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Refusing to abide by tradition … Mariama Soriba wanted dead or alive

Refusing to abide by tradition … Mariama Soriba wanted dead or alive

Mariama Sorbia was about 14 years of age and living in Kenema when a man married with two wives told Mariama’s parents that he wanted to initiate her into the Bondo/Sandei society and would marry her after the initiation ceremony and that she was to stop going to school.

The girl ran away to one of her school friend’s family and completed her secondary education in Freetown and stayed there until 1997.  When Mariama returned to Kenema as a displaced for fear of air bombardment in Freetown by rebels, little did she know that the man she had ran away from was now the rebel commander in Kpayama/Kissy town area in Kenema.

When the commando knew that Mariama had returned with her two children, he ordered his armed rebels to arrest her and took her to their base.  At the rebel base, she was tied, gang raped by the rebels, and a few days later brought back to her mother who was the head ‘Sowei’ (chief of the Bondo society) in that area, in order to initiate her into the Bondo society because the commando found out that during the gang rape she had still not been initiated.

During the initiation ceremony, Mariama underwent two ceremonies, one as a Bondo initiate and as a ‘Sowei’ who was to eventually take over from her mother after she got old, sick or died.

It is also a tradition in Mariama’s family that the last female born automatically becomes the successor of the ‘Sowei’ and all ceremonies were performed on her during the initiation period. After her trouble, she ran again during the night with her children.  Now that her mother is sick, the Bondo elders have put pressure on Mariama including her mother for her to return to inherit her mother’s traditional title following the death of Mariama’s uncle in London last October,

Mariama has refused to return.   She has been warned that because she has taken an oath in the Bondo bush she must abide by it.  If she returns and refuses to be involved, she will be re-initiated and there are fears for her life

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