Friday, November 5, 2010

Bondo Devil at #55 Dama Road - Kenema

© by Chad Finer
The house in this picture was owned by a woman that we knew very well. She was much older than we were in those days - perhaps in her late 40's - we never knew her age for sure. We knew her as Mama Hokey Kemoh. She came from a village about 6 miles from Kenema (known as Foindu Nongowa) and although Kenema was where she spent a good portion of her time - she did travel by lorry to her village from time to time. Mama Hokey was the area Sowei (or head of the women's secret society that was also known as the Bondo Society). She either owned or was in charge of the Bondo devils that from time to time would come out when the Bondo was active. She was very fond of Susan and also took a liking to us as a couple. She appreciated our interest in Mende ways and as a result would let us know when the Devil might be coming by, or when there was to be a so-called "sing" at her house so that we could come by and be part of the activity. And she knew that I took a lot of pictures and was always agreeable to me bringing my camera along. Many times after we finished our day we would visit - she was very helpful in helping us understand Mende ways and beliefs. The above devil most certainly was one of hers. The woman in brown to the devil's left was almost always with the devil when it came out. She was a very pleasant person with a very wonderful smile...she was there to help the devil get about in the community. On the veranda of Mama Hokey's house is Salimatu Tholey Karankey (she is wearing the red head dress). Salimatu was a young woman who came to Kenema from Temne country (Makeni) in the northern province of Sierra Leone to become Pa Karankey's second wife. Pa Karankey originally came from Guinea - I think that he was Mandingo. With Salimatu and his other wife Wuya, they ran a small market on the veranda selling a variety of goods. Being that she was not Mende she was somewhat of an outsider in Mendeland. However, at times she enjoyed seeing the activity as is evidenced here. This house sat across the road from our on Dama Rd as it headed south out of Kenema towards the village of Dama in Dama Chiefdom.

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