During the [Re:]Entanglements project we will be retracing N. W. Thomas’s itineraries in Nigeria and Sierra Leone and depositing copies of Thomas’s historic photographs and recordings with present-day communities in the places he visited as well as conducting new research.

Photo and sound elicitation in North Edo

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Yagala, Sierra Leone

N. W. Thomas visited Yagala in northern Sierra Leone in September 1914. Yagala is the headquarter town of the predominantly Limba Wara Wara Yagala chiefdom. At the time of Thomas’s visit the paramount chief was Gbawuru, whom Thomas photographed with his wives and hammockmen. Along with a number of other towns in the vicinity, Yagala was sited on a hill top, which could be effectively defended from attack, and its houses were built from stone. The town relocated to the foot of the hill in 1953 when a new road was constructed. A few elderly community members can still recall the move from their hill-top homes. To the best of our knowledge Thomas’s photographs are the only ones showing the old settlement when it was still inhabited. As well as collecting oral histories, during fieldwork we have worked with community members to plot and record many of the houses and cultural sites of the old settlement.