IndexAfricaSierra Leone → Kuranko

(Kuranko, Mende, Poro

According to Jackson (1977:p95)[1], betrothal before birth or in early infancy was usual. The girls wear a red thread around their waist to signify this status. Marriage follows immediately after initiation after puberty (Jackson, 1975:p395)[2]. During the seclusion after girls’ initiation ceremony (dimusu biriye), the end of childhood, they receive instruction on “domestic, sexual and moral matters” from older women while waiting for their clitoridectomy scars to heal (Jackson, 1983:p330)[3].


“[…] most marriages are based on infant betrothal and there is usually a great age difference between a man and his junior wives […]. Infant betrothal was traditionally the most usual kind of marriage among the Kuranko. In the years immediately before her initiation, a betrothed girl spends brief periods in her prospective husband's household to become accustomed to the people among whom she will pass the early years of her married life. But adjustment to married life is not easy. A young bride may occupy a subordinate position in her husband's household, under the supervision of her mother-in-law or senior co-wife, and her husband may be old and quite indifferent to her. I was often told that some girls cry and hang back when the time comes for the formalities of the marriage to be concluded. The transfer of rights in genetricem and in uxorem is regarded as absolute and in perpetuity, and a young bride must face the prospect of severing many sentimental as well as formal ties with her natal family” (Jackson, 1982:p14, 145)[4].


















Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1]Jackson, M. (1940) The Kuranko. London: Hurst

[2]Jackson, M. D. (1975) Structure and Event: Witchcraft Confession Among the Kuranko, Man, New Series 10,3:387-403

[3]Jackson, M. (1983) Knowledge of the Body, Man, New Series 18, 2:327-45

[4]Jackson, M. (1982) Allegories of the Wilderness: Ethics and Ambiguity in Kuranko Narratives. Bloomington: Indiana University Press