maandag 19 juni 2023

Fear around elections in Sierra Leone

English translation from original blog in Dutch

On Saturday 24 June there will be parliamentary and presidential elections in Sierra Leone. Tensions in the country often run high around elections. Last August, there was a sudden outbreak of violence in several cities of the country. In Sierra Leonean and foreign media, I currently don't see any reports about unrest and violence.

Through from my own contacts I hear about growing fear or even panic. Just like around previous elections, I hear that some are on the verge of fleeing for the elections. People would be beaten up and even killed. My 'uncle-sayer' shows me injuries to his head, of which it is not clear to me what happened or why. He also had quite a bit of damage to his shabby house last night due to heavy rain.

The two largest parties vying for power represent the two largest tribes. The current president Julius Maada Bio (ACP) is Mende and wants to be re-elected. The main opponent Samura Kamara (SLPP) is Temne.

You can often deduce someone's background from the person's last name, which is partly the reason for the fear of some. According to my friends, as a losing tribe you can now forget about a job, and your life is uncertain. To what extent this is a trauma from the past or a real risk I cannot judge.

My current housemate is Mende, but has a double surname, a Mende name followed by a Temne name, brought into the family by a grandmother. Previously, I had a Fula and two Temne housemates. I never pay much attention to color but all the more to language. In my house Krio, Temne, Mende, Fula and Madinka were and are spoken, in addition to Dutch, Frisian, English and German. Thanks to a South African guest who is staying in my house for three months, Tsonga, Xhosa and Zulu have now also joined in. With corresponding click sounds. It is a pleasure to hear my housemates speak to family and friends. I can follow Krio a bit. When I suddenly hear my own name, I shout "no kongosa!", Krio for "no gossip". Everyone laughs.

Follow the news from Sierra Leone: 

See also: 
* documentaire about diabetes in Sierra Leone (Deutsche Welle, English)

A pan-African payment system (AlArabya news, English)

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