Kabala is the capital of Koinagugu District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. Surrounded by a mountainous landscape, it is the largest city in the district. An insignificant village before the Anglo-Franco settlement of 1895, until the British colonial administration post was moved from Falaba to Kabala. Kabala grew rapidly under British rule, attracting traders and merchants from the 1930s, and after 1947, Lebanese traders opened shops in the settlement.
Kabala lies 85 miles north-east of Makeni, the largest city in the north, and approximately 200 miles east of the capital, Freetown. The district of Koinadugu where Kabala is located was once the largest district by geographical area until 2017 when Falaba District was created from it. It borders Falaba District to the north-east, Karene District to the north-west (one of the two new districts created in 2017), Bombali District to the west, Tonkolili District to the south-west, and Kono District to the south. Its geographic coordinates are 9°35′20″ North, 11°33′09″ West with an elevation of 1420 feet above sea level. Its population is estimated at 36,024 people from the 2015 Census.
Climate and ecology
The climatic condition in Kabala is tropical wet and dry/savannah. It is located near the tropical moist forest biome with an average annual temperature of 25.2 degree Celsius. Temperature can drop to 16.4 Celsius from December to January.
Diamond mining is a major economic activity in the district, as well as agriculture, mostly growing rice, vegetables, such as tomatoes, green beans, and cabbage, and fruits, such as mangoes and bananas. Most of the vegetables found in Freetown are grown in Senekedugu, meaning ‘the land of the farm’ in Kuranko. Kabala is well known for gara tie-dying and manufacturing the traditional “ronko” gown using old-fashioned methods. The gown, which is a loose men’s shirt is believed to have mystical powers. However, this traditional industry is under threat from cheap Chinese imports.
The most famous landmark in Kabala, Gbawuria hill is a huge black cliff that overlooks Kabala town and gives you an impressive view of Kabala. Local legend has it that Pa Bala, the man Kabala was possibly named after is the guardian of the mountain. The hill is more famous these days for its legendary Kabala Festival, a New Year extravangaza celebrated on top of the hill, where people come from all over Sierra Leone to party the night away. Originally, the Kabala Festival was used to showcase the traditions and cultures of the various chiefdoms and tribes in the region.
Wara Wara Mountain
Wara Wara Mountain is an amazing and enchanted place to visit, a tourist haven for the adventurous at heart. Located in Kabala, the mountain is about five hours drive from the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown. Visit this mountain and you will find many caves to explore. It’s a great place for hiking, camping and wildlife watching. The mountain has its fair share of traditional and superstitious beliefs. The locals firmly believe that whosoever wants to become a paramount chief of Kabala town must visit the caves, and legend has it that an old woman once brought a certain stone from the mountain to town, which when touched by a barren woman became pregnant.
Kabala like the rest of Sierra Leone is crazy about football and this town has produced a major First Division League team known as the Bintumani Scorpions.
Infrastructural development Although culturally and economically important with immense potential for tourism, Koinadugu District is one of the least developed in Sierra Leone. The terrible road infrastructure, lack of reliable electricity and safe drinking water supply, severely hampers investment in the district. Farmers are losing huge sums of money simply because they cannot trans-port their harvest on-time to larger urban cities, especially during the raining season.
The Koinadugu Council secured millions of Euros from the EU to rehabilitate the Kabala/Makeni highway, which is currently underway. There are also plans to improve the road network within the district. The Kabala/ Kono highway and the Kabala/ Falaba District highway are also currently under construction, which will provide easy trade access to neighbouring Guinea. The USD 16 million Kabala Water Supply Project implement-ed by SALWACO was completed in early 2018, and the council is currently lobbying for electrification of the surrounding towns and villages.