The incredible journey of Augustine Kanjia continues … My School of Hard Knocks

Mr. Gabriel Amara, the kind principal I’d met at Christ the King College secondary school in Bo, was now the head of Yengema Secondary School, another of Sierra Leone’s top Catholic schools.

Augustine Kanjia

Though he had encouraged me to end my school-search odyssey by applying to the Yengema school, he decided now that there was no space for me — I was too late. I could have attended Christ the King if my mother and stepfather were still living in Bo, but he had been transferred to the Port Loko police.

I looked around the compound and saw some of the friends I’d played soccer with back at the Motema elementary school. Well, God knew I had tried to find myself a school. I felt this was only the beginning of my manhood. The path would be longer, but it was clear. A letter and my entrance exam results were sent to the principal at Sewafe Secondary School.

I’d already been to Bo, Daru and Segbwema. Sewafe was another diamond-mining town in the Eastern Province. The principal was the Rev. Austin Healy.

When everyone had entered their classrooms, I quickly walked out of the door to zoom home to Motema again. Our new family home was near completion. Our illicit brewing of “Omolé” persisted because the house was very large and still needed more work.

That morning, I left with the intention that I would stay in school all day. I was wrong. I did not have the school uniform, nor did I have the admission. I returned to Motema in tears. A lot worked on my mind. It was all geared toward my return to school. It was hard for me. My grandmother was waiting for good news.

Augustine’s last chapter: Will My School Dreams Become a Nightmare?  Or scroll down to catch up on earlier posts in the remarkable tale.

The incredible journey of Augustine Kanjia continues … Will My School Dreams Become a Nightmare?

All my classmates in Motema, and even in Daru, had secured placement for their next school year, but I remained locked in battle with what was next on my agenda at home.

Augustine Kanjia

My brother’s friends were all astonished at my excellent school exam results, but none of them could help me gain acceptance to a good school. Maybe they could help me get to Bo, where the school officials from Segbwema suggested I should go for high school because my mom and step-dad lived there.

I did all my brother Duran’s domestic work for him. He was not married, and lived alone before convincing my grandmother I should move to Daru and attend the nearby secondary school. He was always ready to flog me for simple mistakes. I was only 12, but he expected me to behave like a mature man.

I decided to walk to freedom one day, just five days after my interview at the Wesley Secondary School. I went to the military barracks junction looking for any military personnel going to Freetown — Bo, in the center of the country, was on the way. A truck was going by at11 a.m.

My brother had gone to work at the barracks by 8 a.m. and he’d asked me to bring his lunch by noon. I had spoken with Mr. Lahai, his bingo comrade. He gave me the hint about the 11 a.m. truck. I took Duran’s food to him and I sat a little. He blasted me for bringing his food early. He asked me to go back home and wash his uniforms. “Yes, sir!” I said, and ran out quickly.

I pretended I was heading home. He looked toward the back of his office to watch me go by. My direction quickly changed, and soon I was in the military truck ready to set off. It was 11. We left and I looked back at the barracks and River Moa. I said I will never return there. But was it true?

Augustine’s last chapter: Beyond My Limit  Or scroll down to catch up on earlier posts in the remarkable tale.

The incredible journey of Augustine Kanjia continues … Beyond My Limit

I had only one pair of short pants, with two visible holes in the back.

Augustine Kanjia

They were overused, but I needed to dress up that morning. It was a Monday. My brother would not help me buy secondhand clothes, he rather gave me his big, old long-sleeved shirt — too big for a small boy like me. I was 12 years old then.

I tried to not worry about these superficial problems, because my grandmother had told me to be patient. “Your day will come,” Sobba Peppeh would tell me. She would give me examples of those who have succeeded and how they fared when small. Jesus was her biggest example for me to copy.

My brother did not bother worrying about my success; for him it was mine alone. He never asked about the marks I had scored in the test that had brought me here in the first place.

Augustine’s last chapter: A Good Result Leaves Me in Tears  Or scroll down to catch up on earlier posts in the remarkable tale

Charlie Baker

Worcester Sun, Aug. 16: Officials plan for Saturday ‘free speech’ rally, when will see say, ‘enough’? + Hitch, most popular & more

In wake of Virginia violence, officials leery of Saturday “free speech” rally [with video] | With an event billed as a “free speech” rally planned for Boston Common on Saturday, state and Boston officials discussed safety and logistical concerns. Meanwhile, the group organizing the rally, Boston Free Speech, wrote, “While we maintain that every individual is entitled to their freedom of speech and defend that basic human right, we will not be offering our platform to racism or bigotry. We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence.”

Editorial: When will we say, ‘Enough!’ ? | Displays of brash, extreme hate and violence are the opposite of the America the vast majority of us believe in. But instances have been on the uptick.

Augustine Kanjia’s incredible journey continues … A Good Result That Left Me in Tears

Our test results were around the corner. Life was still difficult at home.

It felt like there was no way out.

Augustine Kanjia

My grandmother still did not have a regular job, but she continued selling her food stuff. Many had called her by her nickname, “Soba Peppeh,” meaning the real pepper in the Creole parlance of Sierra Leone.

My garden work with Soba Peppeh had increased as her sales at the market doubled. I would cook for the house when the market occupied her. Mondays were very busy days for me. Fridays were for the market, too. My grandmother prepared more food and brought raw cassava, potatoes and their leaves. Boiled cassava and beans were on the side for sale.

Of course, we did not relent on the “Omolé” trade. Its money was coming in fast.

Soba Peppeh was versatile.

We did all these things, but always had time for prayer. I rejoiced when it was Sunday. Her church, the UMC church, depended on me for its bell. I would ring it before leaving for my own Roman Catholic church at my primary school, R.C. Motema. There was enough prayer for me in my grandmother’s church to help me pass my exam — but not to pay my upcoming high school fees.

Augustine’s last chapter: Another Lesson in Perseverance  Or scroll down to catch up on earlier posts in the remarkable tale

Worcester Sun, Aug. 13-19: Mariano on the battle for District 4, an artist’s ritual, solving the Alzheimer’s puzzle + more

Sun columnist
Mariano: Gaffney vs. Rivera — the battle for District 4

Get your lawn chairs out and bring the popcorn. This campaign could be a real barnburner. More Mariano on Worcester politics:

Breaking down candidates in District 1 | District 5
Why no one wants to run for public office

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 188]: Beetles, barely — and other rare Worcester species

News came earlier this month that the once pervasive Asian longhorned beetle has all but disappeared from the Burncoat-area neighborhoods they once ravaged.