njala - we were taught Krio using the Rassias Method - a method of language instruction that worked well for me. Then off we went - our training finished - to Kenema and our assignment at the newly established Holy Rosary Secondary School on Dama Road in Kenema. Our quarters were on the edge of the HRSS school compound. The school had been a Teacher's Training College run by the sisters of the Holy Rosary. In those years the sisters were mostly from Ireland. Some of the sisters had been in Nigeria before coming to Sierra Leone - but were driven from Nigeria with the Biafran War that was going on at that time. Some of the sisters had been in West African for more than a decade. Our school was about a mile or more from the center of Kenema. In those days Dama Road was paved until just beyond the school compound. Where we lived - on a plateau to the south of Kenema - was made up of the school and at that time a small settlement of houses. The next village to our south - Tokpombu was less that a mile from us. It was Dama Road that we walked on in order to get to Kenema. Off our plateau it would go across a wet area where some swamp rice was planted and harvested and where the Fula had some cows pasturing. Over the swampy area you would then arrive at the outskirts of town - where on each side there were some Lebanese stores and their homes above. Dama Road would lead right into the town center. The walk from our house to town center was a half hour - a pleasant walk. Dama Road connected Kenema and Nongowa Chiefdom with Dama Chiefdom, some 6 miles to our south.