Analecta: “Maybe The Society Is In Chaos.”
Gbango! Yema! Thunder peels so loudly!
It’s been said there’s no beating in the Sande enclosure;
Why then is Kema wailing so?
Maybe the Society is in chaos then.**
Salia Koroma, Fishing for Our Father.
** Salia uses subtle language to raise cultural and societal issues, topics that would normally be off-limit to men, on the one hand, and to non-politicians on the other hand (and it’d have taken a fearless–maybe suicidal–politician to have broached such topics in 1980 Sierra Leone). Talking about what goes on in the Sande Society is something a man would do in Mendeland at his own risk. But Salia, by posing a question, bypasses whatever cultural ban there may be on men talking about it. He starts out by telling the two women, Gbango and Yema, about the thunder claps. It’s only relevant as information if the phenomenon is happening on a clear, dry season day. Is something out of the ordinary happening? And the question is prefaced by what women have always said: there’s no corporal punishment in the Sande. Salia is taking them up on that truism to ask a very trenchant question. Why the cries from Kema? (Kema being the ritual name of the first initiate of any batch of girls into the Sande/Bondo.) Has something earth-shattering (the equivalent Mende expression being “sky-rending”/”lightning bolt”) happened?
The question extends to the larger Sierra Leonean society. If 1980s Sierra Leone is going well, why is everyone grumbling? Can Salia hazard an answer? Perhaps not the fire-brand kind of unsubtle lyrics a younger generation would come to demand from their artists?