Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sierra Leone 3: Downtown Freetown

Saturday morning we trekked out from the Lumley beach area to downtown Freetown. Along the way we climbed Tower Hill to see the Parliament Building and along the road stopped for a group shot. Freetown sits on a peninsula, with mountains to the south and east, ocean to the west, and the Sierra Leone river to the North. It is one of the worlds largest natural deep water harbors. Ideal for defense and why in the late 1700's freed British slaves and then later freed men from America who had sided with the British (the Black Loyalists) but found life in Nova Scotia untenable due to economic and racial discrimination came here. Freetown was founded in 1792 under the "Cotton Tree" in downtown Freetown, prayed into being by a Baptist preacher from South Carolina (the first Baptist sermon ever in Africa). This began a trend of Freetown being a city of many different ethnic and religious groups. No dominate majority has ever controlled the city.
 On our way we traveled the crowded Saturday morning market streets. Very little regulation on the "shops" that set up on street corners, car hoods, or tents.
 Had to take this picture for Axel's Godmother Ms. Diana from TLCC. Even in a place as challenged as Freetown there are those caring for the Tiny Tots in their midst.
 Eventually we found our way to the Upgun Market which I had visited back in 2007 with Jiwoh and his sisters. This is the large two story covered market you can find in most cities. Where trinkets and other items are sold. However, it is only one of many markets in the city. So when we told our driver we wanted to go to the market he wasn't sure what we wanted. Luckily for some reason I remembered it was on Kissy street across from St. George's Anglican Cathedral.
 Church directions never steer you wrong!!! The market was full of materials but very quiet on Saturday morning. That led to good shopping. Each vender promised us "the best deal, for being the best first customer."
 Miriam and Tante proved to be good bargain shoppers. It was a good lesson for Miriam no doubt in how to negotiate. That they will never offer you a price they won't settle for, so you have to stay strong and decide what you are willing to pay.
 I bought some gifts for the kids, the staff as well as a new nativity set for Kendra. As any good African nativity set should, it contains Hippos. The Word became Flesh to come into our context, our lives, whatever those lives are and wherever they are, Christ comes to be with us.

When we got back, we headed down to the Lumley Beach to take in a bit of afternoon sun before the wedding. It is such a beautiful strand of beach. If only the community could get their infrastructure in place, and basic levels of trash and sanitation, Sierra Leone would be an amazing holiday destination. We pray that the commitment of folks like Jiwoh and Manja will help make that possible.

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