HISTORY OF THE MANO
Liberia’s Excellent Hunters
The Mano are mainly found in the northern region of Liberia and in southern Guinea. There are approximately 515,000 Mano people in the world, most of whom primarily live in Nimba County, Liberia. Mano has many dialects that are part of the Eastern branch of the Mande languages. They strongly identify themselves with the Gio tribe, who they consider their "small brothers.” Both the Gio and Mano languages are also closely related.
Between the 17th and 18th centuries, the Mano, along with other Mande-speaking peoples, such as the Gio and Kono, all migrated from the north and settled in Guinea. Later they migrated to Liberia when the French began occupying Guinea.
Like the Gio, the Mano are also farmers who clear their lands annually to grow crops. These crops include staples such as rice, cassava, peanuts, and sweet potatoes as well as cocoa, coffee, and rubbers. They raise livestock such as cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, and pigs. These animals are eaten only during special and ritual occasions involving much feasting.
During harvest time, the Mano use temporary huts as their resting place on their farms. After planting, sacrifices and medicines are made to ensure a good harvest; fences surrounds the farmland to keep away threatening animals.
The Mano women are responsible for weeding the fields. They are also given a piece of land to grow household crops such as pineapple, peppers, beans, okra, onion, maize, and bananas. Over all, both the women and men are excellent hunters and fishers.
The Mano people live in small towns, which are located on high grounds with creeks nearby, close to their farms. They live in small, square houses made of clay to keep out rain. These houses are placed closely together in communities ranging from tens to several hundred individuals.
Most Mano people are animalists, believing that non-human objects have spirits. They also believe that goblins (small men) are ghosts who not only live in the bush but have friendly relationships with people—unless these people clear the land they call home. There are also some Mano who are Christians who believe that “Wala,” or God, is the creator that lives in heaven.