By Alfred Koroma
The National Council of Paramount Chiefs (NCPC) has in a press release expressed dissatisfaction against what they described as disrespectful, sarcastic and ignorant statements made on both social and mainstream media against the Bondo Society (femal genitile mutilation).
The Chiefs noted that statements made on the media against the country’s female secret society have the tendency to put the dignity of women into the mud of disrespect and jeopardize stability in their chiefdoms.
The chiefs condemned the trends of public discussions against the secret society and warned those engage into it to abstain.
“As custodians of traditions and culture through constitutionally protected customary law, we condemn the ongoing trend of these public discussions and urge all those concerned to desist forthwith,” the chiefs said in their press statement.
There is currently no law against the time-honoured tradition of secret societies in Sierra Leone, they said, reminding the public that it is only they (the chiefs) in consultation with Government, that have the mandate to regulate traditional practices in Sierra Leone.
Bondo Society is one of the basic and secret societies in Sierra Leone with strong political influence. By tradition, all women are required to get initiated into the society before marital settlement. During initiation, it is believed that women and girls are trained various domestic skills that guide them in caring for their husbands, bringing up their offspring and handling other home affairs.
There is a personal prestige attached to being a member of the Society which non-members do not enjoy. And in typical traditional settings, it is disapproving for any woman to abstain from being a member.
But religious beliefs coupled with campaigns against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) have posed serious threats to the existence of the once revered traditional society. FGM campaigners believe initiation into the secret society has health implications and considers it harmful.