Senufo group and the secret society: Poro

The Senufo live in Mali, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Ghana. “Senufo” means “ the ones who speak Sene” . Senufo people were in the past farmers cultivating rice, corn,yams,etc.Their population is estimated to be around 600 000.

The Senoufo have a very interesting political system. It is a matrilineage society. They are four societies which educate and governs the Senufo: Poro, Sandogo, Wambele and Tyepka.We will mainly speak about the Poro society today.

The Poro society is reserved for men ( but it is good to know that apparently young girls and postmenopausal women are permitted to join) and it is a secret society. The main purpose of the Poro society is to guarantee a good relationship between the living world and the ancestors. They are responsible for the religious traditions, ceremonies and also for maintaining the order between the people.

When men are part of the Poro society, they have to go through 3 different phases of 7 years each. It generally starts when the boy are 7 years old and end when they are 28 years old. During the induction, the young men converse with each other using a secret language known only to other Poro members .

It is important to know that in the Senufo culture, when a man is born, it is only an animal and the Poro will help them to change their status.

The different phases can be broken down to:

          The “Kouord”: children are given special tasks and also learn special symbolic words.

          The “dain”: it teaches teenagers how to live in community .During this period, the teenagers are asked to make personal sacrifices. They are taught how to participate in rituals, how to prepare the ritual clothes,etc.

          The “Tcholo”: it helps in understanding the meaning of life. The elders will reveal some secrets that young men were not able to understand until this period. Young men will be taught about philosophy, social behaviours and a professional skill.

          The “Kaffono”: this gives the supreme knowledge and the final sacrament.

Once initiate, the men need to give an annual contribution. In exchange, they will receive support from the elders, they are also protected by the masters and after their death, their funerals are organized by the Poro members.

 All the initiatory ceremonies are happening in a sacred wood outside of the villages. This place is considered as the propriety of Katyéléo ( The Senufo goddess).

.The Senufo produce a rich variety of sculptures, mainly associated with the poro society. The sculptors
and metalsmiths, endogamous groups responsible for making the cult objects live on their own in a
separate part of the village.


~ by myafrikart on June 29, 2008.

One Response to “Senufo group and the secret society: Poro”

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