Sierra Leone: Part 1 – Culture

For my first trip of 2019, I visited Sierra Leone, the country I call home. It was an amazing trip and I already miss it. I miss the sunshine, the people, the clothes and most importantly the food. My posts on Sierra Leone has been split into 2 parts, part 1 is the culture, and part 2 is Sierra Leone as a holiday destination.

Introduction:

Sierra Leone is a small country off the coast of west Africa. Our neighbouring countries are Guinea and Liberia. We have a population of 7.5 million people (less that the population of London) and our capital city is Freetown.

People:

Like in every country, people come in different shapes and sizes, different personalities and characters, but there is one trait that I think is found in most Sierra Leonians. We are very religious. Not in the ‘you must believe what I believe’ kind of way, but in a ‘we believe in God and will reference Him at every opportunity’ kind of way.

Sierra Leone is a Muslim majority country with a Christian minority but that means nothing to most Sierra Leonians. Muslim children are sent to Catholic schools and vice versa. The only things that parents care about is the level of education, not the religion that runs it. On almost every bus that I saw there was a reference to religion whether it was ‘Jesus is Lord’ or ‘May Allah forgive us all’, it was there.

Muslim and Christian intermarriage/ conversion is a common thing. Our culture is about people believing what they want to belief as long as it makes them into good people, no one will object or oppose to it. In my family alone, there have been so many intermarriages and conversions that we have Mohammeds who are Christians and Marys who are Muslims. It’s just who we are.

Our love of religion/ God is about freedom to be who you are. You won’t see many women wearing head scarfs for religious purposes, but you will see head ties at weddings as a cultural/ clothing attire.

Food:

Food is my absolute favourite part about being Sierra Leonian. I love love love the food. As a pescatarian, travelling around the world is usually difficult, food wise, as there are usually limited options. However, in Sierra Leone, we love sea food and we have plenty of it.

We have fresh sea food caught on the day and we have west African classics such as jollof rice.

The thing I miss most of all is the street food. I love Sierra Leonian street food.

From fresh fruits to roasted corn. This is my favourite street food (top right), fried fish and cassava bread.

Clothes:

As Sierra Leonians we love colour, we absolutely love bright, vibrant colours and prints. I particularly love floral prints.

There is a cotton cloth that women tie around their waist and wear like a skirt. It’s called a lappa.

The lappa comes in different colours and prints. Its worn by teenagers, mother and grandmothers. The younger women usually wear a blouse and lappa together (as shown in the picture). Whereas older women in their homes just wear the lappa and tie it over their breast (although in some villages the women tie it under their breasts resulting in their breasts hanging out – but this is in their homes and it’s usually very old women that do this).

We also have different kinds of cloths.

We have lace, cotton, nylon, wax and other kinds of cloths. Lace is the most expensive material, and cotton is the cheapest. Lace is usually reserved for weddings, birthdays and special events, not something you would wear to meet a friend for coffee.


Thank you for reading.

2 thoughts on “Sierra Leone: Part 1 – Culture

  1. I love this personal insight into some of the tangible aspects of Sierra Leone culture, the food looks so nutritious and fresh! Thank you for sharing and capturing an aspect different from what may be in a travellers guide… I look forward to hearing your take on that tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

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