Kent, Western Peninsula, Sierra Leone

The usual reason to visit Kent is to catch a boat to the Banana Islands, about half an hour away, but we decided to have a look around the village’s historic sites.

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Our first impression of the village was not the best as we parked beside an earthen football pitch, strewn with plastic debris. Some men loitering nearby became a little belligerent when we said we just wanted to walk around the village, but later were more amenable and offered to show us around.

Boats are launched from both sides of a sandy isthmus which joins the village to a rocky outcrop. Fishermen were busy mending their nets. The Banana Islands floated hazily on the distant horizon.

From the fishing port, a sweep of pristine sand curves towards the hills. This beautiful beach was deserted. The lack of facilities and lack of any road direct to the beach must deter visitors, although there are a couple of resorts at the far end. The superstitious might be put off by the presence of a graveyard just behind the beach. A beautiful location to be laid to rest, marred slightly by the ubiquitous plastic debris blowing around behind the beach. Men were clearing the beach, but seemed to dump their collection behind the sand.

Between the village and the fishing port is the remains of the old slave baracoon, marked by a laterite wall, in places being absorbed back to nature. In the middle is the current primary school built directly on what was the holding pen for slaves – now only visible through small slits which allowed a minimum of fresh air into the space (the black section of the wall). The small door was barred and locked, but it was obvious that the height of the inner chamber was less than an adult would need to stand. The quarters above, now replaced, were used by the slave traders.

Back in the village we were shown other remains of old buildings used by slave traders, who collected slaves from the interior here, before transferring them to the Banana Islands or other trading points such as Bunce Island where they would be loaded on ocean going vessels to cross the Atlantic.

Down a track, to another part of the shore we found an abandoned sea-pool and derelict house. This was the seaside home of Siaka Stevens, former president.

The Stevens family still owns the site and a building next door, which was at one time a library, but is being renovated as a private house.

The church service was in full swing as we passed by and the two policemen on duty at the old colonial police station were busy doing their washing.

So, having thanked our guide we left Kent content that we had seen the historic sites. We returned past Burreh beach to the less visited John Obey. Here at Tribewanted, we ordered lunch then walked the length of the approximately 2km pristine beach, which is backed by a large lagoon preventing access from the peninsula road. At the far end of the beach a private dwelling has the only other access to the road.

Tribewanted aims to develop sustainable tourism in cooperation with local communities. Guests stay and get involved in building the sustainable infrastructure. Here at John Obey, one of the projects was the adobe houses inspired by CalEarth made from local materials and designed to have natural air conditioning with intakes low down on the walls and outlets high up (using the principle of warm air rising).

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We went into the larger dome (not pictured) and found, in the middle of the day, it was indeed cool inside. There are also two wooden huts for rent, with bucket showers. The toilets on site are composting in line with the sustainable ethos.

Our lunch of grilled fish, chipped sweet potato and papaya was served overlooking the sea at a shady table. Nearby hammocks swayed in the breeze. It’s certainly a peaceful spot in which to chill for a few hours or indeed to stay overnight.

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2 thoughts on “Kent, Western Peninsula, Sierra Leone

  1. Pingback: So long Salone! | Impressions of Sierra Leone

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