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24 April 2019 / leggypeggy

Village life in West Africa—welcome to Byama

Byama chief and his wife, Sierra Leone

Paying our respects to the chief and his wife (outside his house)

Byama chief and his mother, Sierra Leone

The chief poses with his mother

Africa’s big cities can be as cosmopolitan, crowded and commercial as those in other parts of the world, but many of her villages are set in another time.

Over the last two months, we’ve travelled more than 6000 kilometres through six West African countries. In addition to staying in a few hotels and hostels, we’ve camped in the middle of nowhere, in school grounds, in hotel gardens and in villages.

Villages are certainly the most fun and most educational. This is because we get to interact with people and have a close-up look at their lives. That means peeking inside houses, sampling local dishes and learning smatterings of a local language.

It’s not unusual to meet people who speak three or four languages—in West Africa that’s English and/or French plus one or two native languages. Later I’ll introduce you to Hassan who speaks six languages.

But today is a trip to Byama (spelling?) in rural Sierra Leone. It’s about 2 miles from Kambama, the village we stayed in after the truck fell through the bridge.

Mohamed, our host in Kambama, walked a group of us to Byama and introduced us around town. Our first task was to visit the village chief and pay our respects. That’s what you do whenever you enter a small village.

We met him, his pregnant wife, his mother and some extended family. We also met the school principal and his two wives (yes two). The school is in Kambama, but the principal and teachers live in Byama.

Then we were guided through the village and encouraged to take pictures. Byama and Kambama do not have electricity or running water. Both do have village wells that are pump-it-yourself operations.

As in most villages, we were swarmed by children at every step. They love to stroke your skin, feel your hair, shake hands, clap, have their pictures taken and try out some English words.

It’s good to be reminded that we are the unusual ones and that we have been welcomed into their realm as guests and not as intruders.

Our visit to Byama was one of the activities offered by Kambama village, and we each paid about $5 for the excursion. The next day, a few of us did a similar stroll through Kambama. Interesting how villages are the same, but different.

Byama, Sierra Leone

Children looking at pics of themselves

Byama, Sierra Leone

Laundry undercover in case of rain

Byama, Sierra Leone

The school principal shows off some plant cultivation

Byama, Sierra Leone

Kitchens are simple affairs in Byama


Leave a Comment
  1. Sy S. / Apr 24 2019 11:07 am

    I absolutely love the opportunity went the children come out to greet groups of foreigners… The beautiful smiles, giggles, a little shyness and some foreign words to try out. Great photography shots to capture and they love to see themselves in the camera’s back screen.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Dreamtemples / Apr 24 2019 1:16 pm

    Beautiful pictures, Peggy.Villages do seem to belong to another time. Life in the villages even in India seems so simple and there is so much of genuine warmth and hospitality.
    Byama looks a lot like villages in Tamilnadu and Kerala with lots of greenery and coconut trees.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 24 2019 4:12 pm

      Yes, there are many similarities between villages in West Africa and villages in India. I need to show more of both.


  3. gerard oosterman / Apr 24 2019 1:24 pm

    Yes, that shows real adventure and discovery of different cultures and people. I noticed the school principal looking remarkably relaxed. I suppose having two wives might help. In in the next shot he seems to be overlooking the cooking, no doubt one of his wives doing this task.
    Did I notice a small solar panel on one of the roofs? Better keep Morrison away from that picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 24 2019 4:14 pm

      We had a laugh about the principal. He was getting two dinners that night—one with chicken and one with fish. Methinks two wives is not so good for your figure. 🙂
      Solar panels are quite common now in Africa. Well spotted.


  4. macalder02 / Apr 24 2019 2:05 pm

    A tireless globetrotter. Further in the heart of Africa and we learn how is the life of its inhabitants. A chronicle that has no waste in the narration and the photos clearly show how the life of its inhabitants develops. All a feat of a long-range expedition. Good for you for living that adventure without equal. regards

    Liked by 1 person

  5. efge63 / Apr 24 2019 2:11 pm

    Thank you for showing me pictures of the other side of the world we live in!
    The most beautiful post of your travel!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 24 2019 4:22 pm

      Thanks. I have lots more villages to show

      Liked by 1 person

      • efge63 / Apr 24 2019 4:35 pm

        Thank you Peggy!! I am looking forward to more of your work down along the way on this journey that we share.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Apr 27 2019 8:22 am

        Thanks so much. I’m posting as often as I can. Internet is very unreliable.


  6. thewonderer86 / Apr 24 2019 4:23 pm

    This is such a fascinating trip Peggy. Everything you write makes me think about so many things. Many of them a variation on how blessed I am. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 27 2019 8:08 am

      Yes, so many of us are very blessed. It’s a good thing to remember that.


  7. Emma Cownie / Apr 24 2019 4:53 pm

    I love the photos of the children’s excited faces. Such a delight.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. beetleypete / Apr 24 2019 5:42 pm

    They seem happy enough, with very little, and few possessions. A lesson we could learn in the West. The chickens look rather nervous, and with good reason. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 27 2019 8:10 am

      Oh Pete, we in the West have so much to learn. The chickens must hope that tomorrow comes soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Gilda Baxter / Apr 24 2019 6:14 pm

    Wonderful post, I am loving reading about your incredible trip. Do you feel quite safe visiting this part of Africa? It is great to be able to interact with locals and learn about their way of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 27 2019 8:11 am

      I have felt very, very safe everywhere we’ve been. I felt the same in 2009 when we travelled in Africa for 11 months.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. derrickjknight / Apr 24 2019 6:51 pm

    Lovely photographs. The contrast between the intimacy of village life and the anonymity of city life has its parallels over here

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The Year I Touched My Toes / Apr 24 2019 10:39 pm

    Truck fell through a bridge? I think I need to go back a post or two…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Alison and Don / Apr 25 2019 10:11 am

    Wonderful photos Peggy. I love how the kids want to follow you everywhere.
    With no electricity or running water and cooking over fires – it’s just like camping out – only for life. I’ve down it for months at a time and oh how it makes me appreciate our modern conveniences.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sande Olocho / Apr 26 2019 1:50 am

    Beautiful. My people have a saying, ‘The world is a forest, there is way too much to learn in there, only if you travel through it not sit on the edge’

    Liked by 1 person

  14. paolsoren / Apr 26 2019 9:36 am

    It is so good to see the smiling bright faces of the children. I have just seen the same smiles in the Torres Strait.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 27 2019 8:14 am

      The kids are so darn photogenic. I’m running out of camera battery every time I turn around.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Derrick / Apr 27 2019 9:18 am

    I remember when we stopped at a village (about 20-30 in the village)
    We camped in one of their lowed fields, in the morning we went to meet the chief, he gave us free reign to look round
    There was a girl chopping wood, she wasn’t chopping it how we did on the truck, she was doing it length ways and with their version of an axe (it was a wooden handle with a sharp rock for the blade)
    She reduced it to kindling in minutes, then she showed me how they lit a fire and how to place the wood so it would burn all day or night
    Instead of just piling wood in a heap, with small stuff at the bottom, nope she put a small pile to start with, then used bigger bits as it got going (she started it with a flint and steel)
    When she had a decent fire going, she placed a shortish length in the fire, end on, as it burnt down the log got pushed in (she used 3 logs for this, about 6 foot long)
    It wasn’t a huge fire, about a hatful, but enough to hang a couple of pots over on a tripod
    It was faster to light than anything we had done, she reduced a length of wood (about 20 feet long) to shreds in minutes, a lot faster than anyone on the truck could have done it
    The village was self sufficient, they sold off any extra crops in the market, they had solar panels on every hut roof, it was for the tv (they got a teacher on there, teaching them (something I only though happened in Australia)
    We were the only white people they had seen in a few years, they didn’t eat with us, but they did offer us a meal, which we shared much to their delight
    They came on to the truck, they liked the way we stored canned food under the floor (we gave them spaghetti and baked beans and I gave them my camping can opener, they gave us fruit and some spuds, (which we couldn’t find in any markets) carrots
    We spent nearly all day in the village,, poking into huts and asking questions (some were pretty lame) but they tolerated us
    I showed the girl how I lit a fire, she hadn’t seen matches before,( I gave her 2 boxes )
    I was faster, but not by much and her fire was up and going well before mine was (I light fires her way now and chop logs the same way, but with a proper axe, it’s still faster than the way we used to and easier)
    So even if they live in a village and cut off from the rest of the world, you can learn from them
    I don’t know if 20-30 people in a village is viable, but they had everything they needed and all looked well fed
    Maybe the simple life is the way to go

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 1 2019 2:16 am

      Oh Derrick, this is a wonderful description of village life and how to get a fire going. I wish I’d had you show me when you visited Australia. What country was this in?


  16. pvcann / Apr 27 2019 7:23 pm

    Raw life, which we have less contact with until something goes wrong, how we forget! Such wonderful photos giing an insight into another life. I also want that motorbike seat cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 1 2019 2:17 am

      Oh my, there are lots of great motorbike seats in Africa. Glad you like the views of village life. More to come.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / May 1 2019 7:25 pm

    This is an eye-opening experience for me, even with the limitations that an on-line post presents. Still, to see people living with so few material things and so much joy on their faces is a reminder of how much i squander. The children captivate me – they express the fearlessness and curiosity of children everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 4 2019 4:49 am

      Almost every day in Africa is a reminder of how wasteful we can be. I feel blessed to be here.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. jeanleesworld / May 18 2019 12:18 pm

    Such a wonderful journey with moments of the everyday! Thank you for sharing this with us. xxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

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