Women's Art and Initiation in Mendeland

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

Brides of Sande on a stroll the day after the "Pulling." Sierra Leone, April 1974. Photo by Henrietta Cosentino.


Manjia and two of her Sande sisters are on their way to visit us the first day after the "Pulling"—the first of three days during which they must sit on a prominent verandah in town, making forays out to visit friends and family. Each day they sport a new outfit, and when they go out they always carry their parasols. They still appear quite subdued, but no longer so intensely somber. I suppose that the medicines are wearing off. In two days, they will have a final ritual meal and the "Pulling" will be complete. Then three of the girls will go to live as brides (all but Manjia, whose fiancé is still far away at secondary school). They are as good as married now, but it's to Sande they've made their vows. They are brides of Sande, hanjoeisia, bonded forever to the community of women. In my heart I, wish them luck with their husbands and babies, luck with their future co-wives. (HC)