Dreadful Traditional Practice Haunts Liberian Family of Seven

MONROVIA, LIBERIA – Practices of horrendous life experience bordering on genital mutilations, forceful incarceration of mostly women, girls and men into sande and poro societies and the issues of rape and sodomy also against women, girls, boys and even babies continue to remain unabated in Africa, and Liberia is no exception.

Despite signing up to international protocols to abolish these practices that hinder one’s rights and religious belief, a Liberian family of seven, and a resident of Monrovia, has reported its terrible ordeal as far as these vices are concern. Narrating his ordeal and his wife’s dreadful story to the media, Mr. Olu Kanwee (not real name), a 47 year old and a father of five children said: “My wife is the first born of her parents; she has been worried and been terrified since 2017 when her mother, Parleh Nyondueh (not real name), 69, engaged her that the traditional authorities of her mother’s Juquepor Clan, in Sasstown, Grand Kru County, of Southeastern Liberia, were ready to turn over the mantle of authority of the Clan to her”. 

18 years old Abrahim, mentally deranged is lying around in an abandoned building in the community.

Filled with sorrow and depression, his 41-year-old wife and a mother, Snogba Kanwee (not real name), explained her ordeal to her husband. His wife’s mother told her: “My daughter, I have a secret to tell you. Because I wouldn’t recover anymore so I wish to inform you we have the ‘Gblea’ Society in Sasstown that is guarded by the gods we worship, and sacrifices are made to it from generation to generation; my great grandparents in the 1800s became heirs to this Clan,” This took place one afternoon when she visited her mom on her hospital bed side. 

“This was a hard decision for her to make, but many sacrifices had been made by many people including her mother to the gods for succession. It was her mother’s turn to recommend – so she was chosen but she begged her mother to not accept the decision. Although she loved her mother, she told her mom, absolutely no, that she will not accept being a successor to her because of her religious belief and faith in the Almighty God as Light has nothing to do with Darkness”.

Despite Olu’s personal intervention to have the issue settled based on their religious belief shortly before his mother-in-law, Parleh Nyondueh’s death, he went on to explain, “Before my wife, Snogba Kanwee, my mother-in-law’s family deliberately refused and issued threats which could result in harming the entire family due to any attempt to continuously refuse”. 

When she finally died on January 1, 2018 in Monrovia, and was taken to her traditional village, Juquepor Clan, in Sasstown, Grand Kru County, where she was buried, as tradition demands, following the burial, at the ceremony of hair cutting of the family, the traditional leaders of the clan finally descended on my wife – this was physical, to reinforce their demand on her. 

“The elders outlined their request to her – they included a sacrifice of one of our children and to commit herself to perform the genital organ mutilation as well as the human blood bathing ceremony – all to be done in 90 days”.

Her response to the elders was that we beg for time and to be back in honoring the ceremony leading to her ascendancy to the chieftaincy. “Devastatingly, upon our return to Monrovia, two weeks later, she sent word informing the traditional leaders respectfully that because of her faith and commitment to God Almighty, she pleaded with them and informed them that she could not take on the role; this they saw as defiance, and threatened that her family’s life will remain miserable while she will be monitored as they make sure we don’t leave the country until she can surrender to the demands of the gods”, 

Olu Kanwee said. “The refusal has since led our family to experience traditional and spiritual attacks and threats, with strange happenings leaving our 18-year-old son, Ibrahim, mentally ill. The mysterious happenings and unforeseen situations therefore forced my wife and I to take a painful decision to report our ordeal to police in June 2020 – seeking for advice and solution but to no avail.” 

Mr. Kanwee said because of the messages and mounting threats and physical attacks, his entire family has had nightmares causing his wife to almost commit suicide in January 2018. 

The situation also has recently forced them to relocate outside of their previous Bushrod Island Community, in Monrovia, to an unknown location in the City. Equally so disturbed and looking wretched, Mr. Kanwee said, 

“The intense pressure, intimidation and frustration regretfully forced my wife to abandon her family and left the country under disguise for a long time. Today, I continue to experience nightmares, even in our new hideout, and despite our son’s mental state due to my wife’s refusal to honor a traditional chieftaincy request; she has left me and the children and gone, causing my life to remain in disarray”, Mr. Kanwee stressed. Article by Jos Garneo Cephas Sr.

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