01 Apr 2019

Nawa oh! A week on atlantic ocean in Sierra Leone.

I suppose should have met President Bio...🤦‍ By Henry Wandera

I wan chop, oya make we go shayo, ah go tell you wétin dey😊. I see you’re wondering what’s this ‘ill-written’ english version! It is called Krio/Pidgin - an english based creole language and Sierra Leone’s lingua franca. Krio was developed to aid communication among people from different parts of Sierra Leone, as well as between locals and Europeans. This was the language I was welcomed with when I landed in this beautiful country found on the atlantic ocean in West Africa. Nawa oh! means wow! And “I wan chop, oya make we go shayo, ah go tell you wétin dey” - I was telling you that am hungry, hurry up let’s grab a drink and I tell you what’s going on. I was very happy to learn some phrases and I will teach you more as we continue because they helped me keep up with the pace at the workshop. Workshop? Yes, I had visited to participate in a data science workshop that was organised by the Directorate of Science Technology and Innovation (DSTI) at the Office of the President (State House) in Freetown - a port city and the capital of Sierra Leone. “E go better na e go better, na im make ibo man still dey Kano.” The loose translation for this pidgin proverb is “when there is hope, there is life”. This journey added value to my life as I have always wanted to travel and learn. It was a great pleasure to “baff up” - dress nicely every morning and go to write Python machine learning code from the State House. I suppose I should have met His excellency President Julius Maada Bio for a cup of coffee or inspiration. I should have informed him about how I was part of the DSTI team that was using data science, machine learning and new computational techniques to better inform and improve the Free Quality Education Programme (FQEP) in Sierra Leone. Next time. Thanks to MasterCard Scholars Foundation, Vukosi Marivate and David Moinina Sengeh for supporting my travel experience. I missed going to their best beaches after work, but I enjoyed playing a guitar while looking at the mountains surrounding us and the beautiful ocean sunsets. These moments enhanced my feeling of well-being… can’t wait to go back. I was deeply humbled by ubuntu. People are social and live collectively in interacting populations. They sell cheap and good African products in their markets. If a trader gives you a ridiculous price, you can respond by exclaiming, “E too cost abeg” which means too expensive. I learnt pidgin in one week… try your luck😊