Pa Joseph was probably in his late 50's when we met. Very loyal to the Catholic Mission sisters, he had been in Burma with the West African Forces organized by the British during WW II. There he had been a staff cook and had learned how to cook for Europeans. On his return after the War he had been hired by the Holy Rosary sisters to cook for them - and this he did quite well. A soft spoken man - he did his work professionally and his meals were met with approval by the convent sisters who lived and worked on our school compound. In those days there were perhaps a half dozen sisters living in the convent. From time to time visiting sisters from elsewhere in the country would visit. Then of course there were the holidays in which special meals were prepared, and from time to time Susan and I would be invited. Pa Joseph and the sisters even helped us to celebrate our own (US) holidays such as Thanksgiving - at which time we would break bread with the sisters in the convent as they helped us to feel at home.
photo © by Chad Finer
Here Pa Joseph Simbo (left in photo) - cook for the Catholic Mission convent in Kenema - buys some local fruit for a convent meal. In this picture is Susan talking to some young children and also Esther Kajue one of our TTC students. Location: #55 Dama Road in Kenema - taken in 1969. The man on the right was a visitor to the area probably from the north or from Guinea. The small "market" next to him on the veranda was owned by Pa Karankey - a man (Mandingo) originally from Guinea who had come to Kenema to live. I suspect that this man was visiting him. [click on picture to enlarge it]
Pa Joseph's meals were uncomplicated and usually consisted of meat (frequently lamb chops obtained at the 'cold storage' in Kenema Town), and fruit and vegetables - some of which might be purchased locally. He prepared 3 meals daily for them working from early morning to after sunset daily. A Mende man - I remember little about his family (he did have a wife and I think a young child). He lived off the convent grounds. He was generally a pleasant man of few words. My attempts from time to time to engage him in controversy were always met with deaf ears. His life was essentially serving the sisters and although other issues may have from time to time bothered him - he would never let on to me when issues effected him or bothered him. He was somewhat vain in that he saw to it that his greying hair never showed (he dyed it weekly). He dressed impeccably usually in an ironed white shirt and black trousers. For the most part the sisters treated him well and with respect. Several times they would chastise him for lapses in his performance but this rarely riled him. When I made a somewhat feeble attempt to organize school compound workers/laborers - he was unwilling to take part. Known as Pa Joseph Cook - Joseph Simbo was an integral part of the successful running of the Convent. A very pleasant man.