The beach along the southern side of Freetown is the place for sunbathing, swimming, playing, flirting, taking a stroll and playing football, playing football, playing football….There is one game after another, very often the improvised goal being used by two games at the same time back- to –back. Good games, too, with a lot of energy being spent on the soft sand. Players are friendly, stopping for a hello if not caught in the heat of the game, and posing happily. It is such a pleasure to see so much young, happy, energetic humanity. They are all poor, they eat very little but right now, it doesn’t matter - the king of sports charms us all, players and spectators on this great background…the Atlantic.
This succession was interrupted by the sound of drums. Rhythmic, joyful, the unmistakable, rhythm that urges one to move in rhythm, to engage in dance. I approached. A group of dancers, men and women were engaged in an intricate and energetic dance. At a point the dance becomes a charade and I get the explanation: one man has revealed the secrets of his secret society to the women and now he is punished – killed and the women are paralyzed with fear at what they have seen…the audience surrounds entranced the dancers, the kids dance too on the side… I click my camera again and again and for once I wish I had a video to capture the motion and the sound and he rhythm and the energy. I am not a magician photographer to capture all the “joie de vivre” of these dancers.
They are dressed in casual clothes for the people here, not any fancy costumes. After the ‘show’ they pass a hat, a few Leones are collected. I am in my bathing shorts only but for once I feel the need to give. I go back fast to my hotel and get some money and I catch them as they take a snack of cassava mash, their dinner, before parting, and I talk to them. They would like the get my pictures, none of them has a camera, but one of them has an email account so I will send them some. They are an informal group, amateurs, they don’t give any paid shows but hope to do so sometime in the future when there will be a market for their talent. Right now…they just love to practice on the beach. And I love them…and this is another face of Africa!