I have made it to Makeni, my second community this afternoon. It is a good deal bigger than Lungi, but despite the electricity poles, I still do not have electricity during the day, or the internet, so once again these blogs will be few and far between until I get back to Freetown. My stay in Lungi was excellent and I now have over 20 factors that seem to influence postconflict community development in that chieftaincy. I think that is a good start, and I’m happy with what I’ve got so far. I have also managed to transcribe all the interviews (some of them I had no choice but to do them while I was there for translation sake- although many people speak and understand English, they are far more comfortable in their native tongue and I find are more willing to talk in depth when they can do it that way, rather than in English). My Krio is not getting better and do have to rely on my translators a lot, even though I can now at least get the gist of what people are telling me.
I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to two traditional ceremonies now, one a marriage ceremony, the other a naming ceremony. They were both interesting (and yes, I was in traditional African garb for both, and yes, I look a bit ridiculous by Western standards but got heaps of compliments here. It seems people are really happy that I am trying to fit in with the culture.) I also experienced my first slaughtering of a goat for traditional purposes – they did cut up the goat for meat and hand it out to the guests, so it did not go to waste. I am still processes how I feel about that- the rationale and anthropological side gets it, the emotional side is still a bit scared- we bought live chickens today for my meal, I don’t think I have to see them kill those though… I’ll let you know.
The children here love westerners and love to have their photos taken. They always want you to give them something, and although I did bring pens and pencils, some notepads, some candy, and some stickers, I have yet to decide how I feel about handing them out. While we were on Semester at Sea we did a lot of this, but now I feel as though the children are expecting westerners to give them things and I am not sure if that is a good thing or not. I have been reserving my handouts to the children I get to know and the families I interview as opposed to handing things out on the streets. The children seem amused enough with the photos, or “snaps” as they call them.
We are finally starting to get some rain, but not nearly as much as they normally get this time of year- thanks climate change! We had a rain, thunder, and lightening storm that took out our generator for awhile last night, so I slept with AC, that was just getting me ready for my new hotel where the AC is only on from 9pm-2am., needless to say, I am getting used to being a sweaty mess, I am definitely not winning any beauty contests while I am here. I do think I am starting to get used to the heat though, or maybe just getting used to being sweaty, either way I do not feel as gross about it as when I first got here. All and all, things are going well. I am getting a lot of good work done, and getting to know Sierra Leone and its people. They have such high hopes for development, but such a long way to go. It is impossible to know where to start, but many people have their ideas. I have had several folks try to convince me it is electricity, and at this point I am keen to that idea, but who knows what the people of Makeni will have to tell me. I will try to post some pictures soon. Hope all is well with you back home!