I have a lot of things to say – but I don't know how or where to begin – and in all honestly I feel I have no right to say a word – because as one who briefly loved Freetown, I lived without the scars of the war. I just want to see the place again. I wrote a poem about Freetown before the war reached. That's over 15 years ago – the war must have been just about beginning.
I never realised over these years that the root cause of the war was over diamonds. I believe it was – because that is what Sorious Samura said and I take his word – because he was willing to die for Freetown and for filming the footage of "Cry Freetown" the traumatic real life documentary of the siege in Freetown in 1999. Filmed to show the world what was happening. This brutal war and unrest lasted years.... like other African civil wars. I had always thought there must be a deep cause – some historical deep rooted tribal and international cause – but the pure, selfish exploitation takes its credit and has reigned free and I wonder how the whole world is standing yet when forces such as that have been unchecked. I can't get over it, and I don't think I ever will. And I wasn't even there...
(by Elisabeth Smith early 1990's)
There is a diamond rich, poverty poor country that used to be my home.
Lion Mountain the meaning and Sierra Leone the name:
The roads are covered in holes
Tin roofed wooden houses look like they'll fall down.
Colonial buildings still stand.
A bell on an old church rings.
An Islamic cry sounds throughout the town.
A skinny dog sniffs food in open gutters.
Two young boys run barefoot through the streets.
A lady carries a bowl of peanuts on her head.
A young man chews on a kaola nut as he wanders down the road.
The sun goes down and fills the skies with radiant orange and red.
Dust rises as a little girl pushes her metal wire wheel toy.
She walks towards a now candle lit stall selling candies and cigarettes for a penny.
People are begging. Others are dancing.
Some are hungry while others are high.
A distant tribal drum beats from the mountain jungles.
Does it speak of previous war – or one to come?
There is a natural truth under the African sun.
I laughed and ran with street kids.
Ate fresh pineapple on the beach and watched 13 foot waves.
My journey is now taking me to new worlds, peoples and lands.