Early in the evening when time allows, I enjoy walking around the Aberdeen neighborhood near my house. By 5 or 6 pm most nights, adults are sitting outside their homes, listening to the radio, chatting, eating a meal or otherwise passing the time. Women are often gathered together plaiting each other’s hair. Wherever I walk, I always encounter children playing in the dusty streets, and youth engaged in sports.
Imagine a world not dominated by TV, video games, electronic gadgets and expensive toys and you can begin to imagine life in Sierra Leone. Imagine such a world and you might imagine a world shaped by an appreciation of both simple pleasures and simple treasures.
Throughout Sierra Leone, playing and discussing football (soccer) is probably the dominant leisure time activity. In Freetown, every neighborhood has a football pitch, and there are games at the beach every day of the week. Although daily life here is physically demanding, physical fitness is nonetheless a preoccupation for many young people. On Sunday mornings in Freetown the streets are filled with people out for a run, and I am seeing serious cyclists more and more on the outlying roads. Basketball and volleyball are also popular in some circles.
I have particularly enjoyed watching children at play in Sierra Leone, and seeing their creativity and skill.