Man & Family Escape from Traditional Secret Society Practice; Community Seeks Their Return

Ernest O Kanu and Isatu Kanu.jpg
Ernest O Kanu and Isatu Kanu

By Foday Moriba Conteh

News reaching this medium has revealed that, one man, named Ernest O Kanu, escaped with his pregnant fiancée and their daughter from the Fiancée Family Traditional Secret Society Cultural Practice, known as the Female Bondo Society. The Soweis of the Female Secret Society and the elders of the Men Secret Society are working together, both traditionally and spiritually, to bring them back. The Kenema district police units have also been informed about this case.

According to our investigation, after the death of Ya Koloneh Fatmata Turay, the mother of Isatu Kanu who happens to be the fiancée of the man and the head of the Family Cultural and Traditional Female Secret Society in Kenema District, has brought about a tragedy for Isatu Kanu and her daughter of which the story of Isatu Kanu, her daughter Halimatu Kanu, and her fiancé Ernest O Kanu has been circulating in the community.

According to one of the councils of Sowei elders from the society, Mariama Sandi who spoke to this medium on the complete story that led to this disrespectful escape.

She said they understand that Isatu Kanu’s family originally came from Nyandeyama Road in the District of Kenema but they were residing at 555 Lumpa Waterloo in Isatu Kanu’s mother’s house, including Isatu, her fiancé, her daughter, her son (Isatu’s little brother), and Isatu’s late mother, adding that Isatu’s mother was a prominent Sowei and traditional healer in Sierra Leone, holding the title of Ya Koloneh De Sowei, which means the head of the Soweis in her secret society. She was the leader of one of the largest female Traditional Secret Societies in Kenema.

She maintained that on September 1st, 2022, Isatu’s mother was found dead, having drowned herself in the water well in the family compound at 555 Lumpa Waterloo. The traditional society elders in Kenema requested the immediate release of the deceased body for burial according to their customs and traditions. They also requested the presence of Isatu Kanu and her daughter Halimatu for other traditional ceremonial rituals.

She said the burial ceremony took place on September 3rd, 2022, and it was scheduled as a night ceremonial event due to specific traditional rituals that needed to be performed before and after the burial. Pregnant Isatu was present with her fiancé Ernest Kanu, and their uncircumcised daughter Halimatu Kanu.

However, during the traditional burial ceremony, Isatu, along with other circumcised women and girls, including the Soweis, were inside the Secret Society, singing their traditional songs while the Soweis performed traditional rituals on the body of the deceased elder, Ya Koloneh Fatmata Turay.

They gave pregnant Isatu a calabash containing traditional medicine to drink, causing her to lose consciousness while preparing her for the coronation ceremony and the circumcision of her daughter Halimatu.

Isatu was then asked to be ready to take the oath and the crown of her late mother to become the new Ya Koloneh, the head of the Soweis in the Society, responsible for circumcising her daughter Halimatu and other women and girls in the future.
Before the oath-taking and coronation process began, they asked Isatu to bring her uncircumcised daughter Halimatu to the Bondo Society bush for immediate circumcision after Isatu’s coronation ceremony.

Pregnant Isatu explained everything to the child’s father, Ernest, while accompanied by an elderly Sowei. However, Ernest objected to the practice and insisted that they escape immediately. The Sowei overheard their conversation and rushed to call the other elders to prevent their escape.
When they all arrived, they discovered that Ernest had escaped with Isatu and their daughter by jumping through the window. The Soweis immediately dispatched some members from the male secret society to search for them.

It was revealed that during the search, a member of the male secret society spotted them, and Ernest engaged in a fight, striking the man with a stick. The man fell to the ground and was unable to pursue them, but he called for assistance from other members. Ernest then took hold of Isatu’s hand and carried their daughter as they continued to flee.

Since then, their whereabouts have remained unknown. The family members, the Men’s Secret Society, and the Female Secret Society are collaboratively employing traditional and spiritual methods to locate Ernest, Isatu, and their daughter.

They desire for Ernest to face severe traditional consequences, including compulsory initiation into the men’s secret society (Poro) and enduring intense punishment for fighting their members and disrespecting the will of the female traditional society elders. They also intend for Isatu to carry on her mother’s traditional work, encompassing the entirety of the Bondo secret society practice and the traditional healing process, while Halimatu undergoes traditional rituals as her mother’s heir, ensuring the continuation of the family’s traditional legacy.

The Men’s Secret Society (Poro Society) has filed a complaint against Ernest with the community elders due to his altercation with one of their society members. Consequently, Ernest is wanted by the Male Security Society as well.

The society and community elders are utilizing all their traditional powers to locate and repatriate Isatu and her family. The Kenema District Police have reached out to other police forces both domestically and internationally, sharing the family’s photographs and information with various police units.

The story of Isatu Kanu and her daughter Halimatu Kanu has sparked a community discussion regarding the practice of female genital mutilation. While members of the Bondo Society perceive it as a rite of passage, human rights advocates view it as a harmful practice that should be eradicated.


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