Obscure and unsung village is ancestral home of late President Siaka Stevens
Discover Sierra Leone
Most ancestral villages of a president or political leader
in many parts of the world have something to set them apart from other
Yamoussoukro, Cote D'Ivoire, hometown of Félix Houphouët-Boigny has
the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace. Yoni, home village President Ernest Bai
Koroma has a university and a new road.
Not so Kabassa village. Deep in Tonko Limba
territory, the ancestral village of Siaka Stevens, the man who dominated Sierra
Leonean politics as prime minister and president for decades remains obscure,
unsung and unrecognized. Not even a sign at the entrance to the village lets
visitors know of its significance as the ancestral home of President Stevens.
Most Sierra Leoneans will recognize the name because
Kabassa Lodge, one of the most luxurious and infamous mansions in Sierra Leone built
by President Stevens and once lived in by Capt. Valentine Strasser, leader of
the National Provisional Ruling Council, is named after the village.
Situated on the dirt road between Madina and the Great
Scarcies River, Kabassa ( more photos at my (Hadi Bah) Facebook page) is as plain as any other village in that part of Sierra
Leone. Surrounded by mango and coconut trees, the houses are a mixture of mud
and grass thatch and mud block and zinc roof. A roundabout near two signs
comprises downtown Kabassa.
Near the roundabout next to a hut stands a half
painted house with a rusty zinc roof which villagers pointed out was the familial
home of President Stevens. According to the same villagers, one of the former
president's sons, a high official in the current government is a frequent
visitor to the area.
Siaka Stevens who liked to drop hints that he belonged to all tribes and
regions of Sierra Leone was born in Moyamba and culturally, was a Mende, the
dominant ethnic group in that part of Sierra Leone. Yet, when it came time to divorce
himself from the Sierra Leone People's Party and his pals the Margai brothers,
he niftily returned to his Limba and northern roots.
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