The Place at Tokeh Beach

Mohamed Kamara – Recycling in Tokeh village

The Place at Tokeh Beach have strong beliefs in working with the local community and also in recycling as much as possible.

In Sierra Leone, recycling and waste management can be difficult to manage due to lack of training and limited infrastructure, but at The Place Resort we try our best to re-use what we can or at least give it those skilled enough to use again.

A fascinating example is Mohamed Kamara who regularly collects all of our soft drink cans to create pots and pans to be sold and used in Tokeh village.

Mohamed and his family collect all of the aluminium cans, before crushing them with rocks or sticks then melting them down over a burning hot fire. Once melted they are able to shape them in to objects such as large pans used for cooking rice.

It is a fascinating way of using what is available to you to create an item that can then be used in business to support your family and community.

If you have any suggestions on other ways to recycle or would like to find out more about The Place at Tokeh Beach, please feel free to contact us at welcome@stayattheplace.com

The Place at Tokeh Beach

Kandeh Bangura – Tokeh Politician

History of Tokeh

Long before The Place Resort, Tokeh beach was known as one of the most luxurious locations in Sierra Leone and played a massive role in bringing European tourists to West Africa.

Local politician Kandeh Bangura explains that prior to the civil war, the tourism sector in SaLone was booming and that all along the Peninsular, resorts were welcoming international guests on a regular basis.

Tokeh was one of the most attractive locations for holidaymakers due to its soft white sand, calm seas and lush mountainous backdrop.

Four resorts stretched across Tokeh beach, all unique with their own sense of character and charm whilst all playing a huge part in providing support to the local economy and helping develop the community.

Africana Tokeh

The Africana Tokeh was by far the best known and most lavish of the hotels with over 100 rooms and villas.

Opened in 1986 by President Dr Joseph Saidu Momoh, the Africana attracted dignitaries from around the world along with celebrities and very influential people.

In order to stay at the Africana a reservation had to be made between 3 – 6 months in advance, proving how popular this 5* resort was.

Over 200 staff were employed at the resort, with the majority coming from Tokeh and other neighbouring villages such as York, Black Johnson and Big Water.

Similar to the partnership The Place holds with the Tokeh community, the Africana also supported projects such as the construction of the dam, building of the school and also provided food for those less privileged.

Featuring all the toys such as speedboats, jet-skis and paragliding, the Africana was certainly the place to be. Plus with African entertainment every week, there was a real mix of European finesse with Sierra Leone flavour. Even to the extent that two French guests, one being the owner Jean Pierre, were allowed to join a secret society.

Unfortunately the Africana Tokeh was looted and destroyed during the war and now all that stands are the ruined buildings. But it has played its part and continues to inspire The Place Resort to deliver the same high levels of service on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Kailondo

Kailondo was smaller than the Africana Tokeh and similar to The Place Resort with 50 rooms on site.

Kailondo is situated just to the right of The Place; you can explore the old grounds from the beach and still notice some of the finer details of tiling and structure.

Over 90% of Kailondo employees were from Tokeh village, including the former General Manager Ibrahim Surrie Kamara. One of the most fascinating members of staff was the unofficial head of security, a parrot.

The parrot was chained to the centre of the resort and the owner trained it to observe all guests and staff to then report any misbehaviour.

The only way to distract the parrot was supposedly for a woman to show her private parts and wait until it would pass out from laughing, mischief managed.

Kandeh’s father worked at Kailondo as the head of activities, arranging excursions and boat trips to Banana Island and nearby beaches. Kandeh has great memories of this resort and is hopeful that one day it will be restored.

Kuta

A smaller and more intimate resort, Kuta had 10 rooms and was built in the early 90’s.

Its name Kuta comes from the krio name for Barracuda, which after the French owner Oleg tasted the fish on Tokeh beach knew that this was where he wanted to set up his establishment.

Although no sign of Kuta remains, it was based close to Tokeh village and helped provide electricity to the mosque, as well as helping to improve the road to the beach and supporting the junior school.

During school sports events different houses represented all of the four resorts. Food and sports supplies were provided to fund the activities and encourage the students.

Less expensive in price, most guests tended to stay for longer holidays at Kuta to enjoy some real peace and quiet.

Muzungu

Opened around the same time as Kuta by another French businessman, Muzungu was situated up on the hill past River No.1, close to where the Big Bamboo Inn is now.

The Swahili translation for Muzungu is explorer, though it can also be used as a term to describe a white man.

Muzungu was part of both Tokeh and York, therefore staff were employed from both villages, providing jobs and training for a number of families.

The island just off York was used as one of Muzungu’s main attractions as guests were allowed to go fishing there or explore the rocks.

On the island there was plenty of fruit, though no one was allowed to remove any of it from the island, it had to be consumed there.

Still to this day you will notice a tower on the far side of the island, this was the shared toilet but looks more like a totem pole.

The Place at Tokeh Beach

Opened in 2013 by His Excellency Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, The Place at Tokeh Beach is now Sierra Leone’s Premier Beach Resort.

Offering service with a smile, fresh local seafood and the best accommodation in Sierra Leone. The Place Resort is leading the way in trying to emulate the glory days of Tokeh.

Inspired by all four of the older resorts, hopefully one day The Place will welcome the same amount of international guests and help put Sierra Leone back on the map for all of the right reasons.

The Place at Tokeh Beach

Henry Koroma - Former Waiter

The Place at Tokeh Beach believes in providing opportunities and developing skills, which is one of the main reasons why the resort was built in the first place, to help boost the tourism sector of Sierra Leone.

One former staff member has took full advantage of this opportunity and is now representing SaLone overseas.

Henry ‘High Tide' Koroma first started working at The Place Resort in 2013 as a waiter. Over the years he has impressed staff and guests with his enthusiasm, work ethic and smile.

In 2015 Henry was made Restaurant Supervisor to our beach bar & restaurant ‘High Tide’. He continued to show great promise within hospitality and his talent was soon recognized.

Recently Henry was rewarded for his service with an exciting prospect, the chance to work at the beautiful Cerf Island Resort in the Seychelles, an Island in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa.

“I’m really enjoying my new job, it is a great experience and I am learning a lot,” stated Henry.

“Through my hard work and commitment at The Place Resort, they were able to help me achieve my dream of working abroad and helped me find my current job in the Seychelles.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity and really want to make the most of my time here before one day returning to Sierra Leone.”

 

The Place at Tokeh Beach

Abu Bakaar Conteh – Fisherman

Whilst eating breakfast at The Place at Tokeh Beach, one of the most fascinating spectacles to watch from the beach side balcony is the workmanship of the local fishermen.

Pulling in the daily catch is a long and tough process, with a net over 100m long it can take up to four hours to get to shore and yet still come with little reward.

A team of 16 set off in the Baniwick Wary Express, meaning ‘use the talent that God has gave you and express thanks’, in the cover of darkness, sometimes as early as 3am to search for their daily income.

Tokeh fisherman Abu Bakaar Conteh explained that on a good day the boat can bring in up to 100 fish, which can result in a tidy profit of 2-3 million Leones. However on a bad day the group might have to share just 170,000 Leones ($23) between all of them.

Once the catch is reeled in, Abu Bakaar is responsible for selecting which fish to sell and to whom. Usually the bigger fish such as Barracuda, Spanish, Mackerel, Snapper and Grouper are all sold to the fishmongers who then travel to nearby Waterloo to sell on the market.

The Place at Tokeh Beach try to support the local community, so we wait in line to purchase a lot of the fish that you see on our menu from Abu Bakaar and his team.

The smaller fish is kept for the families of the fishermen and used in cooking local dishes such as Cassava Leaf and Groundnut Soup.

Though Abu Bakaar has worked for over 25 years as a fisherman and learned his trade from his father, he is keen for his son to pursue a different career and encourages him to study hard at school. He only allows his son and his friends to join in with the work on a weekend when school is closed.

Abu Bakaar explained that the beach in front of the resort is ideal for fishing as a lot of the fish seek shelter around Tokeh Island, which is why the nets are cast and pulled in on a fairly calm tide.

So the next time you hear the chanting of “hoooo, hoooo, hoooo” over your morning coffee at The Place Resort, you will know that Abu Bakaar and his team are focused, the chant is to engage them in their activity and hopefully bring in a good catch of the day.

The Place at Tokeh Beach

Patrick Kanu – Head Gardener

On your next visit to The Place Resort make sure to take a walk around the grounds and admire the beauty of the flowers and the lush scenery.

Head Gardener Patrick Kanu and his team take great pride in keeping the resort in pristine condition, a high standard worthy of our location.

Tokeh Beach is for sure one of the best beaches in the entire world, with golden white sand, clear blue water and high rising mountains in the backdrop, our beautiful array of flowers certainly add to the surroundings.

Patrick (Pah) Kanu has worked at The Place Resort for almost 2 years and in that time he has helped transform our gardens. Having worked for the Ministry of Agriculture in Freetown for over 39 years, he has an abundance of experience and knowledge of what grows well in Sierra Leone.

Every day Patrick and his team Ramdene, Sara, Sembu and Tallan take great care of our gardens, watering the plants, trimming hedges and removing weeds.

Most seeds are planted in May or June, just before the start of the rainy season to allow their roots to spread. Once the soil is wet enough, stems will start to appear in a matter of weeks and soon enough flowers will bloom.

Pah Kanu explained that The Place currently has a selection of flowers and trees including:

·      Yellow Bell

·      Ibiscus (red, pink and white)

·      Frangipani (white and pink)

·      Grandmother in law tongue

·      Acassia

·      Palm trees

·      Coconut trees

If you would like to find out more about the flowers and plants on display then feel free to ask Pah Kanu for a guided tour on your next visit to The Place at Tokeh Beach.

The Place at Tokeh Beach

Bai F.S. Kamara – Vice Principal

The Place at Tokeh Beach strongly believe in working closely with the local community, which is why we are committed to supporting the village secondary school.

With over 20 years of experience in education, Mr Kamara moved from Lungi to Tokeh in 2013 to take over as Vice Principal of the Kulafai Secondary School in Tokeh after The Place Resort helped build and develop the new school.

Ever since Mr Kamara started, The Place at Tokeh Beach have contributed greatly to the school and he had this to say on their support:

“We have a very good relationship with The Place Resort, they have helped provide a lot of materials for us over the years, including the building and maintenance of the school.

“The children and staff of this school are very grateful to The Place Resort for their continued support and hope that it continues, because donations like this help motivate the children to attend class.

“Due to the support of The Place Resort, some of our pupils these last few years have been able to get a good education and have now gone on to university, we hope more will do the same.”

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