Friday, February 23, 2007



It seems that my blogging has stirred up quite a bit of traffic and a couple of people have even turned up on my doorstep. The first was Sacha Nandlall a fellow from Montreal who was on his way to Sierra Leone as a VSO volunteer. Sacha came a couple of weekends ago after settling into his job in Freetown. He has a nice blog with some pics of the weekend (press here) and a lot of text (both English and French) It puts my blogging to shame. Take a look. Having read my blog Sacha came armed with a pack of 4 Mars Bars - wow what a sugar high. He was brave enough to come with me for a Ward meeting to explain why people should pay their taxes. See his blog for a description. He then ventured a honda ride to Ibrahims for hummus and chips. Next morning (Sunday) Sacha joined me in a jog around the football pitch and then joined a soccer game. Sacha's recipe for fried plantain went down well the other day - green plantain chopped and fried with some salt and some fresh pepper. Great with a beer.

The second visitor was a young Swiss fellow Laurent Cartier (photos later) doing his Masters in African Studies (or is it earth sciences - I cant remember) . He is not volunteering and not working, merely a plain vanilla tourist - the only one in Sierra Leone I suspect. However he wasnt looking for a beach vacation and dropped into Makeni on my electronic invitation. Packed into his small bags he brought with him a couple of CD's with some music for me. Wow! It's been almost 4 months since my computer crashed and this was like finding a message in a bottle on a desert island. He also left me an interesting book by a Spanish writer, 100 years in solitude which I'll donate to the new Makeni library that is taking shape. Laurent lived in Ireland for some years and speaks Gaelic, something that appealed to Jim, as well as speaking German (his father) and French (where he also has lived) and Dutch (his mother). We dined on cassava leaves and rice for a couple of days since that is my speciality these days and Laurent tried a cocoanut dish that didnt turn out too well Interesting visitor, now gone on his way to Kabala to visit the Limba and Fullah.

Any other visitors are welcome. Just bring some music, some DVD's and some conversation and I'll supply the roof and bednet, occasional power, the cassava and a tour of Makeni. Rumour has it that Jerry Caplan has made some plans to be the next visitor.

As your tenure draws to a close (unless, of course, you are considering an extension)I'm sure you are feeling pressure that you need to complete the tasks and objectives that you set for yourself at the outset of this brave tour of duty.
Don't feel chagrined if the list of outstanding items is daunting. You are not the first person who has visited and worked in Africa that feels that the tasks are overwhelming and endless. Take heart , your efforts are monumental.
all the best. See you soon.
Michael Pittana
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