#Conundrum, #earth, #KamandaKoroma, #love, #sierra-leone, #tourism, Art, Blogger, Blogging, Drizilik, Music, Uncategorized

Shukubly: Manifesto of a SaLone Artist by Marco Koroma


Marco Koroma takes the wheel for this journey with a guest feature article on the zeitgeist of the Sierra Leone music scene.

The influence of art in the Sierra Leonean society is undeniable. From the hit songs that outline the “maps” in December to the kontri klos that offers the pride of nativity, the arts have always shaped and reflected, the Sierra Leonean society. But, ironically, in Sierra Leone, and in most African countries, this crucial piece of society’s fabric is reserved for those who could not “make it” in life.

In 2018, Sierra Leonean Afro-Rap artiste, Drizilik, released his much-anticipated project, Shukubly. In the opening track, also titled Shukubly, is a prologue to a project that reflects the beauty and struggles of the Sierra Leonean society (let’s keep this for another blog post), and on its own is a beautifully crafted manifesto by a true SaLone artist.

The fine and performing arts have always served as an outlet for many, and our society appreciates it as long it is “on the side” or a hobby, being a full-time artist anywhere is tough, but the devaluing of Art in Sierra Leone has eroded the pride that comes with being an artist.

Drizilik confronts this notion by opening Shukubly, both song and project, with a declaration. A declaration by an artist who has dedicated time to harnessing his skills and mastering his craft, and he is aware that he treads the road not taken; an artiste with a vision and a purpose.

“A tek dis tin sirios ivin if na fun to all
A suppose for de hammer a nor bon for fall
ivin if success nor return mi call
If A ever turn back a go turn to salt”

These bars are repeated on “Aw Ar Lef Os”, making it clear that they are thought out and repeated to let his audience and fellow artists know that even though some may consider this “thing” a joke, he is dedicated to and passionate about his craft. Drizilik goes a step further to make known his intention to succeed, and he compares quitting to the catastrophe that befell Lot’s wife.

“Noto pan boku tok
Yu fil se na fulish fo le man dem rich dis far”

In a time where mediocrity abounds, few have gone against the grain to put in the required effort to achieve their goals, but when your goals don’t align with the norm you’re ostracized and considered foolish, by both the mediocre and exceptional, for putting so much effort into a lowly craft.

Two sold-out shows, an international tour, and endorsements by corporations, will we still consider Benjamin George foolish for pursuing his dreams? Some may only see the current shine and ignore the zeal and zest it takes to gain acclaim in any field, the art being no different.

“Hustle for the paper so we earn inna the shukubly

Remuneration is an integral part of the equation. The need for money cannot be overemphasised. Sierra Leoneans may enjoy and love art, but the culture of paying for art is not encouraged. Most artists have been stifled by the need for a sustainable income, yet some have found the balance; maintaining a 9-5 whilst being a full-time artist (shout out to Prodigy, Freetown’s Finest). Creating sublime content is expensive, and passion and zeal can only take an entrepreneur so far. Drizilik in this manifesto makes it crystal clear that his art is his hustle, and he should earn from it, so should every artist producing standard content.

“Sky-rising lekke sun inna the shukubly
Watch you neba noto fun inna the shukubly
Kukujumuku wi de ban inna the shukubly
Help you brother if you can inna the shukubly”

In Sierra Leone, the phenomenon of giving back to society is neither propagated nor appreciated. Drizilik recognises his success and that of some of his peers, so he implores artists and audiences in the shukubly to give a helping hand as they make their ascent to success.

Collaborations are also a medium of giving back or lending a helping hand, yet they are so underrated in our contemporary; we need more artists from diverse fields collaborating to give us a blend we cannot fathom. I hope this means we will see more collaborations from Ben 10 over 10.

“Ben 10 over 10 na di shukubly
If yu look inside me heart na di shukubly”

I believe the shukubly is a metaphor for many things, but my favourite is SaLone. Over the years many Sierra Leoneans have left for greener pastures, but only a handful have returned to make good the diabolic system that forced them out. But, if home is where the heart is then Sierra Leone is where Drizilik’s heart is. Like every human, his instincts may lead him to search for fertile ground, but he assures us that his heart will lead him home:

“Wi go go bɔt wi always kam bak/Leke se wi fɔget sɔmtin na di shukubly”

Sierra Leoneans are no strangers to manifestos, but we are yet to witness a manifesto upheld and its promises fulfilled (shout out to the red lorry and the green lorry). As a fan, I appreciate Drizilik’s sincerity on Shukubly, but being a luminary to a generation with no genuine hero his word is dear, and the expectation might be overwhelming. As an artist, I consider this manifesto a challenge to improve and elevates the standards of the arts.

So in whichever corner of the shukubly, you find yourself –

“One time for your mind na di shukubly”

Written by Marco Koroma

-Marco Koroma is a content developer and an art curator.

Check out PoyoPapi (@Marco_Krm): https://twitter.com/Marco_Krm?s=08

-Check out the album of Benjamin aka Drizilik on http://smarturl.it/Listenshukubly and follow his Twitter on https://twitter.com/drizilik?s=08

#Conundrum, #earth, #love, #sierra-leone, #sierra-leone literature, #SierraLeone, #the human-condition, Blogger, Blogging, Nostalgia, Short Story, Uncategorized

The Disco Bash (Short Story)


It was the late 90’s to the early side of the 2000’s, the era of faded jeans, the Walkman paving way for the disc man and the trend of jazzy youth “luxing” in Freetown. One of the features in hailing from a family filled with older brothers and cousins is their knack of grilling, teasing and being initiated into a rite of never ending stories.

In the rare times I was granted permission to be in -“The Stronghold” as my brothers called their bedroom, I sat on the floor with folded feet and stared at them in awe and drank in every details as they conversed. I was a very curious kid, let me don’t euphemize, I was a very “congosa pikin”, and so when I was barred entry I found ways to eavesdrop.

Boy, the stories I heard! Let me tell you about the Disco Bash.

My brother, let’s call him Max had been in party prepping mode for a month. Trips to the barbershop with him returning doo rag donned to protect his waves, brand new Reebok Pump sneakers straight from the box and my dad’s Hugo Boss cologne suddenly going missing.

Dash card, cash box and neighborhood Sunday cleaning, Max left no stone unturned to raise funds.

Finally, the D-Day dawned, from what I could piece together from the narrative, the party kicked off with a bang. DJ Sonny was on location at Rumors Night Club swinging and the ladies came through in droves.

Then, the generator made a rumbling noise and went out. It was no trouble, a mechanic was handy, he sorted the electrical issue in no time to rousing cheers from the crowd and went home, assured his work was done.

Freetown had many rival social club sects back the who vied for premier relevance. Apparently, one of these groups had been plotting and planning to topple my brother’s sect.

The generator which had been marked as the weak link was first smoothly disconnected, then a big boom box tape recorder had recorded it’s sound and put on a repeat loop, whilst the generator was carted away. So when the lights went out again, all assumed it was just another electrical issue, it was sheer shock as my brother and his friends arrived at the backyard to see an old beaten down boom box at top volume bleating out generator noise.

Bad luck, they say come in series never single.

The ECOMOG located around the vicinity had been notified by a tip off (probably from the rival group) or rather just by the aggrieved crowd loudly venting at their party being cut short. It was after curfew hours after all, so when the ECOMOG breezed in with their vehicles, it was fleeing time as the palpable fear and possibility of the notorious soldier dubbed Evil Spirit amongst the Nigeria officers sent many flying as if their feet were those of Hermes.

My brother was never known for his athleticism; he was amongst the few caught.

His best friend -Sugarmouth Joe was selected to be the speaker when the soldiers enquired why they were out. Joe was a celebrated smooth talker and a lady’s man. By now, it was almost dawn and as Joe went ahead to make sign language and writing on the dusty earth, my brother and his cohorts knew they were royally in the deep end, because if Joe took the deaf and dumb route, it sure was trouble.

They took the belting that came in stride, and they were all dropped off at their various points later on in the day.

Max of course told a different story why he stayed away so long from home.

I later knew the real story because of my eavesdropping exploits.

Of course I could not just let this go, I noticed Max was very slow in sitting down, and a slight spasm of pain flickered on his face whenever his bum touched a chair.

I chose those specific moments to go “Vroom, Vroom, Ecomog day kam, I am a Disco dancer” and he would chase me across the room, but I always fled from his grasp.

Max was never a good sprinter.

THE END

NB

* Luxing was a slang in Krio in the 90’s that translates to define a well dressed individual.

*Congosa Pikin is a phrase in Krio that translates to an extremely inquisitive and stubborn kids.

#Conundrum

Freetown Night Life by Dominique Fofanah
Freetown Night Life by Dominique Fofanah
#books, #Conundrum, #earth, #KamandaKoroma, #love, #poem, #poetry, #sierra-leone, Uncategorized

Nostalgia


These days,

I am increasingly fueled by a raging desire to overprice depressed thoughts.

Or get lost in the flow of books in the jungle of Amazon.

Nothing seems real,

E-books? They leave me thirsty

I miss the smell of pages,

with their wrinkled edges,

and the torn covers that tells me it’s earlier readers validate its dopeness.

I miss it all.

 

#Conundrum

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The Opioid Trail: Tramadol Abuse in Sierra Leone


It was a bright day with blue skies, sunny with just the right amount of soft winds. One of the rare blessings of residing in the coastal city of Freetown in the dry season is the beautiful weather at that time of the year. I was riding shotgun, a friend at the wheel, a Drake song blaring on the stereo.

Destination: Tokeh Beach.

Stuck for over half an hour in the notorious traffic jam between Wilkinson Road and Lumley, frustrated about the delay, we were accosted by one of the street hawkers peddling his goods. He approached the car window on my side , peered in then tapped me by my arm , then laughed and shouted our nicknames. It may have been that there was no sign of recognition on our faces. I did a double take when I recognized that resounding laughter, then slowly as I stared at him, it was as if the years fell away from his facial features layer by layer.

This was an old friend from high school. It had been years since we last saw him.

We located a suitable parking space, pulled over and kick start conversation. We reminisced about school days and the funny shenanigans we masterminded. All the while we laughed, I noticed the premature wrinkles and hardened features on his once gentle face. It was obvious the years hadn’t been kind to him. He explained to us that a string of family issues and financial problems had led him down the path to the depths of drug abuse.

Tramadol he said was the only reprieve he had from an otherwise cold world that had turned it’s back on him. We offered advice and assistance to him but he only shook his head and remarked that the pills had no addictive tendencies. After several prodding from us, he became withdrawn and said he had to return to his trading. We exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch and went our separate ways.

I called his number a few times with no response.

It would be the last time I ever saw him again.

This was two years ago.

Since then, the onslaught of Tramadol has continued unabated amongst the youths of Sierra Leone like a vengeful succubus.

Tramadol is an opioid drug that is prescribed for relief from moderate or moderately severe pain by medical doctors. It was considered as a better alternative to most narcotic analgesic medications.

Somehow, along the lines this drug became the go to drug for quick highs and mood enhancing. The myth that followed in it’s wake was the deceptive talk of it’s non addictive qualities.
In Sierra Leone, the ghettos, slums and even in club scenes, it has assumed many other attributes. Many non-prescribed users boast of it’s nature to boost their sex drive, others claim that it is the cure for their work stress and other problems.

These non facts are spread by quacks, and charlatans who sell these drugs from their stalls, and petty traders who have no medical qualification in that regard. The department of health regulation in the country is ill-equipped to tackle the issue as they are under funded and lack the necessary man power to tackle these illegal and counterfeit vendors.

Children as young as 9 have been known to take Tramadol.

I once encountered a scuffle that had just been separated, it was a teen who purchased the drug with the intention of taking it so as to give him the “bravery and heart” to stab a friend whom he had quarreled with over different views after a football match. If not for timely intervention, it would have been a lethal saga.

Stories like these and more are abound in the neighborhoods of Sierra Leone. Tramadol is especially popular amongst female street walkers and ‘Okada’ bike riders who claim it keeps the wind and cold away from them on cold nights because it numbs their senses.
You are bound to see either of the two popping tramadol like bubblegum or altoids .

In a country that has a considerable number of it’s denizens still clinging onto to superstitious beliefs, combating mental health issues and drug abuse is an up hill task. There’s a high chance of an addict to be taken to a church or voodoo shrine for supernatural delivery and demonic exorcism than to the hospital for medical assistance.

Indeed, there are stories of many individuals who when rehabilitated from abusive lifestyles by either a result of distance from it or when medically treated are bound to believe and accept the brainwashed superstitious narrative of family members that it was divinely manifested rather than their actions.

Surely, faith in a supreme deity goes with a strong understanding of care for ones health as is echoed in most religions.

Addiction to Tramadol causes a dependency which lead many young individuals to resort to theft as a desperate measure to satiate their high. The higher the dosage they take, the greater it elevates their mood which makes them to increase the dosage they consume. It’s not surprising that most tramadol addicts from impoverished backgrounds are identifiable at first glance when they are in withdrawal.

Mostly sweating, nervous, periods of swooning due to nausea, and a tendency to twitch as if restless. Developed stages of tramadol addiction are bound to make addicts, paranoid, delusional and subject to hallucinations.

During the just concluded election, this drug was in vogue as many politicians parceled it out in droves to supporters to use as a means to stimulate violence. It was not uncommon to see youths go berserk and self harm themselves or others before having fits of seizures. Yet no politician has ever been held accountable for the negative acts of derailing the future of scores of young men.

The lack of rehabilitation centres nationwide is another issue. What we have are a few institutions that have more in common with 17th Century asylums and madhouses like Bedlam and rife with questionable techniques of treating patients than they do with the modern methods of diagnosing and treating them.
There are very limited centres that offer adequate inpatient treatment with around the clock supervision that lasts for over a month.
Coupled with the fact that outpatient programs are almost non existent in this side of the world for evening or late therapy sessions after patients have been discharged to their homes.
It’s no small wonder that most addicts deteriorate beyond saving.
The taboo with which mental health is associated with makes it a hassle for the existence of peer group organizations to thrive in.

The health sector is in dire need of boosting and much adequate funding, to not only to treat the patients but also to police and regulate the influx of this drug into the borders of the country.

A nation is only as strong as it’s human resource.

We all must all do more to aid in the sensitization on the dangers of tramadol dependency and drug abuse as a whole.

Save lives. Regain friends.
Restore Families.

#Conundrum

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The Land.


Photography by Nadia Assad. Massama, Kambia.
Photography by Nadia Assad. Massama, Kambia.

I look up in the sky and see faces in the clouds gazing down at me.

Ferried on a canoe across a lake like a journey through time.

Thoughts, Dreams, Memories.
They mingle into a tapestry of my experiences.

Mama’s Land.

I breathe in the welcoming air of the familiar scents that I thought I’d forgotten.

My eyes attune to the greenery that kidnaps my senses
and my ducts they leak the essence of repressed emotions.

The warmth in the ambience embraces me for all the hugs I never received whilst away
and the ones I had when I was last here.

Charmed into awe whenever I discover doors that lead to the many mysteries you hold within.

Just always there to be unraveled in my country.

The Motherland.

#Conundrum

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Prometheus As A Role Model.


I have always had a fascination with Greek mythology.

Of course for most the pantheon of Olympian deities hold sway, yet for me the primordial Titan, Prometheus held an unwavering respect in my mind. Here was a being who sided against his kind, chose to fight on the side of Zeus and then went on to defy the orders of the mighty thunderbolt fiend by giving fire to mankind.

This is not a piece on Greek myths, I would love to go give my take on all the other many colourful beings that adorn the pages of Hellenistic literature, but that should be reserved for another time and in a different post.

Prometheus was the first progressive thinker who rooted for the underdog and gave them tools for self-improvement. The other unique trait he possessed was his altruism as opposed to other beings who held a manipulative marionette-esque relationship with their inferiors. He never asked for anything in return, all he wanted was the enlightenment of those he assisted.

It is easy for one to cast away or discard the character of Prometheus as an ancient story or a mere representation of mankind’s persistence on the quest for progress.

The truth is Prometheus was an unsung hero who did a lot behind the scenes but was hardly ever acknowledged during his existence by those he did it for. Whether it was due to the fact he was always in the background, non-assuming yet aiding, he was hardly ever hailed.

Growing up in Sierra Leone, I had a Prometheus in the form of my maternal Grandpa. I think I began the process of receiving my proverbial fire of enlightenment when I was between the ages of 5-6. I was playing in his library, flipping the pages of a rather thick book. Of course to a young lad, a book without pictures was not worth my time, so naturally I must have asked him for one with images. He peered at me through his thick lens, and remarked with a chuckle that the words were filled with images and adventures to last me multiple lifetimes, thus commenced my delving into the world of books.

Overtime my grandpa would gift me with books which I would read at home and then discuss with him later. He was never imposing as these sessions were quite interactive.

Grandpa always strived to create a platform for me to be confident to state my opinions. He would then state his position clearly whilst treading and touching on the areas I missed with a masterful stroke. My young mind imbibed it all.

He had a wry sense of humour and loud echoing laughter.

Grandpa Morlai Alhassan B Kamara.
Grandpa Morlai Alhassan B Kamara

Naturally, I had an advantage when I started grade school. I hail from a side of the world where rote learning is the norm and even though I attended a top class private school that had relatively much higher standards than most in the country, my intelligence bloomed through the nurturing of my Grandpa. It was obvious from the get go that non interactive teachers bore me. I adapted to the reality of the limiting nature of the school system.

I was gifted by my grandpa with a 16 volume Harver’s Junior World Encyclopedia in November, 2000 after my first report card came through with exceptionally good grades. This become a tradition between me and my grandpa throughout his life.

Volume 4 of the 16 set Encyclopedia I received in November, 2000.
Handwritten note and seal of Grandpa

As we get older, it is arguable to some that it is easy to somehow forget or ignore the contributions certain people make to our lives from behind the scenes.

We replace these people with the rich, popular and successful as role models.

There is a certain novelty to the allure of fame but we should never let go of the fire bringers, the Geppettos’ in our lives who spark the flames within us. In a world that sets more store on material gain over honest meaningful contribution, there is a duty on us all to acknowledge these heroes who contribute to us from behind the scenes.

‘Inspiring and never taking credit’ as Drake put it.

My grandfather passed away on the 12th of December, 2009.

To this day, I still get the ‘human Wikipedia’ jokes because of my penchant in knowing things. With age comes experience and maturity coupled with the realization that the legacy of my grandpa should be passed on.

It is necessity to be mentors to those that require it without imposing.

To aid without manipulating.

I end with a poem.

The calm.

The quiet.

The inspiring.

Behind the scenes, forging.

Individuals polished from bronze to gold.

Humble alchemists.

Molds shaped from clay to breathing figures.

In the dark, unseen like the abyss but higher and brighter than Helios’s chariot.

Sanseis.

Mentors.

The unsung heroes.

Who give all and ask for naught.

And remain silent in the hopes to see,

Phoenix reborn from ash

Caterpillars transforming to iridescent butterflies

Coals to polished diamonds

Seeding the star ways with future constellations to evade black holes

Titular guardians and not marionettes.

To the Geppettos’ over the Strombolis’.

Prometheus.

We don’t say thank you enough.

RIP Morlai B. Alhassan Kamara.

#Conundrum