Siaka Stevens travelled with his father to Freetown, where the young Stevens would stay with Mr. and Mrs Smith in Kissy. The plan was for Siaka to start school in the capital, Freetown. This period in Kissy were very crucial in shaping Siaka Stevens. Clearly he was now in a Creole household-very different from his country life.
As his father told him:..“whilst it is important for you to be proud of your tribe, your home and parents, you must respect the fact that strangers would feel equally proud of theirs. You must NOT let these feelings turn to arrogance or allow them to come between you and your friends. You must learn to be tolerant and understanding of other people’s customs and ideas”.
The nine year old Siaka Stevens started his day at 5 a.m in the Smith household. This involved sweeping and cooking. He would also carry the bundle of wares for Mrs. Smith to Freetown where she traded. Stevens would then dash back home to get ready for school. After school at 3 p.m he would then have to rush back home and cook a pot of rice, sweep the yard and once again leave for Freetown to carry the load of Mrs Smith. On some days after school, he would also go out to sell Kerosine.
At this time Stevens also learnt how to speak Creole. “You sabi but you nor know”…..”Gi am fedder”. All of this was a very exciting time for Stevens. In particular his access to the Creole culture which was to make an impression on him in later life, both in and outside politics. At the same time we also see an attitude which was to become a hallmark in Sierra Leone. Siaka Stevens……“I did not resent my heavy work load, for I was grateful for the kindness the Smiths had shown by taking me in. But one thing that did annoy me was the attitude of Creole people towards children from the Protectorate who were put in their care. My position in the house was that of a servant. I was even something of a slave to the children! With me to sweep, carry and fetch, they were free to play, study or do whatever they liked”.
His experience from Moyamba was one in which everyone was expected to pull in their weight. In his own word, the only thing that kept him there was the words of his father. As he said…”sometimes during those days in Kissy I had firmly to repeat to myself my father’s advice always to be willing and helpful.
In 1918 Stevens entered the Albert Acedemy. He recalled the mixed of the various tribes from Sierra Leone and other students from other parts of West Africa. During the holidays he would travel back to Moyamba. When the young students where about to go home, the senior boys would sell then a sheet of long english words. When they returned to their village they would use these words to impress, showing that they had come from Freetown and had some education. He described how he would dress up in the morning and sit on a chair after eating a lot of cassava, and then begin to shout out a lot of big English words. Young boys would gather round him, presenting a scene that resembled the old Greek orators lecturing. Stevens-”One such sentence for which I paid a penny (which was big money in those days) read someting like this: “Agitate the tintinabulary summons”, meaning: Ring the bell”. Or: “The conflagration extended its devastating career”, meaning: The fire spread!
Siaka Stevens graduated from the Albert Academy in December 1922 age 17. For this occasion we also saw what sacrifices the family had to make. Stevens: “Apart from my school fees, which where difficult enough for my father, I had to have special graduation clothes made and extra money for the festivities. In order to find the necessary money, my father had to send one of his wives, Mammie Nancy, to Freetown for a whole month to sell supfuls of rice”