18 May 2017

Liberia: 'Boakai Joins Poro Society'

Photo: UN News Centre
Joseph Boakai, Vice-President of Liberia

Vice President Joseph Boakai seems not to be leaving any stone unturned in his attempt to succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as President of Liberia in January 2018. Reports this paper gathered revealed that Veep Boakai is not only crisscrossing the country and receiving plethora of support, but also touching basis with traditional people to provide accommodations for him culturally.

While in Bong County recently, Veep Boakai reportedly visited a Poro society bush where he was admitted as member. The exercise went on, according to the report, a day before citizens of Bong, one of the heavily traditional-inspired counties in the country, pledged unflinching support to his presidential bid.

Poro and Sande, two of the leading societies in Liberia, are practiced in Bong and other counties, especially Lofa, the birthplace of the vice president. Poro society is a famous traditional society for boys and men, practiced by large numbers of the 16 tribes of Liberia, mainly in the north, central, central-south of Liberia. The report did not say what the intent behind the vice president's decision is, but most presidential contenders reportedly do it as sign of support for Liberian culture. It is believed that joining any society - poro, sande or any other - gives them ancestral blessings and also boosts their connections with the rural (traditional) people of the country.

In 2005, the presidential candidate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf went through similar orientation when she was ushered into society bush in Banjor, Lower Virginia by group of women.

The owners subjected her to all of the formalities associated with their practice. In 2005, Presidential Contender George Weah of the Congress for Democratic (CDC), was reportedly initiated into bush society in Grand Gedeh County. Footage of the initiation ceremony cascaded the landscape as it became a hot political debate.

Vice Pres. Boakai reportedly went through rigorous process of becoming a member of the Society. In Liberia, poro and sande has become a political tool, considering international pressure for them to be abolished.

Robert Kpadeh Comments

However, in reaction to the reports, Robert Kpadeh of the Boakai support group, said the Vice president cannot in anyway be reinitiated as claimed. According to him, the vice president is a traditional man who believes in the culture of his people as evident by several visits to the elders to discuss matters of concern relating to the land and its people.

"He is a respecter of culture and tradition. He loves his people and the tribe Kissi means poro. He joined more than 70 years ago. So he cannot be reinitiated into the poro," he said.

"As an uncle by way of the tradition, it is a regular thing that he does every time, so it is far from joke that he has been reinitiated into the poro. Poro is the biggest in the Kissi tradition,"

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