It was about 35 degrees Celsius on a Thursday afternoon when the vehicle I was travelling in pulled up to a gate in Aberdeen, West of Freetown. I chuckled and said to my drive “we don reach sef?”, which translates as “are we here already”. Either I was too busy on my laptop to notice the drove from IMAT (where I was stayed for my holiday), or the journey was much shorter than I anticipated.
By the time the gatekeeper opened the gate to let us in, I was already out of the vehicle and trying to figure out where the reception area was. I absolutely dislike sitting in a vehicle waiting for gates to be opened, drivers to park properly or even being held up in the Freetown traffic. In fact I do not like to be chauffeured around but as someone who cannot drive, I have very little choice in the matter. As a result, I try to spend as little time as possible in any vehicle. The minute I sense there could be a slight hold up, I am out of the vehicle walking towards my destination.
Freetown! What can I say about this beautiful city that has not already been said? Apparently there is a lot more but I’ll save that for future posts as I have so much more to share with you all.
For now, I am just going to share a few photos I took during one of many family vacations to this wonderful city. Before I leave you to enjoy the pictures, here are a few facts about this historically rich and important city.
– Freetown is the capital city of Sierra Leone.
– European explores first reached Freetown in the 15th century
– Freetown was had the first colony of freed slaves in Africa, dubbed the “Province of freedom”.
– Has the largest natural harbour in Africa
– Has West Africa’s oldest university, Fourah Bay College, established in 1827
– Population of a little over 1.2 million
– In a recent research, Sierra Leone is listed second on the list of countries with the best diets in the world.
This is what lonely planet has to say about Freetown. “And it might just be the only capital in the world where when you emerge from the airport, blinking after an overnight flight, you find yourself standing on the wooden deck of a port flanked by a backdrop of mountains, beaches and palm trees so idyllic you wonder if it’s real. Well it’s all real, all of it – the chatter and the chaos and the colour and the dirt and the lush lobster dinners and the devastating war history – and those lovely white sands too”. Need I say any more?
So when planning your next holiday, think outside the box and consider Freetown. The fact that it might not be the obvious choices for first time visitors makes it even more thrilling and satisfying to anyone that makes the leap of faith.
Just a quick note to say that the photos below do not cover the entire city and were taken at only two out of many beautiful beaches that dots the Freetown peninsular. Come back soon as I will be sharing my experiences with a bit of rich history of Freetown and its surroundings backed with beautiful pictures.
As summer ushers in the peak wedding season for UK residents, its fitting for me to share some images of an amazing wedding I attended a few months ago between friends of mine Abi and Sam. This was not just any other wedding but a traditional Nigerian wedding.
Anyone who has ever been to a Nigerian wedding will tell you that they are colourful, lengthy, entertaining, vibrant and big. I mean there is no dull moment in a Nigerian wedding and Abi and Sam’s wedding was no exception. Armed with the knowledge that food and Afrobeat music was going to be in plentiful supply, I was determined to have an amazing time. After all, this would be my first experience of a traditional Nigerian or more appropriately, a Yoruba wedding.
Traditional African weddings are as old as humanity itself. In fact they are only referred to as such to differentiate them from western style weddings more commonly known as “white weddings”. The term white wedding has its roots from the Victorian era when Queen Victoria wore a white lace to marry Prince Albert in 1840. I don’t know why Queen Victoria thought it necessary to break the norm of wearing coloured garments but this has somehow become the de facto dress code for brides, with the entire ceremony now referred to as white wedding. I guess she has earned herself the title of trendsetter when it comes to wedding dresses.
Fast-forward to current day, a lot of couples choose to do both white and Traditional African weddings to cater for the Christian religious aspect and to bring in line their traditional identity as is customary in most tribes in Africa. Even though some might argue that traditional weddings are only an engagement ceremony and a prelude to white wedding, I happen to think that they have all the pedigree to make them full weddings depending on how the ceremony is carried out. Anyway, I am not a wedding expert so I will leave that for you to decide.
What Abi and Sam wore was absolutely beautiful. Not only are the colours vibrant and beautiful, the style encapsulate the tradition of the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Their garments are both made from a special cloth called Asa oke fabric hand loomed in western Nigeria. Asa oke means top cloth in English.
What they wore
Iro – a red with gold floral wrap skirt
Buba – a gold blouse
Gele – a red with gold floral head tie
Earring – Red and gold earring with matching necklace.
Shoes – Christian Louboutin
Agbada – Red and gold outer wear
Trouser – Cream linen
Shirt – Cream linen
Hat – Red and gold made from Aso oke
Shoes – Jimmy Choo
I am sure you will agree with me that this wonderful couple knows how to mix traditional attire with high end fashion to create a beautiful whole.
This was truly an amazing ceremony I was honoured to be a part of and if you are not familiar with the Yoruba tradition and custom of marriage, I hope you have learnt something new. If you are Yoruba or familiar to the tradition, feel free to leave a comment below if there is anything you would like to add. Enjoy the rest of the photos.