We had one more stop that morning in the small village of Kansema to the east of Madina Oula. The sun had come out again and the village looked very pleasant, mostly thatched rectangular houses in the centre shaded by mango trees. We were greeted by a couple of men and we waited as the chief came out of his house and his secretary started to direct the locals to obtain some seating. As was now a routine, various chairs and benches, even a bucket or two, were dragged out of all the nearby houses and we had our meeting right there in the centre of the village.
As in all the other places we visited we attracted a lot of attention. At one point I looked across the road to a shady open wooden shed and was greeted by about twenty pairs of eyes of children staring back; new ones would arrive every minute and shuffle inside to keep cool, as well as for them to feel safe from their shyness. We could not get away without inspecting the community forest so we trooped up a gentle hill to the north. As we headed up the view to the south revealed itself. So far in Guinea, the land had been gently undulating and, without the forest of Sierra Leone, you could see for miles across the plain. Here we were close to the border and the northern edge of the Kuru Hills abruptly rose up and imposed itself on Kansema. Deep in the hills were chimpanzees and elephants, so close to a manicured human landscape on the Guinea side. Here was the physical evidence of the fine balance needed for thriving environments but sustainable livelihoods.
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