As usually the case, the Gbangbani secret society as practiced in the northern parts of Sierra Leone mostly by the Limba tribe, over the years, has seen youths exile themselves, escaping forced initiation or face death threats.
Sierra Leoneans ultimately have timelessly crossed borders of especially African countries where obviously similar cultural practices exist, seeking refuge in countries far away home as they find safer havens, no doubt staying away from cult initiation or death.
Merely two months ago, Joseph Sobia Sesay, a descendant of Fadugu Town in the northern district of Koinadugu, Sierra Leone, narrowly escaped initiation after being chased by Gbangbani secret society members, a society his late father had served as Chief Priest.
They say Joseph, in utter denial, challenged the membership of the secret society that he is a Christian and do not have any interest becoming a member of a secret society, not even the Gbangbani society where his father had acted as head.
This, we are told, angered the membership who likewise promised vengeance on Joseph for putting religion above their secret cultural values.
Joseph’s case was compelling of the membership of the secret society because his father was a former Chief Priest and that as the heir, it is but undeniable that he respects traditional callings or face death.
That his escape angered society members and as a result has caused them (society members) aggressively search for him (Joseph) in the township and in bushes including neighbouring towns.
Some young men who have no interest in such an uncultured secret society are said to have been in fear over vengeance meted fugitive Joseph by society members for his refusal to be initiated after the death of his father.
Family members (who also are strong society members) have also had unrelenting moments galvanizing associate society members go after aiders of escapee Joseph, to possibly deal with them for allowing their son (Joseph) escaped and not be a part of one of their inherited cultural values.
Sources say Mohamed, a tailor by profession, aided Joseph to escape prior to the planned initiation ceremony.
Mohamed and family members are reportedly being harassed, tortured and have been put under constant threat by society members even as they continue their search for Joseph.
It is not known whether Joseph has found safety in a foreign country or is still in bushes around Fadugu town hiding.
The Gbagbani society is the oldest of powerful secret societies in Sierra Leone.
It plays greater role in the politics and decision making at provincial levels.