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Vitabu Reads | Kinship Bonds by Shek Gibril Kamara

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Shek Gibril Kamara's landmark book “Kinship Bonds” is an all West African story.

Compressed into about 180 pages, the book's storyteller frames the empires of the past against Bamako, Mali.

No doubt, the narrator is teaching history. Told for you, me, and West Africa's population today of over 335 million people.

Kamara's narrative voice and griot in “Kinship Bonds” is omniscient; an interpreter/superlative source of information.

One problem though is the book's confusing estimation of time; although we get copious examples of location.

Iconic villages such as Kindiaso, Sokudala, Kurudala, and bigger towns like Makeni drive or influence the nostalgic theme of the book.

Compared to similar literature in Sierra Leonean Writers Series, “Kinship Bonds” informs about rural life in the Mano River basin and the empires of medieval West Africa.

Of note, Kamara's previous work, The Spirit of Badenia, is a university textbook on African Studies and Cultural Anthropology…

Vitabu Reads: From the Land of Diamonds to the Isle of Spice

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When young Christopher Williams ventured out of Freetown on a merchant ship bound for Matadi in 1925, little did he know that he would leave footprints in the sand that an unborn grandson would track.

Using the figurative milestones planted by Christopher almost a hundred years ago, Sigismond Henry Tucker creates an intricate picture of his family's migration story of love, endurance, and hope through the pain of separation.

Sigismond's autobiography “From the Land of Diamonds to the Isle of Spice” is a complex lattice of intersecting interests.

On the one hand are black Africans like Sigismond's grandfather, arriving by ship at trading ports dotted all over the continent's big coast; people native to the Congo, Malinke merchants from Senegal carrying out trade on routes throughout west and central Africa; and the bold Americans, English, and Welsh exploring opportunities in old ports of  slavery.

Sigismond doesn't say what set his grandfather's travels in moti…

Ahmed Koroma's Letters from America - Part 2

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Ahmed Koroma’s Letters from America were first published five years ago. This is Part 2 of the six-part series, which ran on July 30th, 2012. Suba Ranka picked up his cutlass, wiped the blood with his fingers and smiled. He had killed again. Only this time, the victim was a goat. He meticulously picked his nose and looked around. He was getting really good at this; chasing goats and chickens around the baffa and killing them one after another.  Last night, as he ran around the village looking for goats and chickens, he realized that the moon had suddenly disappeared. The place had gotten dark and his victims were hard to find. He had killed the moon, too.He took one more look at the dead goat. I am going to pluck the wings off the goat before it flies away.  He was really good at this. Last night, just before the moon disappeared, he had sworn that one day he would take a big knife, climb the court barre wall and take a stab at the moon. He didn't know why and he didn't care. H…

Vitabu Reads | Dilemma of Freedom: A diary from behind enemy lines in Sierra Leone's civil war

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The harrowing events of May 25, 1997 in Freetown, Sierra Leone fell far short of the lofty ideals of 25 May 1963, when the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was founded.

More than 30 years earlier, the OAU had been set up to support the work conducted by freedom fighters, and improve living standards across member states. At the ‘63 meeting in Addis Ababa, Africa Freedom Day was renamed Africa Liberation Day.

According to records, the renamed celebration of Africa Day continued to be celebrated on May 25 in respect to the formation of the OAU. Haile Selassie reportedly exclaimed, "May this convention of union last 1,000 years."

By May 1997, the union was just over 30 years old.

That was the day Bailah Leigh’s life took an ominous turn. The German-trained obstetrician and gynecologist, who’d returned to his native Sierra Leone in 1978, was midway through his career when Sierra Leone was upended by yet another military coup.

Coup d’états had been a part of Sierra Leonean li…

The Year of the Un-Opposed by Ahmed Koroma | Fantasy History 12

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On May 6, Akibo triumphed. And that song, the one about Akibo, became an instant hit and would forever remain part of the legacy of a community.

APC Central One, 
Na Akibo we want oh
Ah say APC Central One, 
Akibo we want oh
Ah May 6 oh, Akibo win election
For go na palimehnt 
For woke for di nation
Ah Nancy Oh, e lef pan you oh
Akibo Betts! 
Na man way we want oh
For we minister

Nineteen seventy-seven was a turning point in Salone (Sierra Leonean) history. It was one of the most intense campaign-elections in Freetown. [With] the Fourah Bay College (FBC) Student protest during Convocation, January 29, 1977; an attack by All People’s Congress (APC) party supporters at the Mount Auroel campus, January 31, 1977; premature dissolution of parliament, April 4, 1977; and a hurriedly held election on May 6.

It was the year of the "un-opposed" but in Freetown Central One the election was anything but 'APC un-opposed.'

The stage was set not (just) between the two major parties, Sierra Leo…

Milo and All That Jazz | The Golden Era of Salone Music – by Kitty Fadlu-Deen

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Milo and All That Jazz is the most recent work of Dr. Kitty Fadlu-Deen, published by Sondiata Global Media.

The book takes the reader on a journey through Sierra Leonean culture expressed in her distinctive music.

Milo and All That Jazz explores the history and creative breadth and depth of Sierra Leonean music from the 1960s to the 1990s. Considering the vast choice of bands and artists during that period, this is no mean feat.

Aminatta Forna, a renowned Sierra Leonean author, says:

“Dr. Fadlu-Deen has commemorated Pino and all the most talented of Sierra Leone’s array of musicians over three decades in a fascinating story that has been meticulously researched and elegantly written… Sierra Leone boasts a powerful voice that moves to its own distinctive beat." 
This is a must-read for music lovers the world over. It is a book that connects the development of Sierra Leonean cultural music and its sources of inspiration from the African Continent and beyond. Above all, it recognises…

Vitabu Reads | Manners Maketh Man: Adventures of a Bo School Boy

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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…