Friday, July 2, 2010

A Su Gande Carved Bondo Mask - Dama Rd in Kenema

© by Chad Finer

This Bondo Mask is typical of Su Gande's work. I came across this devil in our neighborhood and across the road from where we lived. This was taken in the morning - roughly about 11 am - at #55 Dama Road. The house behind is Mama Hokey's (see prior postings about her). I have learned this year that Mama Hokey has died. As noted previously - for us she was our mentor. She befriended us early - and in her own way taught us about Mende culture. She was clearly the leader of the local Bondo society and this was one of her devils. Mama Hokey knew of my interest in learning all that I could about Mende culture and it was she who often sent for us when there was Bondo activity in the area. She loved my photos - I gave her many both of herself and her friends and of the devil when it was out and about. In these days I think Mama Hokey was in her late 40's. In this photo - the woman on the left, in brown, was what I called the attendant to the devil. She was almost always proximate to the devil when it came out and to some degree guided it about. The helmet mask here was made by Su Gande - the finish here is quite shiny and I suspect that it was an enamel paint rather than the more traditional indigo dye. Sometimes shoe polish would be used. This may have been the mask that I commissioned Su Gande to make - and then gave to Mama Hokey. Also pictured here is a woman on the right I knew as Ye Massa. Somewhat of a character - she was very outspoken and unafraid to speak her mind. She only spoke Mende but was all too willing to tell me advice at anytime I came across her. From time to time she would play the Segburreh (or shake-shake) and was quite good at this. Behind, and nearest the house is a student of ours named Baindu Lansana. I do not remember the name of the woman standing behind the devil. This photo was taken in March 1970.

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