A year ago, I went back home – Sierra Leone. A trip of a lifetime. I wanted to reconnect and reminisce with that of my upbringing and reflect on the journey of transformation so far.
What re-ignites these reconnections are the moments of laughter and fun, occasionally some bruises too. As for many boys/men growing up it was Football – street football in third world countries. Using natural environmental materials at disposal to be creative in order to have fun. Stones/timber as goal post, flip-flops as boots, our daily casual clothes as match-kits (sometimes vestless). Amongst the midst of cars & bikes constantly flowing past we often stop and resume once they’ve vanished.
A mix of Olders and youngers dripping in sweats under a 40 plus degrees heat, sweats sometimes washed away from our skin down into the Gutters of Freetown during rainy season. The best sensation was when it rains. We try to avoid kicking the ball into the open gutters flowing in high velocity of rainy waters as you’d end up chasing it forever. Bystanders stalling; wanting to be a part of the scene as they too could relate to the atmospheric adrenaline of adults & kids in flip flops kicking ball made out of used plastic. The energy is competitive and special.
I was strolling in the neighbourhood at some point during my visit and came across this scenery – once again. But this time I was the bystander who stalled, admired and took pictures. Itching to blend in once more, smiled at how lucky they are to be playing on a tarmac floor as I didn’t have such luxury growing up.
A way to pay tribute before my departure was to organise a football match calling on all the Olders & youngers within the neighbourhood I grew up in. People who played a significant part in my life – like literally. They turned up in abundance having conservations with each other on: ‘Last time I saw you was 2yrs ago’ or ‘I haven’t seen this guy for God knows how long‘. We played, had food refreshment, reminisce and went our separate ways. A hobby best described as a language of togetherness.