I visited the U.S. Embassy in Freetown last week. And before I talk about the visit itself, I must mention that the sceneries in Salone continue to amaze me and take my breath away.
At the risk of sounding too much like a tourist, the view from the plateau of the embassy overlooking Freetown is magnificent. There was a slight fog at the altitude where we stood, so it wasn’t even as clear and beautiful as it could have been.
Still, I have no doubt that I would have made the drive up to the embassy for the view alone.
Anyway, my visit to the embassy was actually quite surreal. A fairly intimidating structure, the building itself is very… “American.” I don’t know if it’s something that I can describe with words; just a feeling that I got after looking at the building from the outside.
It’s as if someone snatched up a building from the United States and placed it in the mountains of Salone. Little did I know that the inside of the building would stir even stranger feelings within my chest.
As I entered the embassy and walked through the hallways, I was in awe of how different it was from any other place I’ve been in Freetown. From the dark gray carpets to the light bulbs which reminded me of my old dentist’s office, the interior of the embassy gave me the feeling like I was literally back in America.
I guess you could say I felt like the outside of the embassy was still Freetown, Sierra Leone; but the inside of the building was the United States of America, and the security gate acted as some kind of transportation portal – as crazy as that may sound.
In other news, last Friday, the 4th of July, was the American Independence Day, a national holiday that is highly regarded and grandly celebrated in the states with parades, street fairs, and, of course, fireworks.
The embassy had a celebration of its own that day, but I was not fortunate enough to receive an invitation to the event because the embassy apparently already sent out too many invitations.
At the time of my visit, I told them that I understood their reasoning, but looking back, I wish I had fought a little harder to try to get an invitation. I mean, how does it make sense that I – both a member of the press and an American citizen – not get an invitation to a 4th of July event (albeit on short notice)?
I’m rather sad and disappointed, to say the least. But no matter, I suppose my focus, at least for the next month or two, should be on immersing myself in African culture, and trying to become more of a resident of Freetown, Sierra Leone, than that of Seattle, Washington.
By Yu Nakayama