Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Dichotomy of My Postings

click on map to enlarge

There is somewhat of a duality that others may notice in my postings and this involves photos from where we were based and where we lived i.e. the Kenema area and most specifically the Dama Rd. section in Nongowa chiefdom, and my psotings about the far north.  It was in Kenema that we were stationed for our two years, while teaching at both the new Holy Rosary Secondary School of Kenema and also at the Kenema Teacher's Training College. Many of my photos are from this area, showing my travel in the bush to small area villages, showing school related pictures, and showing the area where we spent most of our time while in Sierra Leone. It was in this area that I learned of the Women's Bundu Society, and where folks would make me aware when Bundu related activities might be happening. Our neighbors knew both of my interest in learning about Mende ways, and my interest in photography. Many of my neighbors would notify me when things were happening - I would get my camera and my red (in those days) camera bag and head out to see whatever it was that was happening.  The other area where I photographed was in the very far north of Sierra Leone along the Guinea Border. It was in this area that I traveled on two successive trips (March 1969 and again in March 1970) to hike in the Loma Mountains and climb mount Bintimani. Each March I spent one week up in the north, staying in villages, and hiking to the top of West Africa. The village there (Sokurella) was remote, reachable only by bush trail, and the people there were friendly, open and accepting, and surprisingly allowed me to take many a picture. They were of the Kuranko ethnic group (I did not speak Kuranko) with distinctive style of dress (the women did their hair in unusual grouped braids on each side of their head that I had not seen before).  Sokurella was far away from the rest of Sierra Leone, and although things European were certainly creeping in by that time, there was no connection to the outside world except by radio which very few people possessed, and by a long bust trail.  The two short weeks I spent in Kuranko country by no means made me expert in the Kuranko, but I certainly appreciated how warm and welcoming the people there were to a stranger. 

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