Traditional Chiefs, Elders Ban Poro, Sande Activities

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Some elders of the traditional council, many of them members of the Poro Society have agreed to ban the practice.

Traditional leaders across Liberia have temporarily banned all Poro and Sande societies until otherwise ordered.

The Sande (for women) and Poro (for men) societies are the trusted custodians of “culture” in much of Liberia and have been present in the region for centuries.

At the end of the two dialogues held at a resort in Ganta, Nimba County, traditional chiefs and elders came up with a resolution to ban the two societies across the country, due to reports of conscriptions and infringements on the rights of non-members.
Although, the resolution is yet to be signed by the head traditional chief, Zanzan Karwah, who was absent from the dialogues due to national engagement, the chiefs remain resolute in their decision.

Henceforth, the resolution will take effect after two weeks, when the chief shall have then agreed and signed it.

The chiefs and elders observed that there have been some illegal practices reportedly carried on by some of the Poro and or Sande leaders, which sometimes infringed on the rights of non members, mainly in the religious circle.

“Sometimes, Poro members will put their “country devil” out in broad day light, thus obstructing free movement of ordinary people, who are non members of either societies,” said Chief Peter Barlon of Nimba County. “People have been forced to join the bush school, something that often infringed on the rights of those who are not members,” he added.

“Country devil” (not really referring to the mask dancers), and other traditional practices involving the Poro and Sande societies have become frequent in recent months, where ordinary non-members are conscripted to join, against their will.

In Nimba, last year, a member of the United Liberia Inland Church in the Saclepea region was forced out of his home and conscripted into the Poro Society. The situation almost led to serious conflict between Christians and Poro society members in the region.

In some parts of the county, the country devil would often come out in broad day, posing threat to the free movement of people, and also forcing students to abandon school to join the society.

In Gbarpolu, Alphanso Leyadopoe Dennis, an officer of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), who innocently came out of his dwelling to attend to nature one night, was abducted by the country devil. Officer Dennis was assigned as commander in Forkpah Town with jurisdictions over several towns and hamlets, including Beleh Kpallamue and Martumakolleh, all in the Gonwailala District.

And as a result of officer Denis’s abduction, his fellow joint security officers assigned in the area, who are also not members of the Poro Society, reportedly abandoned their posts due to the persistent presence of the ‘Country Devil’, which has allegedly terrorized the residents.

33 COMMENTS

  1. What a way to disrupt the culture or heritage of our people. Is that the reason to stop the Poro or sandy societies that is traditionally base institutions for natives Liberians. Why are we so fast to become a followers than show leadership in making decisions that affects the way of lives of others due to few wrong doing or malpractices? Simply put a banned on the country devil from showing up during day time or working time and most of all, there must be a messenger from the devil to informed the public about the devil coming so those that are not members can find a safe heaven from the situation. Why put a banned on the people way of life because of non members complaining? J. Ark

  2. Joseph M. Akoi, I dont know what is your level of education in modern day Liberia. The traditional chiefs are taking the right path. Most of the victims of these two groups are young men and women who are forcibly abducted and taken into the woods by their parents or the community. Do you know what female genital mutilation has done to these young beautiful girls in Liberia? Some culture can be terminated in a society and poro and sandy just happen to be two of the culture that must go and go soon too. Country devil is not the main focus but what is been done to these innocent and immature young people

  3. Nobody is force into anything:

    The Poro and Sani societies have lots of Old Christian words, even before than. Example: when we are receiving our blessings we do say “Amehner” which is equal to “Amen” in the Bible.
    No they are not evil Societies.
    They were the authorities before Governments or Christianity.
    God will bless them.

    • The Poro and Sani Societies are going nowhere. Everybody has the right to practice his/her religion in the democratic system? Christian and Islam have the right to practice?.

      I hope we are doing regional, tribal politics?
      God bless our country.

      • Correction: I hope we are NOT doing regional or tribal politics?

      • S.E; at the head of “PORO SOCIETY”, is the “DEVIL”. What good is a “DEVIL”? What positive(s) do you know, that have come from a “DEVIL”? I suppose the “DEVIL”is EVIL. That’s what you get when you drop the first letter in the spelling of DEVIL. Infact, the word “EVIL” derives from DEVIL. We will do all we can, to eliminate the “DEVIL”. The devil is at head of “PORO SOCIETY”.

  4. ‘A Cowardly Decision’–In The Face of Hidden Pressure.

    I m not a member of the Poro and Sande Societies, nor do my parents are. One thing I have to say here is, who ever is the BRAIN behind this whole decision, is a sign of disrepect to our traditional folks. I can understand not everbody in Liberia carry on this traditional practice, but however; there is no way, out of the BLUE, you can not just stop their practices because of one or two incidents with non members.

    I wrote a comment last year around August or September, about how a ‘a Christian Man’ was abducted by Poro Men. In that commemt, I mentioned how some religious ( Christian, Muslim and other ‘people of faith’), outrightly called others ‘devil’ or, ‘evil’ if one does not hold their belief. By the way, what have the UBF, Free Mason, Grand Lodge or Masonic Order done for Liberia? The answer to this question is, they perpetuated the polarization of our social class for more than 100 plus years. You either have to be like them, or there was no way for you. They were at the seat of authorty when Liberia had 5 iron ore mining companies and the world largest rubber producing plantation.

    For more than 30 years, no university, no equipped technical college, no infrastructure development. A system of de facto apartheid environment in which everybody has to be like the ruling class in order to have any chance of achieving anything.

    The Poro and Sande have been the practice of some of our people since the beginning of time when they welcome our brothers and sisters from the diasporas in 1822. I m quite sure if it was the other way around, they wouldn’t have allow it. They would have been calling them country people, and babaric.

    With the issue of beliefs, one can choose to be Christian, Muslim or any faith. You can also choose to have no faith. Sande, Poro or Bodeo (South Eastern Secret Society).Nobody has the right to provoke anyone, or bring your so call EVANGILICAL or CRUSADE to my door steps or at my Poro or Sande Groves. After all, everyboy’s tax money support the government.I m not anti Christian or Muslim, I m just been a realist. This is what usually happened most of the times. Our blind brothers and sisters who are followers of these religions, act as if they bieng to “heaven” and back. Even at the initiation rites of the KKK( KU KLUX KLAN), The Bible is used. The Bible was also used to say prayers to the slaves on the slave ships, when they were being shipped to the journey of ‘no return’. Consistently, Sunday schools and prayers were carried on ship, on top of the dungeon were the slaves were kept in chains in their own excrements.

    Who ever is behind that HIDDEN PRESSURE, please leave our people alone. It is a COWARDLY DECISION. You must as well ban UBF, FREE MASON etc…for non of them ever help improve the lives of a single Liberian. They are all a clique of croonies, band together for their own gains at the expense of our people.

    To you Mr. Hidden Pressure, the masses of Liberia are not a drop of water which loses its IDENTY when it joins the one in the drum or bocket. They are still people, for they will be here for long after you and others who think like you, are long gone. To the cheif Zoe, Mr. Zanzar Karwor, please, no pressure must allow you to INK this aggrement. If you do, you will be on the wrong side of history.

  5. Our fathers(Traditional Chiefs) are being misled by few civil society organizations to come out with this so-called resolution, because they want to satisfy their donors. Let them(Donors and greedy civil society groups) leave our culture along, we are not saying, that our culture does not have bad practices, but those can be corrected. Why most of our people are now dressing like Nigerians, because these people project their cultures, though there are bad part of it.Why these donors cannot ban “homosexual” activities(Man marrying man, woman marrying woman, man changing his sex organ to woman,etc), in their countries, they called it rights! But wants us to ban ours? What do they mean, because we do not have money? Let them leave our culture and we will leave theirs. No small group of people will ban our traditional schools.

  6. Mr. Gbada Flomo, I saw this coming, anytime I write, I always mention, about self reliance and astute Nationalism. I learned that in Australia. You will never be people in your own country, if you continue to embrace someone’s value. Every problem we get, we running to the door of foreign missions/embassies to solicite their views on the resolutions of our problems.

    Can they press the Chinese to stop visiting Shaoling Temples, or tell the Indians to stop bathing in the River Ganges etc. Bullshit! Bathing in the River Ganges is a Hindu Ritual. More than 1 billion Hindus do that every year. Because we have shown to them that we cannot talk back, we are LAZY.
    There are more Hindu and Mandarin Scientist, doctors, astronauts in both America and the West. No matter what education they have, they keep their culture values. Not us. Once a Liberian learn how to read A,B,C he try distance himself from his traditional culture.
    There is no such thing like WESTERN CIVILIZATION. It is all borrowed, piece together.
    My professor told me that in Sydney…let’s not be carried away. Homosexual, Lesbian Transgeder, etc. Are all hail in the West. We don’t want that. This month is called LGBTQ month in America. Every where is RED, ORANGE, YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE, INDIEGO and VIOLET flags. Showing symbolising right for gay,lesbien etc.

    Let our people be left alone. Our people are throwin bombs, or invading anyone.

    This will not work!!!!!!!!

  7. Oh, “Things Fall Apart” is indeed a reality! Our heritage and culture have be swept under the carpet only for western style of civilization. Other African countries can’t abolish their heritage or culture only for the sake of western’s donations. We have lost our heritage and culture, and now left with independence which we will one day lost because of the west elite. Since we have no culture and tradition that we can show as an African nation, i therefore recommend that we dissolve the Ministry of Internal Affairs, remove the cultural portion from the Ministry of Information and left with Information and tourism affairs. Our leaders are harming us so dearly that our traditional leaders have lost pride and respect to their respective town, villages, communities and cities. You indeed set a great record without dignity and achievement.

    • We can very well keep the best parts of our culture. Eliminate that part that’s headed by a DEVIL. The devil is EVIL. God Bless You…

  8. The Poro and Sande Societies will live on forever. If you don’t like it, leave Liberia.
    This is our culture. It existed before Christianity was ever introduced in Liberia.
    I hope that the Elders think about their people before they signed any document.
    If You cannot stand the heat, get out of the Kitchen.

  9. We have often blamed the East and the West for the underdevelopment of Liberia and the rest of Africa without holding ourselves responsible for the parts we have played in the process of our own underdevelopment. The Poro and Sandys societies continued to be used by members of the cannibalistic leopard society to destroy human lives, intimedate our people, and suppress growth and development of our country which is one of the many factors associated with these societies. Also, the continuous existence of the much emphasized, “Liberian Culture of Impunity” is tied mainly to secret fraternities of Liberia, including the Poro and the Sandy societies.

    As we all know, the bush-school societies do not teach professions that are needed to generate income for families and the population of Liberia, what is the essence of these secret societies in today’s world?

    Moreover, according to the laws of Liberia, every organization that exists in Liberia should be duly registered with the government with detailed descriptions of all of its objectives, and functional activities, the legal obligations that have not been fulfilled by the Poro and Sandys societies of Liberia; why? “Something inside!!!”

    The world is changing, so should we Liberians for the betterment of our people and the rest of Africa and the world. Thanks

  10. I love the traditional societies, most especially the Poro. The transaction of business of the Poro is usually done in the bush and in the town. Most of the towns, years back, did lack access to roads. Citizens in towns where the poro society is practiced, were constrained to walk long distance to get to the main highways. In such a condition, the ‘Country Devil’ coming to town was not a problem for the citizens. These towns were enclosed by bushes without farm to market roads. Today, most of the towns that were not connected by roads are connected today. As such, it is difficult to have control over vehicles and motorbikes coming into these towns. There are influx of strangers or business people into these towns. Someone enters the town unknowingly while the ‘Country Devil’ is in town creates a problem for such person. Our constitution speaks to free movement and association.

    We need to understand that things have changed, most especially at the level of the towns. Therefore, our traditional leaders need to look into this matter with care. Maybe the coming to town of the ‘Country Devil’ needs to be studied to inform a sound decision for everyone.

  11. What did the UBF, FREE MASONS, or Masonate (I might not have the spelling correct here), done for Liberia or Africa? The Chinese, Indian , Korean or other emerging developed Asian countries are not part of these fraternities. They have their own traditions. For more than 130 years plus, members of those fraternities controlled the our power brackets. I m yet to see any significant achievement that were made in Liberia. Backward educational systems, no standard level secondary/ high schools. Every one pursuing higher education have to leave Liberia to study.

    The problem is not with the Poro or Sande Societies. Those who were at the top of authority in Liberia, did not have the country priority straight. The big temple( Masonic Temple) up there on Benson Street in Monrovia, is where decisions of the country were carved. Not in the Poro or Sande Groves. If the those decisions set the country back, then those members are held accountable.

    Liberia was more than 120 years old when the African Liberation Movement begin, in the 1960s. I went to school in Australia, and visited more Asian Countries on Spring breaks, and exchange programs. Many high schools in India, China, Malaysia Vietnam, etc, have Science labs. In the 1950s we had 5 major iron ore pruducing companies and the world largest rubber production plantation. Was the members of the Poro or Sande Societies controlling the balance sheets. Who are those that were making decisions to built roads, schools, health care, educations, etc. Just leave our poor people alone.

  12. The dying of the Sande and Poro Societies is a signal to the end of Liberia culture.

    Liberia culture is gradually dying off before our eyes. It is just a matter of time before we finally see the end of her last days. Today in Liberia, cultural practices can not be done easily. From naming a child, wedding ceremonies (especially dress code), speaking in natives tongue and preparation of iconic food have all seen a wave of attack by outside forces.There are so many obstacles in the daily lives of our culture that can not be overlooked. Under the Ellen government,The Liberia cultural Center commonly Called Kendeja was sold to an American billionaire who later turned the once famous center into a business area. I don’t know if this was an act of killing the cultural practices of Liberia or just for investments purposes. You be the judge of that. Today,the National Culture Center is homeless.

    Like Chinua Achebe said ” when things fall apart,the center can not hold”. The Poro and Sande societies are two distinct cultural schools of Liberia that is respected thru out the length and birth of Liberia. Like any other institution,there are always challenges within those institutions. So the Poro and Sande are no acception to challenges. I believe it is the collective agreement and interest of furthering the culture of Liberia that both government and international partners can come up with plans that will better address some of the issues affecting the both schools.

    We as a people have to be clear about Liberia culture. We have to understand that our culture identify us as Liberians. It help shows to outsiders who we are and what we stand for. If we continue to do things or follow other people to destroy our culture,we will be denying our future generations the true identity of Liberia. In Liberia today,there are some parents who no longer name their kids traditional Liberian names or better still they no longer teach their kids Liberian dialects. For them it is waste of time and effort. In other words, a country that does not respect it’s cultural practices is bound to destroy itself.

    I have witnessed many occasions were Liberian traditional wedding ceremonies are typically the same as people from Nigeria,Ghana and other parts of Africa. We have adapter their way of traditional outfit,their dance,food and their names during our wedding ceremonies.
    This brings me to a very important question. What is wrong with us?
    It seems that we don’t love ourselves! We hate to be called names that truly identify us as Liberians. We are quick to adapt to foreign culture so quickly that we are lost in the midst of those foreign activities.

    I am not saying we can not make changes to confirm with the 21 century standard. What I am saying is that, we have to be careful on how we are moving towards those changes. If we are not careful we will end up killing our own identity! The Liberian identity…and that identity is the Poro and Sande Societies.

    • Well said Mr. M.M. Cammue.
      Our traditions will live on no matter what all these foreigners are saying. If they don’t like it, they can go back where they came from.

  13. I find it very difficult to wrap my mind around some understandings about the continuous existence of the Poro and Sande societies in Liberia. All of us need to do some research about secret societies of Liberia. Some of the contributors to this discussion seem to know nothing about the subject matter.

    The reason why I am fully in support of the decision by the Elders to ban the Poro and Sande societies is that members of the cannibalistic leopard society continued disguise themselves under the pretex that the leopard society is a part of the Poro Society. I would like for you and I to know that the leopard society is not a part of the Poro society. The ban is not new….

    In the 1930’s, the Liberian government banned the Poro and Sande societies and brought to justice, some members that were associated with the leopard society. The leopard society then immediately went underground and later emerged as Keelah which existed and practiced everything of the leopard society. Later on in 1955, some members of the secret Keelah were arrested in Nimba and other parts of Liberia for their involvement with the remains of Oldman Wuoa-Ghoo in the town of Gipo. After the massive arrest and some little punishments, Keelah went underground and re-emerged under different nomenclatures in different parts of Liberia. And since then, they have been responsible for the deaths of missing people whose bodies are found with parts missing.

    Therefore, the ban on Poro and Sande is not because of Christianity, it is because of the
    cannibalism practiced by some members of Poro who are also members of leopard society. This double membership has somehow created links between the Poro and the leopard societies. This is why this ban is necessary.

    Thanks

  14. God bless you too Henry Freeman. I can see that you don’t have any idea what the Country Devil or the Poro Society are about. I am not going to tell you here. This is a Secret Society. Those who belong to it understand. The country Devil is everywhere, so don’t be afraid, it wouldn’t harm you. Just be nice.

  15. People who are quick to point fingers at others do so in other to deflect attention away from their bad and wrong they do, stupidity and ignorance.

    Mr. Henry Freeman, and other who will be happy if these traditional practices come to an end are ignorant. They are the one who fathers, grandfathers, great, great grandfathered that steered the affairs of this Nation for more than a century. They were part of fraternities that were at the echelon of power making decisions that were only in the interest of members of the those fraternities, not the in the interst of the COMMONERS.

    Pointing fingers at traditional societies to be blamed, is like a grandfather accusing his grandchildren of being illiterate, while he himself has squandered educational opportunities in the past.

    With issue of the name DEVIL, research has shown that it was the Americo Liberian that begin calling cultural performer DEVIL. In other countries, they are MASQUERADERS. The humiliation of our native way of life begins when the ex-slaves arrived.

    People of all faiths, should be in the business of looking in the interest of the least. However; not our so-called people of faith. The biggest slogan we always here from them is “we are Cleansing this nation from the deviPeoplellshit, they have been ‘cleansing’ this nation since the beginning of time.

    I say, keep your faith, do not disturb others. When you died, your god will not judge you with the consent and approval of the rest of the Liberian masses.

    When you are in a position of authority, build equipped schools, roads, train good engineers, scientists.That’s what Liberia needs, not trying to decimate another person’s cultural practices.

    Most Japanese, Chinese, Indian scientists and astronauts have their traditional practices along with them. They built rockets and blast them into orbits. We are sitting calling others people practices DEVIL. You must as well call Sethi Brothers in Vai Town DEVIL. Because they are Sikh, or call the Watanmal Brothers at Water Side Devil, because their rituals depends on a cast system. They are about to build 120 wells in Nimba County, for your fellow country men.

    Let’s open our eyes, people.

  16. Mr. Mamadu Bah, you do not have insult other people because of their opinions on any issues. All of us acquired our experiences from different communities and different places. We also did not attend the same educational institutions, and if we did attend the institutions, we were all not taught by the same instructors; therefore I do not know what all you know, neither do you know what others know. Due to this fact you need not to insult others for their opinions on issues. Thanks

  17. I didn’t insult any one Sir. I m not insulting Mr. Henry Freeman either. I dare not insult any one. It is not my nature sir. If you look at my heading. I m saying an open statement. ” people who point acquisition fingers, and blame others, are in themselves hiding something “. ” That make an idiea of such kind very ignorant and stupid “.

    So I think it is clear. I will never ever outrightly insult anyone sir. I only mentioning Mr Henry Freeman, because he kept say the DEVIL. I m not insulting him. The introduction paragraph of my piece was to highlights an idea. Mr Henry Freeman is not acqussing anyone, so the introductory paragraph does not fit him.

    However; if it is insulting, I m sorry. I m referring to an idea, not an individual in person.
    Thanks

  18. Mr. Bah, if anyone’s opinion on certain issue is considered, “stupid” then, the person who holds that opinion is certainly stupid. This is a direct insult to Henry and others that you were referring to. We need not to go that route, thanks.

  19. Mr. Jacob Yarwoah. Mr. Bah, from my point of view, didn’t insult any individual. It is like some of you are behaving like a ‘ brand new second hand’. Maybe a ‘ an old wind in a new pot’. Liberia have had a problem that nobody wants to addressed. The error that were made in the past, those who were at the heads of authority, were not the Poro or Sande Societies Elders or Chiefs. Policies that were in placed were not in the interest of the Nation for more than 130 years. Unlike William Tolbert, who came in and tried to lift the LIDS on the system. Because of his his COLD WAR STANCE he was killed.

    Mr. Freeman is not backing the Poor or Sande Societies, therefore; the introductory paragraph of Bah’s writing don’t relates to him.

    That statement goes to those that think that way. He only called his ( Mr freeman ) attention on the issue of the DEVIL. It was the settlers who became calling native practices DEVIL.

    Therefore, Bah had not insulted anyone so far. You are offended because perhaps, you might be one of those ” brand new second handler “.I followed his comment all the time. It is top provoking and enlighten. Keep writing young man.

    Just so bad , Old man.

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