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Banana Island (Ricketts), Sierra Leone

Who we are

Ricketts may take a small effort to get to, but it’s worth it. Our village is located in one of the most beautiful places on earth. We’re part of the Banana Islands (comprised of Mes-Meheux, Dublin and Ricketts). You can reach us by boat – either by taking a boat to Dublin Island and walking the spectacular trail to us or by taking a boat directly to our village. We harvest sea cucumbers, we fish and we farm. We are predominantly Sherbro and Creole.

We’re islanders – and like islanders all over the world, we’re easy-going, friendly and hard working!

History

Ricketts is named after Major H. J. Ricketts who, after retiring from the army, worked in the Liberated African Department of Sierra Leone. He founded numerous villages for newly landed liberated Africans though he later fled Sierra Leone due to his unpopularity with the local population. The town Ricketts itself was founded in 1830 and by 1847 it had grown to  population of 300.

Current Attractions

If you’re looking for a storyteller, ask Samuel Godwin or Mathady Allen to spin you a tale.

We have carnival nights where the headman plays music all night. The majority of us can dance but we don’t have a dance troupe.

We have a guesthouse – a perfect one, in fact. It is furnished with plush couches and has four rooms, each with independent plumbing. When you get into town, find the headman to make arrangements to stay there. If you’re looking for a great carpenter, call Olu: 078 487 988 (check out his handiwork in the guesthouse, and be wowed).

Potential Attractions

We would love to see some of our old practices revived. For example, we used to have a lantern hanging from a lamppost with food to offer our fishermen at the end of the day. Not only would this be nice to revive for our community, but it would also be of interest to tourists. Wouldn’t you like to arrive to a shining lantern and a warm plate of food?

There is great potential for hiking trails on our Island. We also have a small island by the wharf that would make an excellent location for a guest house. The current guest house is owned by the headman, and setting up a community run guest house, in addition to the privately owned one on the island seems like a great idea to many of us!

We’d also like to collaborate with Dublin to set up a trail on the uninhabited Mes Meheux – which is basically teeming with wildlife.

Community Needs

Our greatest need is fresh drinking water. Right now we have to walk nearly two miles to get fresh water – and sometimes we have to wait until 2 in the morning for the well to fill up! There have been a few failed attempts to dig for water in the village (such as a well by the guest house that hit rock but not water!)  Several of us believe that we know where to dig for water (there are certain trees that grow over water). We would like to not only dig for water and have a well in the village, but we would also like to have a tank or a reservoir for water.

Our school is inadequate. Our children have to go to Freetown to get educated. This means that some of us can’t afford to send our children to school, and those of us who can, rarely get to see our children! It would be wonderful to have decent education on the Island (even if that meant improving things on Dublin – where there are only about 6 students right now because the standard of education is so poor!)

We do not have a health centre. Living in such a remote location without access to basic healthcare is dangerous!

We often feel forgotten by our government, unnoticed by NGOs and unseen by tourists!

How to Contact us

(As of 2011)Headman: David Jones; Chairlady: Osah During; Chairman: Johnny Anthony; Secretary: Alfred Allen; Youth Leader: Alfred Allen.

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