Andrew Keili's shrewd, introspective, oftentimes hilarious commentaries in Ponder My Thoughts Vol. 1 are much like the opinion articles he wrote in the mid-2000s, when he explained post-war Sierra Leone, its management, or lack of it, in local, regional, and national government.
How we see things depends on where we stand on Sierra Leonean--ness, society, and politics.
Keili's book, Ponder My Thoughts, captures a year (2013) in observations and stories, but it's not a time capsule. It's information you can use—contemporary Sierra Leonean history pieced together one op-ed at a time.
Remember that debate surrounding misuse of funds from GAVI? The global vaccine alliance that buys vaccines with Gavi funding, procured through UNICEF directly with the manufacturer, and delivered to low-income countries like Sierra Leone?
Keili's columns start with the uncompromising subject of misuse of funds in public life and how Sierra Leone doesn't learn from mistakes.
From the harbour, a long sand-bank stretches across the entrance, or rather estuary, and it must be approached on the south point, on which is Carpenter's rock, to be seen at low water but covered at high, which ships safely avoid by taking a wide berth...The only danger to be apprehended is during the Tornado season, when such is its violence that ships are frequently driven from their anchors. The appearance of the Colony from sea is particularly marked by a high-peaked mountain, which, from its conical shape, is commonly called the “sugar-loaf” in the neighborhood of which are three other hills of minor attraction. The most elevated is seen above the clouds, and may be described at the distance of thirty or forty miles, perhaps more, long before the low land. (William Whitaker Shreeve. Sierra Leone: The Principal British Colony on the Western Coast of Africa, 1847 pp 21.).
Freetown's peninsula is about 18 miles long from north-west to south-east by about 12 broad. It lies bet…
At104-pages Siaka Kroma’s novel Manners Maketh Man: Adventures of a Bo School Boy is a fraction of Sama Banya’s 484-page autobiography Looking Back, My Life and Times, but the cross references and descriptions of Bo Town and Bo School are fascinating. Together, both books make a study of how one school enforced national consciousness in Sierra Leonean education.
In Banya’s story, it is the second week of March 1940 when he arrives at Bo School, which by then had only about 90 pupils enrolled. From Looking Back, we learn that Bo School was patterned after the British public school system. The boys were divided into dormitories named after European cities: London, Liverpool, Paris, and Manchester. Equally, we also learn about the school’s original mission to integrate the “sons and nominees of chiefs” from Northern and Southern Sierra Leone, “promoting nationally-unifying doctrines, beliefs, personalities, and languages.”
One of the highlights in Banya’s “Bo School Years” chapter i…