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The Dancing Devils of Liberia 

© Conor Beary

Dancing Devils represent different tribal demons and deities that are worshipped by people in the Poro (men) and Sande (women) community who worship and celebrate traditional beliefs and practices. The Poro and Sande community and religions pre date the introduction of Christianity into West Africa, the term Devils (Dancing Devils) was coined by the introduction of Christianity into West Africa and the demonisation of any other belief systems other than Christianity.

The Poro and Sande community are highly secretive communities who are shrouded in mystery and it takes an initiation process to become a member. Some issues surrounding practices used in the initiation processes are under scrutiny from government and foreign aid bodies, pushing these communities further and further to the sideline, and sending these practices ‘underground’. Dancing Devils effectively represent different tribes and each individually have different messages and personalities, followed by long running folklore stories about their journeys, stories and exploits. It is common to see Dancing devils performing around particular calendar events.

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