Literary Zone

Sierra Leone produces another author

27 February 2009 at 09:09 | 738 views

By Alhaji Jalloh - New Jersey -USA.

A descendant of the northern strategic border district of Kambia has added to the list of Kolenten Authors in Sierra Leone.

Dr. Alhaji Hamid Charm(photo) whose book " It took a broken leg " is expected to come out soon will join other authors from that part of the country, : Mr. Nabie Yaya Swaray, Dr Ahmed S. Bangura, Dr. Francis I. Dumbuya and Chairman Hassan Baraka.

Hamid Charm’s It took a broken leg , is an autobiographical novel set in the fictional land of Romron. Romron is the fictional equivalent of Sierra Leone, a tiny country on the West coast of Africa. The novel follows the life and fortunes of Mawudor, a young, brilliant, and talented boy born to an ultraconservative Muslim father, Mordibor. Mawudor was born at a time when western education was making headway into the town of Dubayabia. A Tukulor and devoted Muslim, Mordibor had serious concerns about western education as well as traditional African practices such as secret societies . He did not want his sons to be ‘infested’ with the baneful influence of either western culture or African secret societies. For Mordibor, western education meant the dissolution of the Tukulor culture and language. Mawudor, the novel’s protagonist, is caught between his yearning for western education and his father’s fierce opposition to it.

The novel explores the immense struggles, aspirations, and fears of both individuals and community when cultures come in contact. It examines the nature and texture of the relationship between Islam and traditional African religion/practices, and between western education and African cultural practices. This novel advances the view that cultural mutual respect is the healthy way to cultural co-existence. It is in defense of an authentic African cultural identity existing side by side other cultures without being denigrated. Thus, although Mawudor “...adored the new school and Mr. Pooley, its headmaster, he didn’t want the villagers to hastily abandon kabuku and his grandma’s healing craft.” Kabuku and the grandma’s healing craft represent aspects of the epistemological framework upon which traditional African society is anchored. Pa Ruma’s account of the heroic struggles of the ancestors and their medical knowledge is testimony to the importance of preserving the culture. The torching of the shrine at Royanka is a symbolic act of razing the African cultural edifice, signaling a brutal clash between Islam and traditional African culture. Besides the main theme, this novel encompasses several minor themes such as the role of African communalism in raising the child, medical knowledge and its custodians, the importance of honesty.

The language of the novel is accessible, and the diction, effective. The reader is taken through a conducted tour of the protagonist’s mind via the medium of monologue. Symbolism is used profusely in this novel and it helps to advance the story. The author also creatively uses onomastics to enhance both the major and minor themes. He uses names like Lormtamu and Kar’ayaymu to convey subtle messages to the keen reader. The human tendency to discuss others and their affairs is hinted at in the name, Lormtamu , which urges the individual to talk only about his or her own affairs and not about others’. The tendency to rush and grab is hinted at in the name, Kar’ayaymu , which urges humans to be patient, to work steadily and honestly, and wait for God’s or society’s reward.

Dr. Alhaji Hamid Charm was born July 20, 1945 in Kambia Town in Sierra Leone. After successfully completing his Elementary and Secondary education in Kambia, he gained admission to Njala University College in 1967. Upon graduating in June 1971, Dr. Charm took a teaching appointment at his Alma Mater, Kolenten Secondary School Kambia where he taught Geography, English Language, Literature in English, and also formed the school’s first drama group, the Kolenten Drama Group that staged his popularly acclaimed play, Dance of the Witches a social satire. In October 1974, Dr. Charm left Kolenten and took up appointment as Principal of the National Commercial Secondary School in Magburaka in Sierra Leone.

In January 1980, Dr. Charm proceeded to the United States of America under the African Graduate Fellowship Program, AFGRAD to do the Master of Science degree in Education at the University of Rochester in New York. He returned to Sierra Leone upon completing his program in June 1981 and took up appointment in the Ministry of Education in Freetown as a guidance and counseling officer. While at the Ministry, Dr. Charm was seconded to the Milton Margai Teachers College at Goderich near Freetown for two years as Senior Assistant Registrar. He reverted to his position at the Ministry of Education and was promoted Inspector of Secondary Schools in 1987. That same year, Dr. Charm was again admitted at the University of Rochester in New York under an AFGRAD Fellowship to do the Doctorate Degree in Education. Upon graduating, he took up a counseling position in the Rochester City School District in 1993.
Dr. Charm and his family now live in Rochester New York where he works.

Read full text of an exclusive interview with Dr. Charm soon.