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Russell, Sierra Leone

Who we are

We busy ourselves with woodcutting, coal burning, basket weaving, farming, selling mangoes and cassava and coal – and also making rum. We are predominantly Loko and also Temne, Limba, Mende and Creole. In the past we supported ourselves as farmers farming.  We are close to the sea, but not on the sea. And we have a large area of land for farming – which is worth the trip to see.

History

Russell is named after a British white man named Pa Russell (though some accounts state that he was a black man and a former slave). Whichever story is true, we know that he lived, died and was buried here (you can visit his grave in our cemetery).  Before the time of Pa Russell, the area was populated by Loko people.  They arrived here from upland Sierra Leone, as refugees from a war with the Temne in the 1800s. They were farmers and fishers. To this day Russell is divided into “Upper Loko” and “Lower Loko.”

We’re the second village (after Waterloo) to have a police station – and prior to Independence we had our own bus station. We are predominantly farmers and we still do farming activities – however, those of us who are farming face the challenges caused by coal production and wood cutting – which some of us believe makes our land less fertile and causes erosion into our farmland.

Our heroes: Mr Mills was instrumental in bringing a water supply to our village. He also built a well and encouraged our youth to look for work outside of the village. Mr Lakan, our former headman, is someone we admire for his kindness. He used to give gifts to our children and made their education a priority. He was friendly to everyone. He encouraged our youth to keep our streets clean. And he was handsome to boot!  James Bangura is also local hero. He was a great hunter and used to protect our village from wild animals. James is still living in our community – ask him about his hunting skills and ask him to tell you a story (he’s also one of our best storytellers).

Current Attractions

Come for a walk through our gardens and buy mangoes, cassava, plassas (green leafy vegetables that we use in sauces over rice) and coconuts. If you want something beautiful to take home, we make and sell mats as well. Ask us to weave one for you.

Join us for Easter, when we do Hunting society cultural activities. We do devil dances for onlookers, play in the village square, beat drums and to a village masquerade!

There is quite a list of things to see and do in Russell! Come see our rum distillery (and have some rum if you’d like), see our school, our beach, our police station, our historical wooden and stone houses from the colonial era, our cemetery and our school. Before the war, we were a popular tourist destination; tourists used to visit us to meander through the village and look at our historical buildings and then settle on the beach. We hope you have enthusiasm to do the same thing!  Ask us to take you for a walk along the Yawri Bay, through the forest and around some of our historical sites.

Potential Attractions

We’re interested in doing farm-stays! We’d like to improve on our gardening activities as a source of income and like the idea of working with tourists to help us plant Sierra Leonean vegetables.

Some of us are interested in setting up a wood carving centre.

When we dream large, we envision setting up a sea transport business and a hotel.  On a smaller scale, we’d like to improve our nature trails!

Some of us are interested in setting up an entertainment centre.

Community Needs

We’d like to plant more fruits in our community.
We want to make sure that our children are still learning about our culture.
We want to be able to protect our forest and our flowers and would like to see our community actively involved in forest protection.
Would like to make sure that some of our historical buildings are protected, such as our church and some of our other historical sites (which are now in disrepair).
We don’t have a clinic and would like to see improvements to both our health and our healthcare.
We are lacking a good water supply and have an unfinished well. We are constantly strained by our lack of access to good drinking water.
We would really like to see some new job opportunities for people in Russell. Poverty has made us less united than we would like to be! We used to have better village accountability and we wish we still did.
Some of us think that having a poultry or piggery would be a good idea.
We would like to improve on our agricultural activities
Some of us are interested in building a technical institute.
We would love to have better roads!
We would really like to see our houses be in better shape!
We’d like to have a market.
We would love to have electricity
We would like to have a community centre.

We would like to see our youth involved in projects.

Contact us

(As of 2012) Headman: Mr Olu John (076 605 894 and 033 605 894); Chairlady: Yeanoh Kamara; Chairman: Charlie M Sabarah (076 201 836); Secretary: Prince McCauley; Youth Leader: Charles Gordon.

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russell sierra leone preparing plassas

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