The administration of Nimba County headed by Superintendent David Dorr Cooper has fined members of the Poro Society, a traditional bush school for forcibly initiating a pastor of the Liberia Inland Church in the county.
The Poro Society forcibly enrolled 45-year-old Pastor Joseph Saye recently into the traditional institution in Leesonnoh Kpaikoah town, electoral district#8, prompting protest from the Church.
County Inspector Reginald Mehn imposed a fine of 10,000 Liberian Dollars on executives of the Poro for executing the forceful initiation.
Pastor Saye was arrested by members of the Poro recently and taken in, but the Inland Church complained to government, demanding his immediate release.
County Inspector Mehn also fined the Christian community in Nimba for taking the issue on the airwave in public discussions.
Activities of the Poro (male) and Sende (female) are traditionally held sacred, and not to be discussed in public, but government has emphasized initiation should be voluntary.
The county authority has also suspended 30 chiefs for their handling of the situation, and suspended all activities of traditional institutions, specifically the Poro and Sende until otherwise.
Inspector Mehn says the penalties are in line with regulation from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which oversees traditional rituals here.
Meanwhile, it is not clear whether members of the Poro would yield to the demand from the church and release Pastor Saye or keep him to complete his studies.
This paper gathers that despite Ministry of Education’s mandate for schools across the country to open on September 3, for 2018-2019 academic period, school-age kids in Nimba are being forcibly initiated in Poro and Sende societies, traditional schools for male and females, creating problems in the county.
Recently, County Education Officer Moses S. Dologbay called on those involved in such practices to desist as they were obstructing the kids’ education process.
In the traditional schools, both children and adults are taught basic family leadership and home upkeep, norms and values, including responsibilities for husbands and wives.
By Thomas Domah/Nimba–Editing by Jonathan Browne