Bundles of just-harvested rice.
Bundles of just-harvested rice.
Momoh and Bundeh (left to right).
Sierra Leone is currently in election fever right now, as they have their presidential elections in a few weeks. Kailahun District is Mende country and thus highly in favor of the opposition candidate from the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). His name is Maada Bio. The symbol of the SLPP is the palm tree, and the party color is green. Naturally, this led Momoh and Bundeh to wrap palm fronds around their heads and stumble around calling themselves “Maada Biooooo! Maada Bioooo!”
The going-away party at its height.
The facial expressions in this photo slay me.
From left to right: Baindu, JJ, (don’t know the name of the other guy in the red shirt), and Maada. Maada is OVP’s new education director and lived in the room adjacent to mine in Pujehun. He’s clearly enjoying his poyo (palm wine).
In this photo, Baindu is sporting my all-time favorite hairdo. Her hair is all in tiny braids, pulled into a ponytail on top of her head, which is then twisted into tight corkscrews.
With Fudia and her kids Jenneh (in front of me), Mana (in front of Jenneh), and her niece.
Fudia (in green), her sister (in red), and my neighbor Moinya (in purple) preparing LOTS of food for the party.
This is little Alieu Anthony reading a book authored by family friend Barbara DeAngelis. He lives down the street from me in Pujehun and is one of the crowd of kids that make regular visits to my house.
It’s unfortunate that there’s very sparse internet access in Pujehun, since it is by far my favorite place to be in Sierra Leone. I spent my last month here holed up in Pujehun and refusing to leave. Literally. I even sent Baindu to Bunumbu with money to buy food for me at the market rather than making the 5-mile motorbike ride myself. (This was a win-win; I didn’t have to go anywhere and Baindu got a free ride to Bunumbu to buy fish and visit friends). I grew to love my little house and once I built my baffa and borrowed a generator, I was pretty well set. I had all the things I needed, I knew (almost) everybody, my work was there, it was quiet, and the weather in October was perfect (rain only in late afternoon and at night- just enough to fill my rain barrel without being an annoyance).
However, all good things must come to an end. I return to the U.S. on Nov. 12, and I needed to spend some time in Kenema, at Njala U., and in Freetown for various wrapping-up activities, so on Saturday I said goodbye to Pujehun for good. I cried, Fudia cried, Fudia’s daughter Jenneh cried, and everybody else rolled their eyes in embarrassment at our crying.
The last few weeks were a whirlwind of rice harvesting (to measure yields) and interviewing farmers. Though I was a bit worried, I was able to finish collecting the data that I wanted. My friend Sidie from Njala (who worked as a research assistant for me back in August) will return to Pujehun in January to finish collecting data on the swamp rice harvest (rice is harvested in the uplands in October and the swamps in January).
I realize I haven’t really posted a lot about my research or what I’ve learned- when I’m in the day-to-day data collection process it’s hard to sit back and reflect on what things actually mean. I finally did some of that in my final week, because I want to provide my partners at Njala and OVP a preliminary report. I’ll post that up here when it’s done.
In the meantime, some photos will follow of my goodbye party with some of my favorite people in Sierra Leone.
So I’ve been trying to keep this to myself, because it’s really inappropriate for a blog post, but it’s just taken on a life of its own …
Maybe you’ve heard of bot flies? The gross flies that lay their eggs in your laundry and then the larvae burrow into your skin and develop there for several weeks before they fall out? No? Well, now you have.
Africa has its own less (in)famous but very similar version, the tumbu fly (Cordylobia anthropophaga for those who must know- gotta love the whole “anthrophagous” part of that). Same idea, different name.
You’ve probably guessed by now, but I’m growing my very own tumbu flies! Two of them, in my right ankle and foot. They’re harmless, but that doesn’t mean I’m too psyched about them being there.
Based on recommendations from the internet and friends in Freetown, I’m currently smothering them with vasoline to force them to poke their little larval heads out, and then planning (with the help of a friend with experience extracting tumbu flies) to pull them out with tweezers. I’ll post photos, don’t worry!
A certain someone suggested that I name my “dark passengers,” since they’ve been with me for a good two weeks now. Current names in the running include Carmen and Luisito or Desi and Lucy.
Check out the link for Dan’s photos from his trip. Fortunately, he has far more patience for photo uploading than I do.