Setting Sail for ‘Home’ Inheriting My Parents’ Longings for Freetown

Half a century ago, I inherited my parents’ longings for Freetown, Sierra Leone. Unknown to me then, a two-week boat ride would become a lifelong journey.

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Banjul, Gambia

‘… will be a great adventure, don’t worry.’ I just about heard my mother’s voice trail away behind me as I looked up, lost in wonder at the ship we were about to board, the SS Winneba. Worry? Nothing could be further from my mind. I was five years old, with a vivid imagination and the thought of boarding a ship to sail the seas for nearly two weeks was more excitement and potential adventure than my heart could contain. Not only that, but we were also finally going back ‘home’ to Africa and, specifically, to Sierra Leone, that almost mythical (in our house anyway) country that our parents had left all those years ago to come and study in England. It was 1960 and having completed their studies, it was time to go back armed with the knowledge to contribute, live and work, in a soon-to-be-independent country.

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