Every morning, during the school week, I listened to the primary school kids on our school compound sing their national anthem. Although it certainly was not a requirement, both Susan and I learned the words to the first verse and sometimes I’d sing along as I walked toward class. We both enjoyed the wonderful accented Sierra Leone English and sometimes, in a very positive imitation, I would try to mimic this in my own singing. It got so habit forming that eventually whenever I eventually sang this, the accent of these very young Kenema school children became imprinted in my mind – and I sang along with their accent. Here I am writing this brief piece some 44 years later – and I can sing the anthem and can hear these young kids in my mind – with their precious and wonderful accents. This was but one of the many songs that I heard them chant during my days at school. There were also many nursery rhymes that they recited - I remember the way they did these as well. On the HRSS school compound there were actually 3 schools – the Holy Rosary primary school, the new HRSS secondary school, and the Kenema Teacher’s Training College which was due to be fazed out in 1970 with its last class. We were involved at each level in some way.
High we exalt thee, realm of the free;
Great is the love we have for thee;
Firmly united ever we stand,
Singing thy praise, O native land.
We raise up our hearts and our voices on high,
The hills and the valleys re-echo our cry;
Blessing and peace be ever thine own,
Land that we love, our Sierra Leone.
One with a faith that wisdom inspires,
One with a zeal that never tires;
Ever we seek to honour thy name
Ours is the labour, thine the fame.
We pray that no harm on thy children may fall,
That blessing and peace may descend on us all;
So may we serve thee ever alone,
Land that we love our Sierra Leone.
Knowledge and truth our forefathers spread,
Mighty the nations whom they led;
Mighty they made thee, so too may we
Show forth the good that is ever in thee.
We pledge our devotion, our strength and our might,
Thy cause to defend and to stand for thy right;
All that we have be ever thine own,