SIJERA LEONE – SIERRA LEONE

Jutarnji ulov-Morning catch

Jutarnji ulov-Morning catch

Orijentir u glavnom gradu-A landmark in the capital

Orijentir u glavnom gradu-A landmark in the capital

Pogled iz hotela-A view from the Mammy Yoko Hotel

Pogled iz hotela-A view from the Mammy Yoko Hotel

Pogled na glavni grad-A view of Freetown

Pogled na glavni grad-A view of Freetown

Siroce-A Chimpanzee orphan

Siroce-A Chimpanzee orphan

Sud u glavnom gradu-The Law Courts in central Freetown

Sud u glavnom gradu-The Law Courts in central Freetown

Ulica u Fritaunu-A street in Freetown

Ulica u Fritaunu-A street in Freetown

Vojnici Ujedinjenih nacija ulaze u avion-UN soldiers boarding the plane

Vojnici Ujedinjenih nacija ulaze u avion-UN soldiers boarding the plane

Jedna od najlepsih plaza na svetu - The beautiful Beach River No. 2

Jedna od najlepsih plaza na svetu – The beautiful Beach River No. 2

Jedna od najlepsih plaza na svetu-The beautiful Beach River No. 2

Jedna od najlepsih plaza na svetu-The beautiful Beach River No. 2

Oduvek sam se pitao odakle potiče ime koje nosi ova zemlja iz engleske
kolonijalne sfere, zaboravljajući da su Portugalci uvek bili oni koji bi
prvi otkrili i osvojili neku teritoriju kao svoju novu koloniju. Ime u
prevodu sa portugalskog znači planina lavova, jer po velikom nevremenu
gromovi snažno udaraju u zaleđe obale gde se nalaze visoke planine, tako da
taj zvuk podseća na riku lavova.
Nesrećna istorija zemlje povezana je sa njenim dijamantima, koje je priroda
učinila lako dostupnim, a korumpirani vladari sredstvom za lično bogaćenje.
Sve to je odvelo zemlju u strahote građanskog ratovanja u kome su i deci
davane puške u ruke.
U vreme posete Sijera Leoneu moja prijateljica Marina Džunić radila je u tom
gradu kao arhitekta Ujedinjenih nacija u obnovi infrastrukture zemlje koja
je upravo izlazila iz građanskog rata.
Već samo prebacivanje iz Konakrija u susednoj Gvineji u glavni grad Fritaun,
u poluraspadnutom ruskom avionu sa nekoliko stotina pilića u tesno sabijenim
kavezima u repu aviona, obećavalo je dobru avanturu. Po dolasku na aerodrom,
morao sam da se ukrcam u helikopter Ujedinjenih nacija, takođe ruske
proizvodnje i u sličnom stanju kao avion. On me je konačno prevezao do
njihove baze, uz koju se nalazio u gradu jedini pristojan hotel čudnog imena
Mammy Yoko, po imenu vođe naroda Mende u XIX veku. Bilo je to retko sigurno
mesto u kome se moglo odsesti u ovoj nesrećnoj zemlji, ali ja sam bio srećan
što sam u njoj.
Fritaun ima lepe velike peščane plaže, kao i cela zemlja, i jednu od
najlepših na svetu koja se naziva Beach River No. 2. Na njoj je, nekada
davno, u mirna i dobra post kolonijalna vremena, sniman čuveni film Pobuna
na brodu Baunti sa Marlon Brandom u glavnoj ulozi. Danas sam, nažalost, na
toj plaži i u toj nestvarnoj lepoti potpuno sâm, ako ne računam vozača i
lokalnog čuvara koji mi donosi ostrige sa ušća reke, koja ovde ulazi u more
na velikom tirkiznom prostranstvu. A da bih došao do ove plaže, bilo je
potrebno proći nekoliko punktova različitih vojski Ujedinjenih nacija, koje
ovde održavaju prividni red i mir. Ta jedinstvena lepota, međutim, vredela
je svakog trenutka strahovanja kako će se do nje stići, a isto tako i
vratiti po veoma lošem putu. Posle svega, najbolji riblji karpaćo probao sam
u jednom libanskom restoranu u gradu, što je bilo dovoljna nagrada za
učinjeni napor.
Zapadna Afrika ipak ima i nekih svojih malih čari.

Januar 2003.
________________________________________________________

I always asked myself where the name of this country came from, given that
it belonged to the English colonial sphere, whilst forgetting that the
Portuguese were always the first to discover a new territory and turn it
into their colony. In translation from Portuguese, the name means ‘The Lion
Mountain’, because during big storms, when thunder hits the inland area
behind the coast and its huge mountains, the resulting sound reminds of a
lion’s roar.
The unfortunate history of this country is connected with the diamonds which
nature has made easily accessible and which the corrupted rulers turned into
a means of their own enrichment. All this led the country into the horrors
of civil war in which even the children were given arms to fight.
At the time of my visit to Sierra Leone, my friend, Marina Džunić, worked
there as an architect for the United Nations, on the project of renewing the
country’s infrastructure as it has just come out of the war. Just the trip
from Conakry in the neighbouring Guinea to the capital Freetown, in a half
decayed Russian aircraft with a couple hundred chickens squashed in cages at
the back of the aircraft’s tail, promised a great adventure. Upon arrival at
the airport I had to board the UN helicopter, also of Russian make, and in a
similar state. It finally took me to the UN base next to which the only
decent hotel was located. It had a strange name – Mammy Yoko, but later I
learned that she was a leader of the Mende people in the 19th century. This
was a rarely safe place in which you could stay in this unfortunate country
but I was happy that I was in Sierra Leone.
Freetown has lovely vast sandy beaches, just like the rest of the country,
including one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – which is called
the Beach River No. 2. A long time ago, in those peaceful post colonial
times the famous Mutiny on the Bounty starring Marlon Brando was shot there.
Today, sadly, I am all alone on this surreally beautiful beach with the
exception of my driver and the beach guard who brings me oysters from the
delta where the river joins the sea in a vast turquoise expanse. And to
reach the beach I had to pass several checkpoints belonging to various UN
troops who supposedly keep peace and order. Yet this unique beauty was worth
every moment of fear about how I would get there, as well as the return on a
very bad road back to the city. Yet, I had the best fish carpaccio in a
Lebanese restaurant in the city, which was a sufficient reward for my
efforts.
West Africa still has its own charms to offer.

January 2003

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