The Bandi

Old Bandi myths refer to a large inland area of water as being the place of origin of the Bandi, and state that they came to Liberia from that point several centuries ago. Their legends would seem to allude to Lake Chad; but Paramount Chief Jallah of the Bandi describes the movement of the Bandi as having been generally southward from some undetermined point far north in what is now French territory. There is evidence that they did come from the North, forced by war or lured by hopes of salt and conquest.

Tribal legend says that Ngala (God) made the first of the Bandi in the form of a mighty chief called Yallawalla. Presumably Yallawalla had a wife, or wives, for he fathered a powerful son called Harlingi; Harlingi had many, many children, and these became the Bandi.

When the Bandi moved south much serious fighting was involved. The Kissi arrived before the Bandi, also from the North, and a terrible battle took place between the Kissi and the Bandi some time after the Bandi arrived. The dispute, Jallah alleges, developed in the following manner:

The Zoes, or medicine men, claimed that they possessed more power than anyone else among the Bandi. The liars said this was not true, and when no one would believe them they decided they would demonstrate their powers. A liar went to the Kissi and told their chief that the Bandi were preparing to make war on them, and that they should gather a strong army to defend themselves. He then returned to the Bandi Chief and declared the Kissi were preparing a strong army to attack the Bandi:

But a Bandi Zoe threw medicine on the liar and no one believed him.

The liar hurried off to an unknown neighboring people and told their chief that the Kissi were preparing to attack them. That group sent spies and saw the Kissi preparing an army. The nameless group took the initiative and marched against the Kissi, and thus a great battle developed. All the Bandi Zoes pooled their powers but could not stop he fight; inevitably the Bandi tribe was drawn in, other tribes became involved, and finally so many warriors were killed that no one could think of anything better to do than go home, and no one knew what the fight had been about anyway.

The liars had proved their point, but had nearly destroyed their tribe.

WRITTEN BY: Patrick