For some of us Oku people of Fourah Bay, a neighborhood located in the east end of Freetown, we find it challenging to accept couples in intimate relationships before marriage. It is considered a taboo, comparable to drinking rum, using psychedelic drugs, or seeing an Imam dancing to the sounds of the talking drums of the Ogougou and Ahgudah secret societies. As such, couples found courtship before marriage shameful, forcing many to find other means of communication.
However, one couple, Fatu Big Wes, a fair-complexion woman of 25, and Sorie Ahramu, a man with sun-drenched brown skin turning 27, devised a cunning way to talk to each other. Fatu’s prominent buttocks charmed Sorie. His desire to possess Fatu had become so unbearable that he could hardly take his eyes off her, especially in the light of threats from other suitors.
It happened that Sorie worked in the same Sierra Leone Railway office as Fatu Big Wes’s father, Musa Kalamula. Both men were clerks. Fatu, who was also madly in love with Sorie, told him to put his letters inside her father’s hat whenever he left it unattended. Sorie graciously agreed.
So, any time Musa left his hat hanging on the office’s hat rack, Sorie, mesmerized by his love for Fatu, would write a letter, spiced with flowery language, and tuck it inside the inner band of Musa’s hat. When the father got home, Fatu would retrieve the note. Then, she would read it, respond, and fold her reply into the hat for Musa to take to work the next day.
For months, Musa became the unwitting mail carrier for the two lovers. As fate would have it, Musa was cleaning his hat one day when he found a letter. He was shocked to read of Sorie’s lustful intentions.
Considering our Oku people’s attitude to sexual intimacy before marriage, Musa summoned the elders of we Fourah Bay and requested a wedding between Fatu Big Wes and Sorie Ahramu.
Admin Note: The area between Patton Street and Savage Square is generally known as Kossoh Tong, with a sub-area tucked between Easton Street and Savage Square known as Krojimi. Of course, within Kossoh Tong itself, there were several Oku Krios—the Ghazalis, the Bakarrs, the Davieses, etc.—but the Frobay community was clustered between Savage Square and Kennedy Street.
Bakar Mansaray developed his love for writing at Freetown’s Albert Academy, a school known for discipline. His inspiration for this piece came from such a disciplinary background where taboos were taken seriously, flogging exorcised demons, and wisdom instilled into the minds of students.