On a street corner in downtown Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital city, 12-year-old Kaita sits with a friend on a peeling steel railing watching the headlights of motorbikes cruising through the otherwise silent streets. It is after midnight, and motionless human forms lie curled up in doorways or stretched out on pavements nearby. For Kaita, these streets are home, and have been for almost six years.
On the fourth floor of a new office block in western Freetown, Cecil Williams sits beneath posters of idyllic tropical landscapes as he discusses the many natural attractions that once brought tourists flocking to the small West African nation of Sierra Leone.
In the village of Makonkonde in western Sierra Leone, Mabinti, who no longer knows her age, sits on a low wooden stool in the dappled shade of several palm trees. She clutches a solitary papaya fruit in hands toughened by a lifetime of hard manual work.
On a steamy, starless night in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, a teenager runs desperately down a potholed street before being violently brought to the ground by a bystander. As word spreads that a thief has been caught, young men come running from all directions.
The air is heavy with the smell of marijuana as Gibrilla (23) expertly rolls a large joint at the Members of Blood (M.O.B) gang base in a poor neighbourhood of Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown.