Days and Nights of Freetown – New Road

Jan had no fear and also a much stronger 4WD Toyota Land Cruiser.  He had been running around the back streets of Freetown looking out for historical artefacts.  Freetown was at the head of a peninsula that always feels separated from the rest of Sierra Leone.  It was the gateway to a large part of west Africa, having the best deep water harbour along a stretch of the Atlantic Coast from Nigeria to Morocco.  The original inhabitants of the peninsula were the Koya Temne and the Krio that now dominated culture and ethnicity there were descendants of freed slaves that had been given the land “forever” by the local tribes.  Hence the name Freetown.  The British could not keep their hands off the region though and used Freetown as a base for their trading.  The usual trappings of colonialization were set up; not just the old warehouses and substantial merchants buildings in the centre of the old city, but fortifications on the many hillsides to protect this fortuitous location.

Jan had scoured old documents and maps and found that several of the cannons still existed across the city and had spent some weekends looking for them.  He had also visited the oldest school in west Africa, and gone searching for other historical colonial artefacts.

Jan and I made a couple of other excursions down the peninsula.  One day we drove down to the point where Kofi had turned back and Jan gingerly dropped down this potholed but once tarmacced road.  The road, flanked by thick vegetation turned to the right onto a badly maintained concrete bridge across a river.  The potholed highway continued up the other valleyside and then … bump bump…  you were up onto a smooth well maintained bit of metalling.  Kofi and I had turned back less than half a kilometre from where the good road started.  The chaos of the road out of Freetown was all down to the construction from the Chinese who decided to tear up the whole countryside one time before laying a road, as opposed to progressively rolling out a finished product.  To the north of us was thirty miles of dust and mud.

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Time to get on the road

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