Late in the afternoon, the steady beating of drums along with shouts and cheers announced the arrival of a special visitor at the camp gates.
In the center of the large crowd, dancing to the beat of the drum, was the Kono Musu…
a dancing devil.
I have seen dancing devils in Sierra Leone before, but this is the first time that one has come up to the camp. He was stamping his feet and waving raffia bundles in the air as another man brandished his “witch gun” which is considered an instrument of sorcery and is said to be able to knock a man down without making a noise
Among all members of society, the belief in magic is strong. The dancing devil is not necessarily a depiction of evil, as one might imagine, instead a representation of an important spirit, of whom people want to stay on the good side. To do this, people will make their ritual offerings.
The costumed figure ushers in a celebration of kinship amongst the community. Each tribe has its own devil, which usually comes out for specific days by dancing through the villages. We are in the Kono District, thus the name Kono Musu (which translates to Kono Woman).
As a show of respect for the celebration, we gave a bit of money and in return we got a dance.
This devil had some moves.
And, with that, the procession left as quickly as it had come.