Pa Nabie spends time with his friend Henrietta after leaving Sunday morning church service. She finishes cooking lunch and begins to dish the food into separate containers for different family members. Pa Nabie accepts an invitation to eat, taking a plate and spoon to serve rice and peanut soup for himself. After eating his fill and drinking water, he sits under a tree to share his story. He speaks of his journey from village to town, his work experience, and his hope for the future. A special thank you to Henrietta for her help and patience while interpreting Pa Nabie’s story from Mende to Krio.

Pa Nabie's Story

I was born in Mano, a village near the Sewa River. Even today I don’t know my exact age since no official record exists. I can understand some Krio but never learned to speak it since nobody could teach me in my village. My parents died when I was very young so I had to stay in Mano for some time with other family members.

A man by the name of Mr. Forbie frequently visited Mano—he’d stroll around and loved greeting everybody. We met during one of his strolls. He told me about his work as a tailor and that he sews uniforms for government workers. He also told me about his trips into town to observe cases being tried in the court. I enjoyed listening to his stories.

One day, around my twenties, I visited Mr. Forbie’s village to ask him a question. I remembered his stories about the nearby town so I begged him to help me find work there. We discussed options and he told me about a job opportunity for the government. He took me on his next trip and arranged everything for me. 

I worked in town as an agriculturalist for the next 25 years. My colleagues and I planted various trees, peanuts, corn, and other crops. The work presented difficulties since we mostly used our hands and small tools. We made very long rows and tall heaps of earth to grow many potatoes. We also cleared big plots of land with machetes to dig long trenches for cassava planting. One day I injured my foot during the work and it swelled to a large size. I didn’t have enough money for the hospital so one of my friends in town helped me, Mr. Lahai. My foot finally ruptured on the sole and so much pus came out!

At one point the government gave us a tractor, our only machine, to carry us and our tools into the bush. After the day’s work we rode back to the government office feeling very tired. They didn’t provide us with places to sleep so I rented a home. Near my retirement, I used all of my savings to buy my own land on the outskirts of town near the radio station. I hope to build a house there in the future.

My good friend Mr. Lahai offered me work after I retired from the government. He became principal at a secondary school and asked me to be head of security. I worked in this capacity before the civil war started and continue to do so today. I’ve worked with many principals and acting principals along the way. 

During the civil war, rebels entered the town but never entered the school grounds. Townspeople who ran from the rebels hid and lived at the school. Some of them felt uneasy about the school’s location next to the main road, so they fled further into the hills and caves nearby. The school fell into disrepair during the war because civilians would enter the school compound and vandalize some of the classrooms. Also the timber frames around the school rotted away because they were built from low quality wood.

I married my second wife Moina when she was in her mid-twenties and I was in my early forties. At the time I worked as security. We have two boys, Tommy and Musa, and one girl named after my mother, Lucy. I want success for my children. Let them grow and learn well. I want to give them the land I bought and hopefully a house on it soon. My neighbors have already built their homes around my land. I currently have zinc for roofing and nails for the house. In the future I hope to save enough money so I can begin making dirty blocks for the walls.