Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Momoh, Mansaray, and Senesi

Our Dama Rd neighborhood was made up of a mix of folks from nightwatchmen at Forest Industries (Pa Garlough), to laborers (Patrick Garlough), to the head of the area Bondo (Mama Hokey Kemoh), to schoolboys and also schoolgirls. Across from us lived Momoh and Mansaray Vandy and Senesi Edward Lahai - all were schoolboys at Holy Trinity Secondary School of Kenema. Momoh and Mansaray came from east of Kenema - I think the Kailahun area and boarded in Mama Hokey's house (#55 Dama Rd). Senesi was small - I think he had been ill as a child and was certainly smaller then his piers. He was very personable, funny, and did very well in school. He also enjoyed coming by our house to talk and from time to time he would accompany me on one of my hikes to local villages such as Foindu. Senesi's roommates were Mansaray and Momoh Vandy. Mansaray was the more serious of the brothers but both were fun loving and not averse to playing practical jokes - one which backfired on them. This involved their teaching me Mende "greetings" which when I tried them out on their host mother across the road (Mama Hokey) led to her going into her room, getting a soft stick, and then wacking the boys with it. She was immediately aware of what had transpired when I used these so called greetings on her. And the boys paid the price for their prank. What they had really taught me was some of the most vulgar of Mende expressions - and it was Mama Hokey who was horrified by their teaching me this. For me - after the initial silence following my 'greetings' - I realized what had happened. Of course the boys never imagined that I would remember, never mind use the 'greetings." Boys will be boys - no matter where you live.
One other event comes to my memory - when I told Mansaray that I could cut hair (and give him a haircut). I honestly thought I could, that is until I ended up butchering his hair in the process. He was not very happy with the result and to be honest, neither was I. As I went about cutting his hair, Momoh and Senesi looked on somewhat in horror. Oh well - at least there was no permanence to what I had done and Mansaray's hair eventually grew back and the patches that I had created filled in. In those days the boys were about 14 years of age - which if they are still alive makes them about 55 years old now. I wonder how these "boys" are now doing.

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