“The Putu people are not a distinct people, but are part of the Krahn of the Kru group.” (Liberian Bureau of Folkways.) However, the Putu were once a more powerful and numerous people than they are today, and incline to regard themselves as a group in their own right.
The following is one of the various legends which describes their origin:
In centuries gone by a people known as the Sabo lived in the Sudan. There came a time when, inspired by hunger and a desire for new and better land, and the need for salt, this group began moving southwest towards the sea; their leader was a warrior called Saydi.
They crossed rivers and mountains and penetrated deep into a region of thick forests, fighting hostile peoples as they advanced.
When they came to fertile land on the eastern edge of the river known today as the Cavally, one clan of the Sabo settled there. This was the Flebo clan, which prospered. Another clan settled at the Southern limits of Tchien land; this was the Zela clan.
The Sabo were weakened by the loss of these two clans, but when they met the Drebo people they fought with them and pushed them south. The Sabo failed to reach the sea for the groups between them and the coast were strong and well-established; They therefore occupied the Drebo land which they had won by conquest.
A certain stream called Putu creek ran through the middle of this land; the Sabo took this as their place-name, and became known as the People of Putu Creek, or the Putu.
(An alternate theory is that “putu” meant “cost nothing,” and the land was thus called because it had not been paid for.)
The Zela, Flebo and Putu peoples remain a pure and loyal brotherhood, and no man among them may look upon the blood of any kinsman. Any member of these groups may walk into his kinsman’s house to sleep, to eat, to live; and if he fancies any object he may take it without question.