Women's Art and Initiation in Mendeland

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

Four ndoli joweisia and a gonde masker at an ndahiti dance at Bandajuma Kovegbuami, Small Bo, Kenema, Sierra Leone. Photo by Ruth Phillips.


Sande undertakes one of the most important of social tasks, the transference to each new generation of girls of the knowledge they will need to perform their roles as adult Mende women. Sande teaching includes instruction in the duties and privileges of women, correct behavior, the care of the body, practical skills, and artistic accomplishments. Girls are taught about proper relations with husbands and co-wives, sexual behavior, childbirth, child rearing, and more. Sande initiates also receive formal training in singing, dancing, and musicianship. (RP)