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Sierra Leone News: Firsthand fieldtrip to Bunce Island

Over the weekend, the Monument and Relics Commission (MRC) took pupils of the Saint Edwards Secondary School Heritage Club, in Kingtom, to Bunce Island, to have a firsthand experience of the Island. Bunce Island is a slave castle located in the Sierra Leone River. It is situated in the Freetown Harbour, the estuary of the Rokel River and Port Loko Creek, about 32 kilometres upriver from Sierra Leone’s capital city, Freetown.
Bunce Island was a commercial fort operated by European merchants during the period of the Atlantic slave trade and was tagged, “a warehouse of humanity.” The ruins were built by a British slave-trading company in 1670 and tens of thousands of Africans were shipped from there to the North American colonies of South Carolina and Georgia to be forced into slavery.
The Research and Development Officer at MRC, Francis Musa Momoh, explained the nature of the island and why the island gained prominence amongst the other islands in the country. He mentioned, “There were about 60 major slave forts located along the 2,000 miles of coastline stretching from Mauritania in the North and Benin in the South.”
Momoh underscored that the early period of slavery started in 1728 and eventually came to an end in 1807 and during that era, 50,000 Africans were exiled to slavery. Among the areas in the castle he showed the pupils is the original jetty, the trading area, the Europeans and Africans graves and the 18th Century fortified castle.
According to James Williams, one of the pupils in the Saint Edwards Heritage Club, “I have learned a lot today about Bunce Island. It is very good for you to come and see, and by so doing, one can learn at a faster rate.” He pointed out that learning should not only be limited to the classroom but also through fieldtrips and adventures.
Lansana, another pupil, said, “With this trip, I have a clear understanding about the significance of Bunce Island and the issue of the slave trade.” He noted that they can pass on such knowledge acquired at the island to the rest of their colleagues, who failed to make the trip.
The Education and Outreach Officer MRU, Mohamed Faray Kargbo, said the trips are part of their outreach component under a project titled, “the Ambassador and Cultural Fund for Cultural Preservations”.
Kargbo said Saint Edwards is the fourth secondary school to have visited the island, joining Ahmadiya, Henry Fergusson and Bishop Johnson. He averred that the children are the future leaders, and they must have a clear understand of the island in order for them also to pass on the historic message to their children yet unborn.
By Mohamed J. Bah
Tuesday June 26, 2018.

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