Just over the hill from Kissy and Wellington lies the village of Charlotte nestled at the bottom of the slope in between the hills. It was during the infamous January 6, 1999 invasion of Freetown when many residents were pursued by the rebels and ended up fleeing into the hills to seek refuge when they suddenly found out they were looking at another community.
Charlotte Village has such a serene and peaceful atmosphere that those living there –if not for the absence of basic necessities – often forget they are part of what is now known as Greater Freetown. Unbeknown to many it harbours a rich history and unbelievably wonderful scenery.
Charlotte became prominent some 63 years ago when after torrential rains had fallen for close to a week, (4th to 11th )one of the hills over looking the settlement gave up part of its body and in a mixture of rain water and mud flowed treacherously in a landslide creating a dam across the fast flowing stream which subsequently washed away some 7 houses.
This was 11th August 1945 at about 4pm and it was recorded as the worst landslide ever to be experienced in Sierra Leone. Today what remains is the hill which is now renamed landslide hill and the area which was covered by the mud which is now known as bottom Shekeh. Incidentally whether or not they intend to court death, these villagers have comfortably located their houses around the age old spot.
About 200 hundred metres away on the clim of the hill which could lead to Kissy, lies the almost 200 year old St John the Evangelist Church. According to our guide Akinbola Taylor the Church was built in 1841.
The power lines from the Bumbuna Hydro Electric project cross dangerously close to the Church. The villagers say they resisted attempts to break down the Church demanding an exact replica with identical hand carved stones as the replacement.
In front of the Church are the remains of what the villagers told us were the walls of the Annie Walsh memorial school.
On the other side of the village lies its most treasured possession – a bubbling waterfall. Flowing at half strength it would be difficult to listen to a radio without turning on the full volume. The water flows from God knows where with such strength that one would immediately think of its hydro electric potential which could serve as a source of light and energy for the forgotten community. But that may long be in the making, therefore the villagers are now content with asking for a little donation of two thousand leones from those who visit the beautiful waterfalls.
As we walked through the water it was so cool and soothing that we thought of shedding our clothes and bathing in the cool waters of the waterfall.
Back from the waterfalls the road what used to be a bridge was now only a tree trunk. The bridge had been destroyed by our distant cousins the rebels when they were retreating in 1999.
As we looked back Charlotte has always had the goodwill of journalists. The plaque at the bus stop on the highway tells the story.