The Importance of Culture from the perspective of Poro Socieety

francis-portraitCulture and tradition is practiced in every region of the world, of which Africa is no exception. But what is amazing is that the belief pattern varies according to ethnicity and region. African tradition and religion-culture is an integral component of the African gradation school system that is been taught based on ethnicity and regional believe. Although there are variations in the practice, the core objective is that it serves as a basis for early childhood development and sets the standard for administrative and governing structures, especially for determining ascendency to power and enforcement of laws.  Although culture in every region of the world served as a core that ignite a value of unity and humanity in its members; however, the practice are not the same based on ethnic and region and Africa is a continent with over 33 countries with more than 350 different tribes each with  its own culture. With this in mind, this work will be more focused on the poro society cultural practice in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Poro is a male culture widely practiced among the Mende, Kissi, Lorma, Gola, Vai, Kpelle and Gbandi ethnic group in the West African sub-region. It’s an African traditional gradation school system that primarily focuses on training young men with the skill of administration, farming, hunting, fishing, caring and love. The teachers in this school don’t teach from a written manuscript instead, they orally present their lessons and the new initiates are expected to memorize.  All teachers of this school are very retentive and new initiates are graded based on their oral presentation and retentiveness. It’s a culture that teaches it members to be brave, truthful and secretive but to remain respectful to authorities and caring for humanity. The practice of poro society doesn’t involve in anyway a ritual of sacrificing human life.

But like all other cultural practices in the world, the practice of poro society has both advantages and disadvantages.  This has over the past 75-100 years kept the poro society intact and admirable among its members.

  1. Advantages of the practice of poro society include:
    • Build social network among members
    • Skill development in the area of domestic management
    • Submission to authorities and respect for each other
    • Fast thinking and retentiveness
    • Security mindedness-curious to know about who is around and what is happening around
    • Members are mostly active listeners and less talkers
    • Speaking the truth is a matter of must
    • Makes decision making easy and timely
    • Confidentiality and early self-actualization; taking on of early responsibilities
  2. Disadvantages of the practice of poro include:
    • Segregation-non initiates are in most cases not consulted and invited for meetings
    • Culture of secrecy-don’t want to discuss any issues with people who don’t have any major role to play in the planning  and execution processes of the issues
    • Reduction of one’s power-submissiveness to authorities

The combination of both the advantages and disadvantages has over the years kept the poro society sacred and has also helped to keep laws and order and stability in the society. Continue reading

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Education and thinking; A gateway to building a stronger nation

francis-portrait

I know someone is out there asking; “what is about education and thinking”?  My friend here I come to you with the answer that might not be the perfect one but it entails some details answers to your question. Education is the practice of sustaining learning, gaining of knowledge, talents, values, principles, and tradition and acquiring it involved different methods which include storytelling, dialogue, coaching, exercise, and fixed investigation. Education often takes place under the management of instructors, however, apprentices may also acquire it by themselves. Education can take place in formal or informal settings and any knowledge that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational.

Thinking can be considered as the act of generating thoughts. Proving that thought is an ultimate human activity accustomed to everyone, therefore, there is no commonly known covenant to details as to what thought is or how it can be generated.

The fact is that thought triggers many human activities and collaborations, ranging from its fleshly and abstract heritages, methods, and effects has remained an enduring objective for numerous disciplines.

Thinking provides the humans with the ability to sort logic of, construe, characterize, perfect the ecosphere and make forecasts about what they experience. Hence, it’s indeed helpful to  human as a guiding tool for setting up needs, goals, wishes and as tool for  making the agenda  in the pursue of accomplishing every dreams.

In every region of the world and with every human, development starts with thinking and education. When the citizens of a country become positively thoughtful, they will become patriotic and educated and will be adequately informed about their government. Thus, their ability to monitor, investigate and make the government functions adequately and more pro-actively will become easy and the affairs of the citizenry will be considered as a priority by the government. Adequate information sharing and quality education are very much cardinal to the growth of any country.

However, this need to be put into a context so that its fits into the cultural dimension of a region or country in-order that the people who are perceived to be the ultimate beneficiaries can easily understand the methodological approach. Once you connect a new idea to what someone previously know, learning will become easy.

When a leader of any country provides quality education and build policies that are developmental friendly, transformation and growth will force its way into that country. The way you think influences your behavior and the way you behavior helps to direct your destiny. One of the core reasons for Liberia’ 14 years war was triggered by our thought patterns.

To the citizens in general, self-esteem, integrity and personal accountability should be the core guide in the quest for quality education. Building a social capital is vital in actualizing development. More coordination and networking among different kinds of professionals and sector is the bed rock and the road map through which ideas can easily be cross pollinated and solution can be found to those problems that existed before.

About the Author:

Francis Egu Lansana is a civil society leader in Liberia. He works for Accountability Lab Liberia. His passion for community participation, governance and development is inspired by humanitarian groups and the world leaders who strive for global stability. He studied Sociology and Political Science at the University of Liberia. He has written several articles including his recent article on “Media for Change Makers” published by Peace Journalist Magazine in the USA and other media institutions like the bush chicken and  heritage news paper.

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