Mama Salone, You Do Not Mourn Alone

Freetown, Sierra Leone
A coastal view of Freetown, Sierra Leone (photo by David Hond)

Mama Salone, you do not mourn alone.  

On Monday, August 14, 2017, a mudslide took place on the outskirts of  Freetown, Sierra Leone in the rural, mountain town of Regent. To date, 499 bodies have been unearthed, 600 people are listed as missing, and it is estimated that the number of victims is well over 1,000. As death and destruction run their course in Sierra Leone, once again, when it comes to the loss of Black lives, silence presides over the West. As a child of Salone and as an advocate for Black lives, I implore you to amplify these happenings and lend your support.

Sierra Leone, known by natives as Mama Salone (or simply Salone) is a coastal country in West Africa. Its capital, Freetown, was founded by once enslaved Black ancestors determined to reclaim their freedom. The liberation we fight for today is the same liberation our ancestors have struggled for over centuries and across continents. For nearly 30 years, Sierra Leone has grappled with grief. First it was a civil war prompted by a foreign thirst for blood diamonds, then it was Ebola, and now last week’s mudslide.

The Cotton Tree
The symbolic Cotton Tree in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Tradition says that the formerly enslaved settlers of Freetown would congregate and pray under the tree to express their joy for freedom. (photo by Travis Lupick)

As the death toll rises and our siblings in Sierra Leone desperately seek aid, Western news has largely failed to uplift their calls for support. The difference between news coverage of tragedies affecting white and Western people versus tragedies affecting Black people has always been striking. It is again apparent when looking at the coverage of Sierra Leone’s mudslide. Across continents, value and attention is continually absent for those birthed into Black skin.

As Black people, it’s easy to become numb to the world continually neglecting to come to our aid. Do not let this turn into apathy. We aren’t strangers to dealing with assaults from multiple fronts (like in Charlottesville) and we must continue to uplift the voices of those who white supremacy has created a tradition around muting. We must not forget that colonization has lasting impacts and white supremacy’s effects reach far across the globe.

Today, we mourn the lost lives of our siblings in Sierra Leone and we offer our support to those who continue to search for relief. Please consider supporting Black lives and Sierra Leone by donating via our Amazon List for Sierra Leone Relief.  All donations will go to families within the Regent community via the Maryland Drop Off Center at the Salone International Market. We must always align our struggles as Black people and continually support each other in our fight for freedom.

 

– post written by Darya Nicol

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