Freetown, Sierra Leone: we rise above the dust

*Song translation- ()

The song, “Friton we Komot” by collaborating artists That Boy Jay, Icon, Peti_T, AA and Ejatu is a political hip hop piece discussing the state of Freetown, Sierra Leone in a political and social sense. The first few verses of the rap is a stark articulation of poverty and from my experience a very Sierra Leonean mindset. The verse goes, 

Wake na morning nack me cold ress en plasas (Wake in the morning and devour cold rice and sauce)

Tell God tenki please protect me from dem bad heart (Tell God thank you, please protect me from their wickedness)

Ar born na gron usai den day use CUTLASS (I was born where they use machete)

For chap man, becos ee tiff for eat en forget bout the politician (to cut people, because they stole to eat and forgot about the politician)

The verse is in Krio, so to translate he characterizes a mindset I have come to admire about Sierra Leoneans, which is a level of contentment or gratification they create for themselves even though they might not have that much. This is due to the fact that they don’t necessarily focus on the absence of what they have; rather deal with what’s in front of them. Sierra Leoneans have a perspective which sees small achievements of necessity, such as food or “cold ress” (cold rice), as something to be grateful for. I think this ultimately explains the resilience and adaptive nature of Sierra Leoneans that the song verbalizes through out the song in the chorus,

Na Friton we komot (We are from Freetown)

Me daddy minister that means the case na buff (My dad is a minister that means the the case is easy)

Any sie we dey we sabi adjust (anywhere we are we know how to adjust)

Dem cut we hand, long short, ee nor matter, we rise above the dust (they cut ours hand, long or short, it doesn’t matter, We rise above the dust)

The more conclusive message of the rap is the politics of Sierra Leone and its effect on the  people. In both example verses above, they rap about the corruption of the politician and the self important and undeserving status of the minister leading to the poverty and endangerment of the people. There are many references to the Sierra Leonean Civil War and the tactics used by rebel groups on civilians, which used the widespread practice of the “long or short sleeve” policy. This left many Sierra Leoneans with their arms cut off at a long or short length by dull machetes. Civilians were terrorized by being given the option to choose which arm and at what length they were going to have an amputation.

Fundamentally, the rap is an authentic articulation of the struggles of life in Freetown, Sierra Leone and expresses a call to action to instill hope and agency among Sierra Leoneans to want better for up and coming generations.

View of Freetown, Sierra Leone from Lester Peak

* Photo taken by me

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