Wordcatcher Tales: Brown brown, Poda poda, Upline

Among the more interesting words of Sierra Leone Krio that I learned from reading A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), were the following.

I took turns at the guarding posts around the village, smoking marijuana and sniffing brown brown, cocaine mixed with gunpowder, which was always spread out on the table, and of course taking more of the white capsules, as I had become addicted to them. [p. 121]

Where was I from? What was it like growing up upline? Upline is a Krio word mostly used in Freetown to refer to the backwardness of the inner country, its inhabitants, and their mannerisms. [p. 184]

The call for prayer from the central mosque echoed throughout the city, poda podas crowded the streets, their apprentices hanging on the open passenger doors and calling out the names of their destinations: “Lumley, Lumley” or “Congo Town …”. [p. 190]

Most reviewers gush over the book, as a story that needs to be told, no matter how embellished it may have been.

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Filed under anglosphere, language, Sierra Leone

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