On the re-opening of SLPP Office … “We would never encourage violence” John Benjamin...

Sierra Leone News:CHETANYA’s View: Throughout the United States, the city of Seattle where

CHETANYA

CHETANYA

I’m from is probably best known for Starbucks, technology companies, the Space Needle, and most of all, rain. It doesn’t actually rain in Seattle as much as outsiders think. Mostly the climate is mild, with semi regular rain in the colder winter and autumn months. But like many reputations, this one is based on a kernel of truth.
I don’t think I ever experienced a city rainier than Seattle before I came to Freetown. I was expecting Freetown to be humid and hot, and so I was pleasantly surprised to experience so many cool and rainy days. I know the dry season is a different (less happy) story. I love rain, and I don’t know whether that’s a happy coincidence or the result of growing up in one of the wetter corners of the United States. As far as I’m concerned, a shower of rain always improves the day’s weather.
But living in Freetown, I’m more grateful to my umbrella every day than I’ve ever been. The rain in Freetown is nothing like in Seattle. This makes sense, since Sierra Leone is a tropical monsoon country not far from the equator, and Seattle is temperate northern country on the same latitude as France. As Sierra Leoneans tell me, and as I’ve seen for myself, the rain tends to pour down in bursts here, as though the heavens periodically break out in temper tantrums. Rainfall in Freetown is merciless  in less than a minute, it can make staying out in the open the choice of a madman. On an especially rainy day, deep, wide streams appear in the streets out of nowhere. The deep gutters, which on most days are empty trenches I try not to fall into, perform their essential civic service.
The rain makes a loud pattering sound as it falls on Freetown’s many metal-roofed houses. I’ve always found the sound of rain comforting  I have no idea why — and this is no exception.
Of course I know the rain isn’t always benign for Freetown residents. I’ve been learning that deforestation in the hills above the city causes the rain erode the slopes, bringing flood waters to vulnerable areas like the city slums. In places like Kroo Bay slum, these floods have destroyed valuable property, driven people from their homes, and tragically, killed some people.
Of course it’s not the rain itself that’s to blame, since it’s unavoidable here. Instead it’s a dysfunctional combination of destruction of forest habitat that would hold the rains in check, marginalized people who can only afford shoddily constructed houses, and poor disaster management. And of course, there’s global climate change, which tampers with the normal rules of climate and weather like a capricious God.
Sometimes the rain tricks me into thinking I’m in a similar climate as Seattle. But even when the sky is ashy white and filled with black rainclouds that drift around ominously, I sometimes found myself sweating, sometimes a lot, sometimes just slightly. The air here is more humid and sticky than I’m used to. On the rare occasions when the hot sun comes out, I’m reminded that I’m near the equator. But for most of my stay in the rainy season, the weather here has been comforting.
As I write this, there’s a thick curtain of rain outside the windows, and the sky is white. As much as I like the rain, I admire Sierra Leoneans for coping with such extremes year after year. I love rain, but I know loving rain is only possible if you can find a way to keep dry.
*Chetanya Robinson is a journalism intern from the University of Washington in Seattle. He is the 7th intern in as many years in an internship program with Awoko Newspaper
Tuesday August 16, 2016

Comments are closed.