National Council of Chiefs, UN Women Launch Inventory on Poro Groves

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Traditional leaders at the program in Gbanga, Bong County.

To regulate all of the Poro groves in Liberia, the National Council of Chiefs and Elders in collaboration with partners officially launched the ‘inventory’ on Wednesday in Gbarnga, Bong County with Chief Zanzan, Karwor head of the traditional council performing the ceremony. The inventory intends to tabulate all forest groves where the traditional people perform their practices.

Groves, as used, refers to bushes where traditional and cultural practices of Liberia are conducted.

The National Council of Chiefs and Elders whose responsibility, among other things, is to coordinate all traditional practices launched the inventory with the expectation to start Lofa, Grand Bassa and Gbapolu Counties exercises that will last for three months.

Chief Karwor said traditional leaders saw the importance to know the number of traditional bushes to put the chiefs, and elders on their guard.

Karwor added, “I advise that no one should open new groves in any part of the country, and anyone who does that will face the wrath of the traditional people.”

He said there has been tension from partners requesting from him as head of the traditional leaders to abolish some traditional practices that are ‘very hard’ for him to do without consulting all of the chiefs, zoes and traditional leaders of Liberia, though he did not indicate what practices needed to be abolished.

He called those that are advocating to abolish some of the traditions should take it easy, because as time passes, things change, so it is with tradition and culture.

“Many years ago, men used to spend four years in the Poro Grove and women spent three years, but things have changed. Today men are spending four months while women are spending three months,” he said.

He said as time goes by, it will be important for those traditional bushes to be modernized to include schools and hospitals and building those cultural villages will help to improve the practice.

L-R: Ambassador of Sweden, UNWOMEN Country Representative, Marie Goreth-Nizigama and Chief Zanzan Karwor

The one-day consultative meeting with traditional leaders and paramount chiefs was attended by 45 chiefs, elders and traditional leaders from the 15 political subdivisions of Liberia, the Ambassador of Sweden, Deputy Head of Mission of the African Union, and the Internal Affairs Ministry.

UN WOMEN Country Representative, Marie Goreth-Nizigama, recognized Liberia’s rich cultural tradition, stressing the need to filter the traditional practices to reflect the best one.

She said that while it is true that some Liberians are so used to those practices, international organizations will work with the Council of Chiefs and Elders to ensure that alternative opportunities are provided for and that awareness is made about the good and bad sides of Liberian traditions.

Madam Nizigama said they are going to support the inventory of the traditional bushes, and will be starting with the first three counties and later the rest of the counties.

She said there was a need for the chiefs and elders to speak with their communities’ residents to help put an end to child marriage; FGM and other outdated practices.

Nizigama said hat Liberia is among the remaining 28 African countries that have not abolished FGM, and so there exists the need to put an end to some of the practices, which traditional leaders would approve.

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