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Cultural display at the Western Area Peninsular as Community people performed to bury the dead

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya

I can still remember my childhood days in Northern Sierra Leone where traditional activities and cultural performances are displayed on a daily basis at night during the dry season and on festive and social occasions. During these days in Kambia, children, women, men and all sects of adults come together and merry especially during the harvest season. We used to eat a lot and plan which village we should visit next for performance. Nearly thirty years ago, there were various kinds of cultural performances in my village and the entire district such as the Bubu, the Ojeh, the “Yamama”, the ‘Sayboi’ to name just a few of the lots but all these cultural and traditional performances has faded away because of modernism and education. People don’t care now days and even if one is to be performed most of the people will rather decide to go and watch live Manchester games than watch cultural performances in his community.

Attracting tourists with Cultural performance at the Boboh community

As the settlements in the provincial districts are allowing their traditional and cultural performances to go away from practice, the communities in the hinterland of the Western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve has decided not to allow their culture and tradition to disappear away but put it into their forefront just as their forefathers had handled those traditions and cultures for over fifty years ago.

Boboh Community lies around the Peninsular and about 20km deep west from the capital city. Seven hundred people live in the community with a total settlement of 37 houses. The community has one primary school and after completion of first stage of education, their children will proceed to other places like Hamilton for a secondary education. The community main source of income in the past is fishing but the deputy headman for the village; Theophilus Walker said they are now intending to unearth the potentials of tourism in the community.

There were dancing, singing and cultural performances by the Boboh Community people. Mr. Theophilus said the cultural show and performance marked the end and call to eternity of one of their main brother (Pa Alfred Martin Bawota) after serving their group for over forty years. He said “when a member died, cultural performances must be done to give him the last respect and honor on earth”.

The Boboh Community attracts tourists for its beach and beautiful trees and it has been visited by tourists in the past. Mr. Walker now urges the government of Sierra Leone and partners to boost and assist tourism in their community. “We will appreciate any boost from the government” he said. However, the Project Manager for the Western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve, Mr. Jochen Moninger has promised to assist the community will various kinds of cultural instruments as long as they will ensure they desist from activities within the forest area.

The community people use the cultural show and performance as one in which they can enhance peace and harmony within themselves in the community without harming any one. Mr. Walker reflected on the past that there is no bad to show or point at which the community people had done to any person. “Our cultural performances are devoid of evil and bad” he said in an interview to standard Times. The headman of the village, Gibrilla Kargbo also said in other to ensure unity and peace in the community, they have decided to perform with the women in the village.

Mr. Theophilus maintained that in the past they use to perform for long periods of time but as they are now planning to ensure they boost tourism through cultural performances, they will now begin to perform on a regular basis with a particular date so that all those interested in the tourism and their traditional and cultural shows will be present.

Onlookers at the cultural performance in Boboh village

Explaining further on the other cultural shows they have, Mr. Walker said they have the “Koboi” festival which is normally performed when a member of the community or neighboring people hired them for marriages, naming ceremonies, welcoming of key figures or other social activities. When asked on their preparedness for tourism, Mr. Walker said his people are prepared to attract tourism and culture in the community as it was already manifested through the cultural performances they have played.

The Boboh community might be a potential tourism site in the country. Although the Sierra Leone government hasn’t championed the issue of tourism (source Ernest Bai Koroma’s interview to CNN 2010), the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs must ensure they boost the community just as the project Manager for WAPFOR, Jochen Moninger had promised.

Meanwhile, the Boboh community will soon benefit from a giant tank constructed by WAPFOR to serve more than 2000 people in the community. Construction works are on progress.

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