As the month of December rolls along, seasonal change is in the air here. This is true both in terms of the weather as well as the energy of daily life in Freetown. Recent days have been hot, humid, and hazy, with hints of harmattan dust in the sky. The streets of the city are a bit more congested than usual, with peddlers now selling Christmas decorations, shoppers preparing for holidays, and “just come” Sierra Leoneans visiting from abroad. (The exchange rate for the leone has dropped a bit in recent days because of the influx of dollars from these diaspora visitors.) Street carnivals and outings to the beach are typical in December, adding to an atmosphere of festivity. ‘Tis also the season for “thanksgiving parades,” which means church, school, and other groups marching through the streets complete with marching bands. On Sunday night, returning to Freetown from Makeni, we ran into such parades at every turn, which slowed our progress through town considerably. I saw my first Christmas tree decorating a store front the other day, but all in all the atmosphere is nothing like the hustle and bustle and hype of the season in the U.S.
News these days has been dominated by government corruption scandals. The mayor of Freetown was arrested recently and remains in prison facing corruption charges. (The mayor spoke about community responsibility at the handing over ceremony for Calvary School a couple of months ago.) The vice president of Sierra Leone was the focus of a recent Al Jazeera (international news network) expose about corruption in the timber industry. Investigations of the vice president’s office are now underway and it will be interesting to see whether or not there are any consequences in this case. The National Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) faces considerable difficulties in carrying out its work, and the outcome of these two cases may prove indicative of the authority and effectiveness of the ACC.
Over the months I’ve lived in Sierra Leone I’ve taken hundreds (and hundreds) of digital photos — of people, places and events. While it sometimes feels difficult to capture the color and life of Sierra Leone in words and pictures, I enjoy the challenge of sharing glimpses. I recently contributed a number of my photo files for use on a new ELCSL website. The site is a work in progress, and can be seen at http://www.elscl.weebly.com.