Mano people



Mano is an ethnic group that can be found in northeastern part of Liberia and some parts of Republic of Guinea

Mano people


Mano people in Liberia

The Mano ethnic group occupy the northeastern part of Liberia known as Nimba County and some parts of modern day Guinea , in the forest section of that republic. According to John Gbatu, (1919-2010), a prominent Mano tribal leader, the name Nimba originates with the Mano dialect which in Mano is Niemba Tun. The meaning is "hills on which young maidens will slip and fall".

This is so because the Mano used to worship their god up what is today known as Mt. Nimba in Liberia. They occupied major cities and towns in Niemba such as Ganta, Yekepa, Sanniquellie, and Scalepea amongst others.

According to Stanley Delano Quaye (1985-), a Liberian Historical Economist and Banker and grandson of John Gbatu, the Mano belongs to the Mande speaking group and has had a long history. He narrated that the tribe migrated from Sudan and settled in the Mali empire and subsequently to the republic of Guinea where they formed a Kingdom in the Youmou area. They later migrated to what is Liberia during the term of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, a larger portion arrived during the turn of the sixteenth and seventeen centuries.

Stanley Delano Quaye has done research in anthropology and the political structure of the Mano and Gio tribes. His noted paper discusses the political and economic governance of the tribes. The Manos are also warriors and excellent in the arts and crafts. In modern day Liberia, they occupy positions in national government, banking and engineering. They are among Liberia's best doctors and engineers.



The mano alongside their Gio (Dan) brothers descend from the Mandé peoples. They subsequently emigrated from the Mali empire and traveled to Mano/Dan land part of present day Liberia Guinea and Cote D'Ivoire at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries. They helped defend the empire against invaders from mainly North Africa. The Mano have two traditional schools: the poro for men and the sande for women.

As Christianity spread to Northern Liberia during the 19th century, many Mano abandoned their traditional practices and took to western religious groups such as the Methodist and Catholic churches. Dr. George Way Harley, a missionary from the United States settled in Ganta and started the Ganta United Mission which later grew to high schools, hospitals and colleges (the mission station now houses the Winifred J. Harley School of Nursing named after his wife). Dr. Harley was also amused by the Mano culture mask ceremony. He bought many masks from the locals and established a museum in Cleveland, United States. He died on November 7, 1966. His ashes were flown to Ganta to be buried near the mission station having spent over 35 years in Ganta.

The Mano are excellent in arts and crafts; they are also gifted musicians and farmers. Mano are also in Guinea; it is common to see Mano towns in Guinea to have similar names cultures with that of their Liberian brothers. This is why during the Liberian Civil War, most Liberian Manos were welcomed and treated with great pity and hospitality by their Guineans brothers. In fact, during the great siege of Ganta, high ranking Manos in the Guinean Army provided military aid to Mano defenders in Liberia.

Today, the region they occupied have common bustling towns in terms of trade and commerce mainly by their Dan brothers. The Manos have close culture and language similarity with the Gios (Dan). They are the two major tribes in Nimba county.



They keep cattles, goats, cows are kept and not milked even chicken eggs are never eaten on regular basis. They grow crops such as rice,  maize,  pineapple,  peppers,  beans, Okra,  Onion, Yam,  Coffee and ground nuts as well which is peanuts.

In their Culture both men and women fish using nets, baslets traps and lines also frozen fishes are bought in the market in addition they eat fish a great deal and very little meat, wild mushrooms are usually eaten with fish and It is part of their diet.


Poro Masquerades

They have poro masquerades, the guardian of poro Intiation is a beautiful tradition women masquerades, which is honored as the mother of all other masks. She gather food supplies during Intiation, It is usually owned by female elder within the Intiation center, most of the masks often diaplay red fabric decorations.

People of Liberia masks play important role connecting them to their Ancestors this means they gained knowledge and Insight into the future the mask dancer traditionally.  It is believed human Identity is not revealed to Public and In Mano tradition music and dance are very important. Manos sing and dance to honor departed souls of the dead at celebrations and weddings,  traditionally on behalf of Important visitors for fun their culture dances include mask dances which is know for its energy and passion displayed most of them their dance forms not just physical but Spiritual as well,  Mano traditional dancers use this as a way to preserve and passed down stories and traditions, folklores also played a significant role passed down from generation and the stories are very Important to the customs and traditions.