Location: North-eastern Liberia and in Ivory Coast, Africa.
Language: Mande language that has many different accents.
Types of Art:
History: Centuries ago the Gio migrated from present-day Guinea and Mali into their current locations in Liberia and Ivory Coast. For many years, the Gio fought with the surrounding peoples and were proud of their fierce, war-like reputation. Along with their Mande-speaking neighbours, the Gio invaded the coastal region, replacing some of the African tribes along the Atlantic coast and pushing back the Kru. After Liberia became a nation in 1847, the new government in Monrovia began pacifying these warring peoples. By the early 1900's, peace had been achieved, and administrative controls had been established.
Economy: The Gio are primarily farmers, annually clearing the forest land to grow their crops. They cultivate staple crops such as rice, cassava, and sweet potatoes. They also grow cash crops such as cocoa, coffee, and rubber. Women are given a small plot of ground on which to grow their own vegetables to use in the households or to sell in the market. Greens are gathered from domestic and wild plants in the forest. Palm oil is extracted from the many wild palm oil trees and then used for such things as fuel and cooking.
Gio men do most of the agricultural work, but women help with the harvesting and weeding. Men also do all of the hunting and most of the fishing, while women tend to such domestic duties as caring for the children and preparing the meals. Children help by chasing wild animals and birds away from the crops. The Gio also raise livestock such as cattle, sheep, and goats. These animals are eaten only on special ritual occasions involving much feasting.
Political Systems: Gio villages are divided into quarters, each housing an extended family or lineage. Each quarter is headed by a "quarter chief," who is chosen either for being the oldest male in the family or for having the most aggressive personality. Although the village or town chief administers authority over the whole village, the real power comes from the council of elders who assist the chief in all decisions.
Traditional Gio huts were small, single-room dwellings made of mud and thatch. Each wife of a man had her own hut where her children lived until they were old enough to move out. Today, houses are large and rectangular and have several rooms. Instead of living in separate houses, multiple wives live in different rooms in the same house with their husband.
Gio men have their own "secret society," which marks their initiation into manhood and guides them throughout their lives. The men's society is controlled by the elders and acts as a source of power for the community. Boys initiated into the society are prepared to encounter the mysteries of the spirit world and to learn the rules of adult Gio men. Women, too, have a similar society.
Religion: The Gio believe in a supreme god who created the universe and everything in it. They do not believe that man can reach this god; thus, they do not worship him. Instead, a spiritual power called Du acts as mediator between the people and the supreme god. Du is said to really be the spirit located in each person. The Gio believe in reincarnation, in which the Du, or spirit, of a person can pass into another person or even an animal after death.