Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Amos J. Beyan

Second Advisor

Dr. Bruce M. Haight

Third Advisor

Dr. Mitch Kachun

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Onaiwu W. Ogbomo


Relying on oral accounts and archival and published sources, this dissertation employed interdisciplinary methodology to examine change and continuity in traditional Bandi systems to 1964. It focuses on traditional Bandi social, religious, economic and political systems that changed and those that persisted as a result of contacts with neighboring ethnic groups, Islam, Christianity, and the Liberian state.

The Bandi of northwestern Liberia are divided into six subgroups. Nevertheless, the six subgroups of Bandi share common traditional values. The Bandi people belong to the Mande-linguistic group and share common traditional values with neighboring Mande speakers such as the Loma and Mende. The Bandi also have a lot in common with non- Mande speakers such as the Kissi, Belle and Gola.

Islam was introduced in Bandi society in the late nineteenth century, and the Liberian state and Christianity made contacts with Bandiland in the early twentieth century. Although they promoted change, Islam, Christianity and the Liberian state also enhanced cultural and social continuity in Bandi society.

Islam introduced new social values such as Ramadan, Muslim education and Arabic names in Bandi society, while the Liberian state and Christianity introduced western values such as formal education, monogamous marriage, legal systems, elections and taxation. Despite these external influences, aspects of Bandi cultural and social values persisted.

Overall, the study demonstrates that Islam, Christianity, the Liberian state, and Bandi cultural and social systems brought about change and continuity in Bandi society during the period under study.


5th Advisor: Dr. Michael Nassaney

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access