Our Creole Ancestry - Sierra Leone
Telling stories about our ancestors has been an essential part of our human nature. Ever since we had a spoken language, we have shared stories. An important story that we tell, is the history of our evolution. We discuss this, so we know where it is that we come from and how we are connected to the earth, its history, and other species.
As we evolved, we shared stories to pass on knowledge which taught the children of the tribe how to stay safe. For example, a story may be told about ‘Don’t go down by the river because there are crocodiles, so they told a story about that uncle who did and got eaten by a crocodile’. As time went on, we’ve moved forward to telling stories of adventures. Stories of our ancestors and their relations with other people.
As a family, we keep learning more about our Krio ancestry and seek to preserve the culture as the elders cross over the river. The history of the Krios has been overlooked somewhat in the writings about the slave trade and also British history.
However, the Krios of Sierra Leone historic links to Britain began with Britain’s involvement in the slave trade. Different groups of people make up the Krios – the ‘Black Poor’ from Britain, the Nova Scotians – ‘Black Loyalists’ who had fought for the British in the American Revolution, the ‘Maroons’ from Jamaica who demonstrated successful black resistance to slavery and ‘Liberated Africans’ who were rescued from slave ships on the high seas and brought to Sierra Leone.
The Krio culture is a rich concoction of different influences, melded by the struggles and sufferings they must have endured. All of these people sought freedom, in Freetown, Sierra Leone and somehow made it work. Perhaps, this is one of their greatest legacies. The Christian values and the reverence for higher education, are also part of this Krio culture. The latter is unsurprising given their fight for liberation and equality.
“Until the lion learns to write, every story will glorify the hunter”. Most of our ancestors’ tales are lost to dust, the ocean, and the wind. In writing about our history, we can influence the narrative and be proud of our heritage, we can do our bit to make sure it is not forgotten. In these modern times, we can also take strength and hope from our ancestors’ stories.
It is a bittersweet kola nut to chew, sitting in London now, looking at the waters of the East London Docks, and writing this. Almost, as if things have come full circle but in exploring our past, we can have a better sense of where we are going.