The Sierra Leone Web

  Mark T. Jones is a British citizen with a passion for Sierra Leone - perhaps because William Wilberforce is one of his heroes. He spent part of 2000 in Sierra Leone as a "one-man humanitarian mission".  


Sons of the Cotton Tree

Manly frames in rugged grandeur
Lofty visions of conquests new
Dreams of lust, love and football
Bodies etched against the cobalt blue.

Your spreading arbors afford them shelter
An exclusive club for men for sure
Wheels essential, legs an option
Gathering place of hopes and more.

All those hopes and all that promise
Extinguished, dashed and brought to earth
Legs laid waste through their misfortune
Yet your children are of noble birth.

Enrobe them in your leafy mantle
Strew their path with cloth of gold
In human frame, but of godly stature
Wasted men, ride out, be brave! be bold!

What polio has wrought mankind can mend
Open hearts heal twisted limbs
Yet to you they will always return for succour
To give praise and thanks in raucous hymns.



Swaying frondes beckon
Agile men ascend to steal your sustaining source
Let nature through fermentation take its revenge
Your milky sap saps and turns heads soft.
Soon mortal thieves sway frond like and beckon
Agile men to take them to their rest.


Memories of the Train to Port Loko

Rain soaked canopies dip their leaves
Pistons thrust propelling commerce and dreamers deeper
A verdant land opens in luxuriant welcome
Union awaits, along with its fecundant pleasures.



"The Minister will see you now."
I stand endeavouring to look taller
Hat firmly clasped, heat resisted.
God - I hate these meetings.

Tawdry furnishings and even cheaper words
Our dignity must be maintained
He must be appeased, his ego massaged
A malodorous minister must be seen to glow.

His bull-necked toadies sit in ill-fitting suits
Pens recording every nuance, each hollow gesture
Whilst in the real world the people strive to live
Their lives choked by the rancid fumes of protocol.


Kingharman Road Girl

Fly-blown hopes lie caressing the curb
Her sores a nations stigmata.
Would a dog lick thy wounds ?
Or skirt round you like the tide of your brothers and sisters.

If we could pause but for a moment and prise open your mind
We too would seek safety in cold stone
Stone far more loving than human hearts
Judgement passed, we walk on blind, sightless, caring not.


On the Prospect of King Jimmy Market

Now this is real aromatherapy
Kerosene, ginger, soap and lime
The setting stimulates the senses
A riot of human life, lives and more
Busy about the act of living, hungry yet seemingly contented.

If you are into active relaxation
Sit and watch these people work
Breathe in the breezes from the ocean
And the warm satisfying smell of humanity
Of people who cannot afford the luxury of being self obsessed.


The Camp - Sierra Leone 2000

Did Peter Brueghel paint here?
Bestumped innocence sears my sight
How many tears could wash away such a sight?
Time affords us no such quantity.

Satan's flail has done its work
Limbs harvested and yet unused
Shattered lives as broken columns stand mute
A world unseen, some unseeing.

Did Hieronymous Bosch paint this ?
He surely saw it - a living charnel house writ large
Minds dislocated in the name of some perverted peace
Such a canvas leaves one dumb.

What God has given man has taken
A blasphemy of slash and burn
Pax Africa upon the altar
Seemingly little resurrectional hope for thee.

Did Salvador Dali paint here ?
He must have dreamt it - this fiendish site
Manmade, contorted out of shape and hate
These open wounds framed in guilt.



Where once people sang now initials stalk
Acronyms and their attendants decide our fate
Good, bad, near unfathomable
These our servants now roam free, breeding unchecked.

RUF, SLA, AK47, no music in such sounds
Do you put your trust in ECOMOG or UNAMSIL ?
Is the NCRRR or the UNHCR the real route to salvation ?
Far better that you stop and put your faith in GOD.


Ode to an Unworthy Suitor

Gem like, you might just as well be a diadem, you bejewel her ebony neck, her brow, her breasts. I envy the way that you anoint her like Holy oil or a baptismal cross. Glistening, certain of your place of honour, an imposter where my lips should be. My fingers would gladly pay her tribute, my heart open up for her to see, but you, oh beads of perspiration, you got there first and now look at me.


Birth - Brookfield Stadium - 24th April 1961

Your rushed conception not an act of love, but of duty
Preparations hurried, rushed and often unseemly
By the book, yet the ink of such a book still wet.

The swelling in thy womb enlarged by hope and expectation
A birth urged on, induced by the winds of change
The world ready to suckle you on high ideals and harsh realities

The delivery a public event, bunting and photographs
A ceremonial sword to sever your umbilical chord
All smiles, flags lowered and raised, silver and gold braide

Your heralded welcome soon clouded by those prepared to sell your soul
Not just your soul, but that of future generations
Independence proving as bitter as slavery. Liberty soon lost its sweetness.

Yet within you the spirit still lives, a Salonean renaissance
The desire to reclaim those dreams and make them a reality
Relive that dream, begin by rooting out corruption in high place.