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GROWING UP IN A CREOLE HOME Contd.

GROWING UP IN A CREOLE HOME IN SIERRA LEONE


By

Esme James



Saturdays were set aside for a thorough cleaning of the house from top to bottom. Wooden floors had to be swept and polished until they shone, the wash house (was os) and latrine floors, which were usually concrete and located outside the main house, had to be scrubbed with soap and water, as were the unvarnished wooden benches used in the kitchen.

In our own house, we had many items made of brass. My mother was a collector and we had to clean brass trays, candle holders and window fenders with Brasso and a soft cloth until they shone. Before Brasso came on the scene, we used to use ashes from a wood or coal fire, mixed with drops of lime to make a paste. Regardless of what we were given to use if, after our best efforts, my mother could not see her reflection on the brass items, they had to be rubbed until she could. No easy task at all!

We were constantly cautioned not to rush into anything if we wanted to succeed in life. “Tek tɛm kil anch, yu go si in gᴐt” was another favorite saying that we heard often as we grew up and began to make our own decision. We learnt how to weigh all the options before undertaking any new venture. One of my elderly aunts used to put it this way: “Put yams na faya ɛn tek tɛm de luk fᴐ nɛf.”

Krios were and, to a large extent, still are a very superstitious people. In the 1950s and 1960s, we observed quite a lot of superstitious beliefs and traditions, a lot of which have since died out. For instance, there were certain words we were not supposed to mention at night. The word ‘snake’, for example, could only be spelt out after dark s-n-a-k-e. It was believed that anyone intrepid enough to say the word out loud would have to contend with a live snake before morning. If a large number of ants (usually black with some white stuff around their mouths – we called them fambul anch), suddenly appeared in some part of the house, it was believed that it was dead relatives letting those who were still know that they were feeling hungry and neglected. A small feast of black-eyed beans cooked with palmoil and garnished with fried plantains, sweet potatoes and fried ground beans (binch akara) would quickly be prepared for the family. However, some of the beans, cooked without salt and palmoil would have been set aside for the dead relatives. At night, a plate of this, together with some of the sweet potatoes, plantains and akara, would be put at the centre of a dining-room or other table, next to a glass of water and left there overnight for the dead relatives to feast on. In the morning, what remained would either be scattered around the yard or an older person in the family would finish it off and the glass of water would be emptied on the front steps to ward of evil spirits,

Going to the cemetery to inform dead relatives of forthcoming important events, especially weddings, was considered necessary if one wanted a successful marriage.




NOTES

1. The chicken that refuses to leave when it is driven away gently will do so when a stone is thrown at it, i.e. the child that refuses to respond as expected to gentle warning will be given more severe punishment.


2. When a child does something gravely wrong and expects punishment, wait until he does something trivial before punishing him.


3. Gluttony or covetousness.


4. Focus on getting a good education.


5. If everything is going well for you, don't display it or boast about it.


6. Do everything with great care and patience and you will eventually get what you want and find what you are looking for:


7. Do what you can possibly do for the present while waiting for what you really want.



THE END


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