Far from Freetown & the tourist beaches of the peninsula, there exists another Sierra Leone. A Sierra Leone virtually unchanged over the centuries. With no running water, no electricity, no telephones, and little contact with the outside world, a Sierra Leone of subsistence farmers, traditional healers, secret societies, and ancient traditions.
Twenty miles and thirty minutes beyond Magburaka, deep in the heart of Sierra Leone, approached by a dirt track winding through palm trees and past fields of rice, sorghum, and maize, lies Rogbonko Mathaka – ‘The Place in the Forest.
The Rogbonko Village Retreat allows those seeking new experiences and adventures an insight into this other country. Sleeping in a traditional house, eating local food, and joining in with the everyday life of the village, they will gain a greater appreciation of rural Sierra Leone.
The Rogbonko Village Retreat is an initiative by Sheka Forna – whose father was born in the village – intended to generate interest in rural Sierra Leone and to educate visitors and local people alike about the importance of traditional values.
Built a little way from the village the Rogbonko Village Retreat consists of two mud brick houses, each with two twin bedrooms, a living room, and a bathroom. Facing the houses is the ‘barray’ – an open-sided round house offering a shady place to eat, sit and chat.
The Rogbonko Village Retreat is run by and employs local villagers and is an important source of revenue for the community. Income from assisting visitors and selling local produce and crafts provides a vital addition to the subsistence farming on which most villagers depend. Benefiting from visitors encourages the community to take pride in their heritage and conserve their valuable natural and cultural resources.
Visitors to the retreat experience real Sierra Leonean village life; sleeping in a traditional house, meeting the villagers, eating their food, witnessing their traditions, and sharing their daily lives.