Kono people

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The Kono
[[File:Sierra Leone's current Vice President Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana and Sierra Leone's First Lady Sia Nyama Koroma are both members of the Kono ethnic group.|frameless]]
Total population
489,444 - 7% of Sierra Leone's population
Regions with significant populations

Eastern Province (particularly in Kono District) Notable Sierra Leoneans from the Kono ethnic group

Samuel Komba Kambo

Kono language
Christianity, Islam, indigenous religions.

The Kono people (pronounced koh noh) is a major ethnic group in Sierra Leone at about 7.6% of the country's total population. Their homeland is the diamond-rich Kono District in south-eastern Sierra Leone. The Kono are primarily diamond miners and farmers.

The Kono people speak the Kono language as their first language and is the most widely spoken language among the Kono people. Many youth from the Kono ethnic group use the Krio language as the primary language of communication with other Sierra Leonean ethnic groups.

Unlike many other Sierra Leonean ethnic groups, the Kono people rarely travel outside Eastern Sierra leone, as a result only few Konos are found in the capital Freetown and in northern Sierra Leone.


The Kono people are the descendants of Guinean migrants who move to Sierra Leone and settle in what is now Kono District in the mid 19th century to escape the harsh conditions in Guinea. Kono history claims that the Kono were once a powerful people in Mali and Guinea. Over three hundred years ago, the Kono immigrated to Sierra Leone as peaceful hunters. The tribe was split during partitioning of Africa by European colonists and part of the tribe still exists in neighbouring Guinea

Attacks from the related Mende people forced the Kono to seek refuge in the Koranko territory to the north, where they were allowed to farm the land. The Mende eventually moved further south, and the Kono returned to their own land in the south-east.

Economy and culture[edit]

The Kono are primarily farmers and in some areas, alluvial diamond miners. They grow rice, cassava, corn, and beans as their main crops. They live in towns and villages and travel daily to their surrounding farm lands to work. They are a polite and hospitable people and even allow strangers to lodge with them or their chiefs.

The size of rural Kono villages varies from several houses to nearly one hundred dwellings. Kono houses were at one time round constructions made of mud, clay, and thatch. Although some of these houses still exist today, those recently built are rectangular and made of adobe blocks. The rectangular houses have verandas where the women cook and others can enjoy the shade.

After sunset, in the open compounds (courtyards) of the villages, the entire village may sing. The people dance in a single file circle to the beat of drums. Each person develops his own individual steps and movements in an attempt to stand out in the crowd.

The Kono year is divided into a rainy season and a dry season. The rainy season is a time for farming. Families leave their homes early in the morning, walk to their farms,or mining site and return home at dusk. Cooking, bathing, and other household chores are done at the farms by most of the women, while the men and other women perform the agricultural or mining tasks.

After the rice harvest, the heavy agricultural work is finished, giving way to the dry season. Most people remain in town every day during the dry season since many social events take place at that time of year. During this period, young boys are initiated into the Poro society, and young girls, into the Bondo or Sande society. These societies teach youth the Kono culture and habits. Training for these organisations bridges the gap between childhood and adult life.

The dry season is also a time when much courting and many marriages take place. A man's wealth used to be determined by the number of wives he could support. Most men had more than one wife, and those men with many wives were shown the greatest respect and honour. Nowadays most men have only one wife. Also during the dry season, women organise fishing expeditions and older men may be found outdoors weaving.

Religious and spiritual beliefs[edit]

Most Konos practice Islam or Christianity. Some practise traditional religion as well. Konos invoke and pray to their ancestors and other spirits for protection, health, guidance and good fortune. They believe the ancestors are present during every activity, including eating, sleeping, and important events. Some Kono are also superstitious and use curses, omens, charms, and magic in their daily lives.

Notable Kono people[edit]

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