Footy and poyo

National Stadium - Freetown

Friday evening Billy takes us to the National Stadium as guests of the SLFA to watch the game between a provincial team, Magburaka and a Freetown Team, Gulf Leopards, both of them in the SL Premier League.

Like the game we watched the previous week, itís a scrappy affair, lots of passion but not much going on tactically; inexperienced, young players battling out a 0-0 draw. The stadiumís virtually empty apart from a few of us in the VIP area Ė Billy explains that the Sierra Leone game is so undeveloped that most Sierra Leoneans would prefer to pay the same price to watch the UK Premier League on TV in a bar, than support their own teams.

Nevertheless, thereís something wonderful about relaxing on the concrete stepped seating of the National Stadium, drinking cold beer, eating chilli-hot cow meat kebabs and fried plantain and chatting to Billy while Jon nods off.

Palm Wine Bar

Heading back to the hotel, Jon decides he wants to check out the poyo bar nearby (poyo a.k.a. manpalma a.k.a. palm wine). Itís a great set-up, a palm roofed lean-to with a small bamboo bar literally built around a tree and serving only poyo at 500L each for a litre-sized pickle jar-full. We sit on bush stick benches in the pitch black as shadowy figures lean against the bar chatting in Krio, dogs wander in and out and taxis rumble past on the red dust road. It could only be West Africa.

Palm wine production

Iím not that keen on poyo to be honest. Itís got a very lively, slightly sour, still fermenting taste.

Jonís loving it, yelling ďpoyo!Ē into the night and making friends with everyone. I sip at mine, fully intending to leave most of it, but when we go Billy and Jon encourage me to neck it, so I do.


Itís only afterwards that Billy tells me about poyoís famous purgative effects. Back at the hotel I can barely speak at all. Not that Iím really feeling that drunk, I just canít make my words come out properly.

Then my stomach decides that I need the toilet. Really quickly.

I can honestly say I have never had such a powerful series of bowel movements in my life. It would be wrong to try to describe it in any greater detail.

But I feel great the next day. Cleansed.