Freetown, Baby!

Council Tax by mabrajeux
September 16, 2010, 8:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

When you walk around Freetown, you quickly get used to people calling out for you, sometimes even gesturing to come over. After doing so a couple of times, I eventually realised that there often is no particular reason for it and became a little more circumspect before crossing the road whenever someone shouted ‘white girl’.

So when a woman sitting on a bench near cotton tree in the centre of Freetown hailed me and asked me to stop, I waved back, said ‘kushe’ and carried on briskly. She called after me again and I kept ignoring her, politely but firmly, when someone pointed out that she was actually from the city council and collecting local taxes from residents.

Dubious though I was, on my way back I decided to stop and find out more about it. And so she explained enthusiastically that she was indeed from the local council and they were in fact collecting local taxes from local residents, so if I was one, I should pay up. If I did not, the lady assured me, she would walk over to the police over there and they would arrest me.

I hesitated for a second, then decided that street tax collection was maybe not such a strange thing here, and that her overflowing bag of little plastic wallets that would be used to fashion personalised cards for each taxpayer ‘including ID photos!) probably ruled out the possibility of a scam… The fact that it only cost 5,000Le (less than one pound) might also have assuaged any initial concerns!!

And so I paid up, gave the lady 5,000Le and my passport photo and was promptly handed my ‘Local Tax Receipt’, to carry with me at all time and without which I would, I’m sure, be arrested promptly by the police!!



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