For decades, the people of Kabala have celebrated New Years in a very unique way. To them, the New Year is a way of bringing together the different chiefdoms and tribes in the region to showcase their traditions and culture. This is often accompanied with magical displays of the arts, the wearing of traditional dresses (which are no longer used daily but are known to have some significance in the region), other stunning symbolic performances, and finally an outing to the top of the tallest mountain in the region.
The five day event takes place annually from December 28th to January 1st. Originally the festival only included inhabitants of Kabala and its surrounding territory, but today it has grown to a national event, and has been hosted by almost every ruling president in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leoneans from the Diaspora and tourists from around the world come to Sierra Leone to grace the occasion. From December 28th to the 31st, local tribesmen, paramount chiefs, magicians will all gather in an open field (mostly used as a football field) to showcase some of Sierra Leone’s oldest traditions and way of life. This often includes showcasing some of the cloths and garments worn by earlier and current paramount chiefs and local chiefs which have lasted for over 500 years. Some of these garments are believed to have magical powers which protect the wearer from evil spirits and enables them to disappear during an encounter with any evil force.
Each year on the 1st of January, both local and visiting participants will make the long journey to the top of the mountain for a whole day outing. The mountain top is a flat land about the size of a football field. From the mountain, there is a magnificent view of Kabala city and a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. Numerous other activities take place throughout the event, including dance, fashion, and magic performances.
We are thrilled to have Jaime Yaya Barry as a contributing author for XplorMor. He is currently based in Sierra Leone, reporting on the country’s cultural identity and happenings.