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Poro Festival

The Poro, or Purrah or Purroh, is a men's secret society in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast, introduced by the Mande people.

 

It is sometimes referred to as a hunting society and only males are admitted to its ranks.

 

The female counterpart of the Poro society is the Sande society.

 

The Poro society was part of the culture introduced by Mande people, migrants to the region as early as 1000 AD.

Two affiliated and secret associations exist in Sierra Leone, the Yassi and the Bundu. The first is nominally reserved for females, but members of the Poro are admitted to certain ceremonies.

 

All the female members of the Yassi must be also members of the Bundu, which is strictly reserved for women.

Of the three, the Poro is by far the most important. The entire native population is governed by its code of laws.

 

It primarily represents a type of fraternal society to which even infants are temporarily admitted. The ceremony for them consists of carrying them into the Poro bush and out again.

There are also religious and civil aspects of the Poro. Under the former, boys join it at puberty as a rite of passage. Under its civil aspects, the society serves as a kind of native governing body, making laws, deciding on war and peace, etc.