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.

Sande masquerade performances are greatly enlivened by another Sande masquerade, a clown-like character known as gonde. In her appearance and performance, gonde turns the standards of correct behavior and appearance that characterize the ndoli jowei inside out. The gonde's headpiece is either a broken and discarded sowei mask that—because imperfect—can no longer be used to represent the Sande spirit or one carved specifically as a grotesque. The surface is dusty, smeared with paint and adorned with old junk—it lacks the dark colour of water and the lustre and polish of health and perfection. (RP)