The craftsmanship flaunts the innate creativity in Sierra Leoneans to produce innovative products with simple, effective technology and tools that are heavily reliant on local materials and resources. Boat makers’ contribution is immense to the day-to-day lives of all living in the country.
It solves a critical gap in not only the transport sector but also, in the fishing and sand mining sectors which in turn provides job creation possibilities and employment opportunities, and income generation. Dating to the times of Noah or even way before that, boats have helped man conquer rivers, seas, land, and evidence shows that they will continue serving humans for ages to come.
Mohamad Sankoh and his son, the only boatmakers in Matenke village revealed to the VAfrica team the process of boat making. It all begins in the forest where they hunt for that one tree that is mature and strong enough to bring out their mastery. When the timber has been moved to the location, they get onto carving and cutting out unwanted sections of the timber. In a couple of days, the boat takes shape. They mix petrol and polyethylene, carve small openings beneath the boat and shove the paste inside to prevent water from soaking into the wooden structure and sinking it.
As a source of employment, engagement as a means of livelihood, Sierra Leoneans are finding all possible avenues to make a difference in the lives of ordinary citizens. Some like Yabom(Yabom article link), have ventured into sand mining, while others use Mr. Sankoh’s handiwork to paddle the waters in search of fish. From the Mende who come from the East and South, the Temne from the central and northwest, Limba, Kuranko, Susu, Yalunka, and Loko from the north, the community is lively with activities to provide the day’s meal.
Special mention to the Assistant Director of Cultural Affairs, Sierra Leone, Mr. Ishmeal Abu Kamara. For providing writings, research and advise.