The Inquirer (Monrovia)

Liberia: Former Lawmaker Defends Poro-Sande Societies

A former Representative of Lofa County, Phillip Saa Tali has challenged the west and those who are against the practice of Poro and Sande societies to medically show any one person or persons who ever came from the sande or Poro society and died from HIV/AIDS.

Mr. Tali also stated that the poro and sande are not secret societies as many people see them to be, but are institutions that teach values and moral standings. He further explained that girls are taught behavioral science, family-wood, home art, modeling of utensils, clothing, family planning and etc.

"They are also taught basic hygiene and healthcare delivery while in the sande bush. They are taught administrative practices by training the elderly women to assume the role of a leader who they refer to as a Zoe," he explained.

He questioned the ability of many people who do not know the difference between mutilation and circumcision, stating that mutilation is the act of permanently destroying a limb or essential part of an individual, while circumcision is cutting off of the fore skin of a male or female clitoris. He said that this practice is a culture and traditional rite of other groups of people for purification.

Mr. Tali however said that he is not also saying that everything practiced by these institutions are all correct, but suggested that there can be changes in some areas to meet the realities of modern civilization.

He then asked some ironic questions; 'who brought about prostitution, indecent dress code and all of the communicated diseases we can think of didn't come from the very west; what about the practice of homosexuality and lesbianism; aren't they also negative? he asked.

The former lawmaker stated that real cultural people are humanists and religious, but are not devils as people speculate.

He emphasized that graduates from both the Poro and Sande societies are law abiding citizens who respect societal norms and values. "They know their role in the society and they also honor their parents and the elderly," he stated.

He concluded by stating that no one is compelled to go to the sande or poro as is being said that children are being conscripted.

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