03 December 2010

110 Reasons to Celebrate

Young dark-skinned girls in bright blue uniforms trimmed the auburn dirt main street of Moyamba. They waited in anticipation with smiles that were would have been hard to wipe off their faces even in spite of the blazing sun. The line up was act of respect, appreciation and welcome to the procession that was moving towards them from further up the street. As the parade moved closer to the tunnel of blue, you could begin to make out groups of ladies doing a sort of shuffle dance to music provided by traditional drums. The ladies where clothed in a variety of different blue Africana motifs. They moved down the street in celebration and with their leader being carried in a hammock by four strong and well-muscled men. The ladies danced, laughed and greeted the young girls as they came through the welcome tunnel. The old meet the new and were greeted like a group who had not been home for a very long time. The procession moved towards the bright blue and stark white metal gate and entered the campus in a jubilee cheer, followed closely the Mende “devil” completely covered in grass entertaining the parade and it’s onlookers with it’s pow wow like dance. With the parade over the blue uniformed girls filed back into the compound so the celebration could officially begin. Harford School for Girls was turning 110 and old girls from around from abroad and the country came to commemorate
Founded in 1900 by Methodist missionaries, amidst over a century of challenges and tribulations has become a leader in promoting girls education. The celebration kicked off with a special ceremony honoring the old girls who have found success following their secondary education, including four paramount chiefs, the current chief justice of the country, ambassadors, and many other professionals. All the old girls have a fierce intense pride for their school. For most of them, this is the place that kicked off their drive towards success.
The celebration continued with a clash of the Houses. The student body is split up into different ‘houses’ to have interschool competitions (yes, very much like Harry Potter) Harford blue was traded for Anderson pink, Gulama yellow, Kenny orange and Wilson green. Each house danced against each other with again the old girls and new girls commemorating together to create one of the biggest dance parties I have ever been to. The most recent African beats where not in short supply during the picnic and just so you know; everyone at Harford and Moyamba informed me I can not dance. True Story, this white girl can not ‘shake bodi’ like the Harford African girls…

The old girls danced into the night while the new girls were sent back to the boarding home, the morning came quick and was greeted by the flag raising ceremony of the Harford school flag and more honoring of the successful alumni. The old girls then danced into the night at a carnival at the sports stadium in Moyamba town; this time the little girls have to stay home and again I was told I can’t dance. Hahahah (really just trying to laugh it off)
The celebration concluded with an church service and once again all the girls, old and new took to the streets of Moyamba to march. It was great, like a homecoming parade with three marching bands, all the old girls dressed in white Africana dress with the blue Harford School symbol embossed on them and then of course the new girls with their blue dresses and berets. They marched throughout the town celebrating and displaying their school pride.
When you turn 110, invite 110 of your closest friend and dance until your feet hurt, or until the generator breaks or runs out of gas…

4 comments:

Becky said...

I just love your blog's Alli - miss you and when you get back maybe by that time you will be able to shake your bootie!!! Stay safe - have fun - love you!!!

Becky

by Chad Finer said...

your descriptions of where you are, what you are doing and seeing - they are wonderful. By accident I came across your site. As I previously posted My wife and I were in your same spot - a school (HRSS Kenema) in upcountry Sierra Leone. We were new to it all in 1968. I marvel and yet in the same breath I am discouraged at how little has changed in those 42 years. I enjoy reading your wonderful descriptions - thanks

Anonymous said...

love it lady! i cant wait to come and share the experiences.

Esther Megill said...

This is an interesting description of a great event. But I would like to correct a statement you made--that the school was started by the Methodist Church. This is not true. It was the women of the United Brethren in Christ Church who originally raised money for the school. In 1968 the E.U.B. church joined with the Methodist Church (in the U.S.A.) to form The United Methodist Church. In Sierra Leone if you say "Methodist," I am sure they think of the Methodist Church which was founded by the British. There is also a United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone, which began as the Evangelical United Brethren Church.
--Esther Megill, former missionary in Sierra Leone of the E.U.B. Church.