The Political Structures and Functions of Poro in Kpelle Society1


  • 1

    The fieldwork upon which much of this paper is based was carried out in 1966-67 while the author was teaching in Cuttington College, Liberia. I am indebted to Dr. John Gay for his aid and encouragement while in Liberia. I would also like t o thank Prof. Jacque Maquet for helpful comments on an early version of this work. To present a unified time sense in the presentation of this material I have used the anthropological present tense. No Kpelle area now operates in the manner herein described.


This article is an attempt to establish not only that (1) the persistence of Kpelle culture is due to the effectiveness of Poro organization, but that (2) the political organization of Kpelle Chiefdoms is shaped largely by Poro influence and that, though culturally pervasive, even dominant, (3) the Poro is organizationally a localized phenomenon with no Kpelle-wide unity of organization.