In our first extract from the diary kept by an anonymous male visitor ( possibly of African heritage) to West Africa early in 1954 we left him looking around Freetown in February. We continue with his observations from the 13thof that month.
‘ People one pass in the street at 7.30 a.m. have pleasant odour. Had some paw-paw this morning. Did nothing spectacular this morning and afternoon. Went to the City Hotel this evening with Mr John and meet there a Swede seaman who had been in hospital. He is waiting for a ship to go home.
I went to the City Hotel this morning for a cup of tea. From the Hotel veranda I saw a queer thing—a middle age European and wife entered their car; the wife sat in front with the driver, the husband sat in the back alone. Got a cable from Sam at 11 o/c A.M.
Camara & I went to the City Hotel. There we were invited into the august comp. of Lawyer Mahoney, Markus Jones, Admin. Officer, who travelled on the Apapa with us, and a local newspaper man, and a building contractor. The discussions were very enlighting.
I saw a distasteful scene this afternoon in a primary school near Victoria Pk. A teacher was caning juvenile with all the vigour he can muster. Its was discraceful . Advance 30/- to John.
February 17, 1954.
I met a Somali in Victoria Pk. We were both listening to the radio news . Finally we got to know each other . I learnt a lot from him. He is a Moslem. The Syrians and the Indians in Freetown do not respect nor trust the inhabitants . They would rather keep a stranger in the city. There are three million Syrians out of Syria.
Got up as usual at 7 a.m. and went over to Lewis St. Had a bath and off to breakfast at 4, Wellington St. In the evening I went to Fourah bay Road to see Mr Abdu Kano, 26, Malta St, returned about 10 p.m.
The usual. Went for a walk in Krootown Road. Observation of Freetown. Humanity is a wasteful asset. At the hospital steps I saw a little boy with a bandage leg crying bitterly . Obviously from the out patient. A woman tried to talk to him, to no avail. Then with smelly sores, legs and feet undressed for months, could be seen sitting on pavements. A really touching sight.
Got my ticket this morning, and went to the immigration & got cleared. Had luncheon at the “hide” with V. John. Boarded the Apapa at 3.15 p.m. She pulled out of Freetown harbour at 7.20 p.m. Had a shower at 9.20 and wrote my diary. It is pleasant to think of going home ! George is also on board going home! It is 11.20 p.m. The ship’s radiogram is spinnng the record, my heart cry’s for you. I am thinking of you Mavis and wonder what you are doing now. I love you dear!
Feb 21st. Sunday. At sea. I woke up at 6.30 a.m. The moon shone brilliantly over the vast expanse of the sea. The sea was babbling softly like a babbling brook. Had a shower and wrote to you, my dear diary…
What under heaven has this world henceforth to do? Never supposing that it continued materially to exist, would this existence be worthy of the name of the Historical Dictionary? As a new example, as fresh victims of the inexorable moral laws, we shall perish by that which we have believed to be our means of existence…I appeal to every thinking to show me what remains of life. As for religion, I believe it useless to speak of it or to search for its relics.
He has not been able to evade involvement with the world’s problems by retreating into a safer world of private vision. “How can modern man, with his fallen nature, his Classic past, and his role in eternity, live a significant spiritual life within the materialism of modern civilisation?”
The field of enquiry is the individual soul. They have seen Christianity more as a sanctuary where they can from the horrors of modern civilisation than as an armoury from which they could march forth well-equipped for battle.
Price-ticketed, looking like an idealized Dante, the omens remain dark”. They did not live up to the hopes pinned on them! We can not spend for the present and invest for the future. To seek a way of living that is not shameful in its irresponsibility and lack of purpose. Against the massively evil purposelessness of this—The futility & the unreality of the dilettante. So & so places a duty on so & so, and ultimately it must be a duty upon all of us. So & so or not”. This is the emasculation, the poverty and the decadence of the modern orthodoxy.
February 22, 1954.
Got up as usual , and had a bath. Did some washing, sox and han kies. Talked a little politics…
To be continued