Sunday, April 15, 2012

Travel to Koindu

snake manFirst saw him in Kenema at the Cacao Show there. I also saw him in Koindu, Kailahun District, Eastern Province. The picture to the right was taken in Kenema December 1968. I was told that this man died of a snake bite two weeks after I saw him in Koindu

   all photos © by Chad Finer

illicit diamond miners - Koindu, Kailahun District, Eastern Province

Travel to the international market and to Koindu from where we lived (Kenema) took a full day of travel by public transport. At some point early in our second year we

photo store with wall advertising in Koindu

decided to travel there to see this town situated in Kissi Country and at the point where the borders of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone came together. From Kenema our transport headed south to Dama Chiefdom before turning to the east, eventually crossing into the Kailahun District, and passing through the towns of Daru, Pendembu, and Kailahun before reaching Koindu. Remember several parts of this trip including having our transport held up by soldiers who wanted to talk to me before letting us go on. They pulled me off the transport and one of the officers wanted to lecture to me about discrimination in Washington DC. When I had little to say to him in response he let me get back in the lorry and head on. At another point just outside Koindu proper we were delayed again by diamond diggers who had completely dug up our road making it impassable. The story we heard was that earlier in the day, after a rain, someone had found a diamond in the road, and soon after this discovery diamond miners came to the spot and started digging for other diamonds. By the time of our arrival the entire road was a mess and our transport had to make a considerable detour in order to get into the town. I do not remember where we stayed on that visit - perhaps with fellow Peace Corps volunteers. The international market was rich in variety and size. Here people from Sierra Leone, met up with Guineans, and Liberians. The market was vast and there was much going on. In one section I came upon men dressed in Western style suits an playing both drums and proselytizing. I was to learn that these men were from a Liberian church called Church of Lord Aladhura. I remember it being late in the day as I was walking about = and there being quite a crowd around these men listening to what they had to say. It was also in this large market that I ran into a very eccentric man who also drew quite a crowd. Very unusual in appearance and behavior, he carried with him a collection of live and poisonous snakes including spitting black cobras, a Gaboon viper, and green mambas. I think I had also seen this man in Kenema one time during the Kenema Trade Show. While the crowd surrounded him and his snakes he would dialogue with them while "playing" with the snakes. The snakes were large. Since I had made quite an effort to learn about the poisonous snakes in the area I could easily identify them and of course I knew how poisonous they were so I gave him and them plenty of room. I took a number of photos as he went through his act.

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