Kiiton Press

Some Notes on Mah People

October 10, 2013

         A Brief History of How the Mah People Got Misnamed "Mano People"

The Mah people have always called themselves Mah mia which means, Mah people.  As early as the 1500's, the Kpelle and Mah people arrived in what is now called Liberia in search of a safe haven from the wars and drought in the western Sudanese Kingdom that was turning into a desert land.  The settlers from America arrived in 1822 and settled along the seacoast, Cape Palmas, Sinoe,  Harbel, Monrovia and other places.

     Liberia established authority in the Jorkwille Kpelle country in 1920. The first Liberian government-sponsored conference of chiefs in Kpelle country was in 1925.*
    In 1926, the year Firestone arrived in Liberia, some good Methodist Episcopal Church Missionaries, Dr. George Way Harley and his wife, Winifred J. Harley, arrived in Gompa, in the Mah country and started a Christian Mission station there,
 focusing on healthcare, education, and the Christian Ministry. They built a hospital, a school and a church. 

     After the 1920 conference in the Kpelle country, many Kpelle people were appointed by the Liberian government to work in the Mah country.  Some of them were surveyors, soldiers, clerks and civil service people. When they learned that the Mah people were
called Mah people, the Kpelle government officials and authorities started calling the Mah people, "Maa nu."

      The word, "Nu", in the Kpelle language means, people or person(s). With the passage of time, the expression "Maa nu" gradually changed to "Mano."  It was not an intentional effort on the part of the Kpelle people to call the Mah people "Mano" or change their name to something else.

       They were using their ethnic nomenclature to describe the Mah people; but unfortunately, the Kpelle expression stuck.  Even before the arrival of the settlers from America, the Kpelle people called the Mah people "Maa nu."

      But the name stuck as more and more people in Liberia came in contact with the Mah people and used the Kpelle nomenclature, "
Maa nu" to refer to the Mah people. This is an unfortunate historical misnomer, or misnaming; an unacceptable nomenclature.  Mah people should not be called Mano People. 

        They are not Mano people, they are Mah people and they speak the Mah language that is called “Mahwè.   Mahwè means, Mah language, Mah speech, or Mah talk.  The Mah people do not speak Mah, they speak Mahwè.**

       Kpelle people did not only misname the Mah people, they also changed the names of some of our towns to suit their Kpelle naming system for towns. In the Kpelle language, town is called "ta." Example: 
 Totota, Kakata, and so on.  Instead of calling Gompa, the name by which the local Mah people have always called their town, Gompa, the Kpelle people called it "Ganta.” The town is not Ganta, it is called “Gompa.”  “Pa” in the Mah language means “home” or “one’s town.”  Gompa is now nationally known as Ganta, very unfortunate. 

          The Kpelle people also misnamed Tappiplé as the locals call it in the Daan language.  The Kpelle people changed the name to “Tappita”.  Sanniquillie is no exception.  The local Mah people call the city, Saingbein, which means, “the Sain people’s quarter.” [The Sain people are those who belong to the Totem and Taboo clan called, Sain mia. They do not eat rain deer, eddoes, dogs, and a few other prohibitions]. 

        In the Kpelle language, “quillie” means quarter. They called the town, Sanniquillie, and the name stuck.

These Kpelle nomenclatures are repugnant.  We must now begin to use the names the local people call themselves and the names they call their cities and towns. These Kpelle misnomers and nomenclatures should now be rejected outright.


*For the Chronology, see John Gay, (1973:vii), Red Dust on the Green Leaves. Yarmouth, Maine, Intercultural Pre. Inc.

**For the early history of the Mah, Daan, Kpelle and other peoples of  the Liberian Hinterland, see George Schwab and George W. Harley (1947) Tribes of the Liberian Hinterland. Vol. XXXI Cambridge, Massachusetts, Report of the Peabody Museum Expedition to Liberia. Harvard University Press.

Who are the Mah People of Liberia?

What are they Actually Called?


Most people in Liberia refer to the
   Mah people as the “Mano” People. 

There is no such a thing as "Mano" People.  
This blog is about the Mah people's
Cosmology as well as their Epistomology: 

It discusses, not necessarily in this order:  The Mah Culture, Tradition, Language, Religion, Ethics, Theology, Anthropology, Sociology, Economics, Traditional Educational System, History and Politics.
There are 
reflections on family structure, Traditional industries,
Agriculture, Mythology, and
their Arts and Crafts.
Fine Arts and other Mah Traditional Symbols will be included.

The Mah People call themselves
MAH MIA, not "Mano Mia."
The Mah language is a language,
not a dialect or a tribe.

Mah people are of the
Mah Ethnic group in Liberia.
They live in Nimba County.

They prefer to be called Mah people,
not Mano People
                     Nimba County
Now go to Mah History and Language, click here:
Information on these pages have been consolidated in a scholarly manner.  We expect our readers to use the information in the best possible ways they can.  However, remember that no part of these blogs may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including any information storage or retrieval system without citing this source or giving appropriate credit.  All information here are under copyright laws.

Jesus Film made possible in the Mah Language


Kelekele by Cooper Quoibia, James Gartei and the
Gban Jungle City Band (Music in the Mah language)
Side picture.  This is a basket women hang on their side to store fish when
fishing in the river with nets. Fish storing basket.  It is called

 Below is a fishing net women use for fishing. It is                                                                                                                  called, Duɔnɔ´

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