Women's Art and Initiation in Mendeland

by Ruth Phillips, Henrietta Cosentino and Rebecca Busselle
(R.P.) Carleton University

gonde tries to interfere with a performance of a ndoli jowei, but the Sande officials push her away. Ngiyehun, Luawa, Kailahun, Sierra Leone. Photo by Ruth Phillips.

The gonde's body costume can be any color; it and her tattered raffia only partially cover her, clearly revealing the human being underneath. She brazenly begs for money, parades raucously and sometimes drunkenly around. Lacking all beauty, all self-composure, and all dignity, she is the opposite of what Sande teaches Mende women to be. In laughing at arid appreciating the nature of her transgressions, the audience appreciates all the more clearly the ideal that the sowei represents. (RP)