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  Tuesday, May 31st
Many New Friends and Family Members, Dunkegba, Kafu Bullom Chiefdom, Sierra Leone
Many New Friends and Family Members, Dunkegba, Kafu Bullom Chiefdom, Sierra Leone
Notes From Kenny:
Day Six:
The “Priscillas” made a visit to Kafu Bullum Chiefdom, near Lungi Airport (as the preacher bird flies). We took ground transport along a winding dirt and sometimes pot holed road past a number of communities to visit the seaside village of Dunkegba. Upon our arrival we were met by a procession of school children who sang this song:

And the children sang…

“Home again home again
When shall I see my home?
When shall I see my native land?
I shall never forget my home”

We then met the elders of the village and descended into the village by way of a long stair case cut into the earth cliff that bordered the village, where we were again met by celebrants, including a group of about ten traditional musicians who each played a single length bamboo flute employing a technique of melodic playing known as hocket. The flutes ranged in length from about 9 inches to about 3 feet long. This ensemble produced a chorus of a most remarkable sound. Everywhere that there was celebration, there was the drum, there was dance, and there was familiarity from being with family.

Notes From Joyce:
As Monday flowed into Tuesday I began my second day with no real sleep but eager to see Sierra Leone by daylight. We all piled into vans and headed thru town for the ferry landing. Freetown assails the senses. First the colors and contrasts hit you. The calming shades of nature. Water the color of old jade, red dirt that reminded me of Alabama, stark white sand leading to green forests growing up mountains floating in mist against a pale sky. And then the people are everywhere bustling and on the move, wearing everything from Western wear to the gorgeous fabrics and styles of Africa. Some are carrying attaché cases and others have huge piles of goods on their heads moving thru the crowds with ease.

At first it seems chaotic but gradually you see it is a controlled and courteous traffic. The drivers, pedestrians and vendors have an interaction that is miraculous in that there are few accidents. The people smile and wave. The ferry ride across Fourah Bay was uneventful other than my eating some really good shish kabob and learning that all soda and beer was served luke warm in Salone.

And then we were on the road to the village of Kafu Bullom. The welcome to the village was genuine and warm. People on the road walking in the direction of the village were smiling and waving while calling, Priscilla, Priscilla! This was a holiday for the children let out of school as well as the adults. The welcoming committee of the paramount chief and other officials gave us a formal greeting and the children sang. We walked a few yards to a wide path down a steep incline. From the top of the hill only a large tree and flattened dirt was visible. As we descended, the village and shoreline came into view. It was almost too cinemascope, too Technicolor to be real. But it is real. And it stole my heart. I knew then that I loved Sierra Leone and my experience in the village only reinforced the sense of wanting to be a part of a place as lovely and people as loving.

I got caught up in a group of dancing women as soon as I descended and was all about dancing and shaking hands and looking into smiling faces that hinted at relatives and friends at home. I was a favorite with the children who wanted pictures taken. Snap me, snap me! They wanted to be a part of this event as much as their elders. Amidst the dancers, stilt walkers and drummers, I moved in and out of the huge happy, curious crowd as we all listened to the speeches and addresses of welcome.

The village was quiet as the chief spoke about the heritage and history of the tribe and of Priscilla’s life and Thomalind’s visit. It was so much like a family reunion. You know everyone there is family that you just haven’t met yet so you touch, shake, hug and smile and soak it all in. Unconditional welcome like unconditional love, its twin, has no language barrier. I kept babbling in an attempt at Krio, I gladee be here. I so gladee be here. And Lord knows, I was.

Notes From Toni:
Today's visit to the seaside village of Dunkegba in the Kafu Bullom Chiefdom was simply extraordinary. As we made our way through the countryside to the village, we saw houses, farms and areas where local residents manufacture concrete blocks. The countryside presents a totally different aspect of Sierra Leone than does the city: everywhere we saw scenes of domestic life and beautiful rolling hills. If my heart had not been completely stolen by Sierra Leone until now, you may rest assured that it was by day's end.

People we passed along the road smiled, waved and shouted "Priscilla!" as we careened toward Dunkegba. We knew then that we were in for a special day, but we had no idea just how jubilant a welcome we were about to receive.

As we turned off the road into Dunkegba, we saw an enormous banner welcoming our Priscilla's Homecoming family. We stepped off of the bus to a fabulous welcome. More than one hundred school children lined the road, all singing in unison. The sights and sounds came fast and furious: music, singing, drumming, dancing and a host of happy faces surrounded us on all sides.

We were escorted down a steep set of stairs carved into the red clay of the bluff which overlooks the seaside. Along the way we were greeted by hundreds of villagers who hugged us and expressed joy at our arrival. It seemed that everyone wanted us to snap their pictures, and we did so for as long as our film held out.

Midway in our journey down the steps, the magnitude of our welcome became apparent. To our great astonishment, we saw more than three thousand villagers gathered along the seashore to meet us! The festive scene we saw below us could only be compared to Carnivale or Mardi Gras, in its jubilance. From the base of the stairs, we made our way slowly through the enormous crowd, to an arena that had been prepared for our welcome. We were then regaled with performances by the National Dance Troupe, musicians from Dunkegba and beyond, Devil Dancers and a dancer on stilts who represented a bird. The Bird Dancer was blowing a whistle, which added to the delightful chaos of the scene before us.

When at last we settled into our places for the welcome ceremony, we were all in a state of permanent amazement. During the ceremony, the paramount chief and village elders welcomed us and introduced the subchiefs who had come from other villages to welcome us. Joseph Opala spoke through an interpreter to those assembled. He told the story of Priscilla and Priscilla's Homecoming, expressed gratitude for our warm welcome, and introduced Thomalind and Antawn. Thomalind and Antawn then spoke, in turn, words of gratitude to all those present. Our hosts presented Thomalind and Antawn with gifts, and the "Priscillas" presented gifts in return.

We then enjoyed much more singing and dancing before we reluctantly took our leave from our many new friends and family members. We were all happily dazed as we made our way back to Freetown; happy in all that we had seen and heard, and feeling that a small part of us would remain there in Dunkegba long after we were gone.

The evening was set aside for a State Dinner which Joyce and I, needless to say, reluctantly missed due to our lack of sleep. We turned in early, quite happily exhausted from the pageantry of today's events. Priscilla's spirit truly had returned home.

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