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The Kpelle people sometimes referred to as the Guerze are located primarily in an area of central Liberia extending into Guineamarker. They speak the Mande language which is a branch off the Niger-Congo language family. Despite their yearly heavy rainfalls and rough land, The Kpelle survive mostly on their staple crop of rice. Culturally the Kpelle take a functional approach to life; they are organized under several paramount chiefs who serve as mediators for the public, preserve order and settle disputes. Their local economy surrounds trade with local tribes. Labeled as practical, the Kpelle people have a long and profound history.

Location

The Kpelle are the largest ethnic group of the West African nation of Liberiamarker, and are important also in southeastern Guineamarker (where they are also known as Guerze). They speak the Kpelle language. Erchak, Gerald M. "Kpelle." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. Vol. 9: Africa and the Middle East. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1996. 172-174. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. MINNEAPOLIS COMMUNITY TECHNICAL COLLEGE. 8 July 2009 /go.galegroup.com.mctproxy.mnpals.net/ps/start.do?p=GVRL&u=mnaminncom

The terrain in the area includes swamps, hills and, in lowland areas, rivers. May through October brings their rainy season with an annual rainfall from 180 to 300 centimeters. The Kpelle territory sees the lowest temperatures dropping to 19 degrees C with the average temp around 36 degree C. Erchak, Gerald M. "Kpelle." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. Vol. 9: Africa and the Middle East. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1996. 172-174. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. MINNEAPOLIS COMMUNITY TECHNICAL COLLEGE. 8 July 2009 /go.galegroup.com.mctproxy.mnpals.net/ps/start.do?p=GVRL&u=mnaminncom

Food

The Kpelle people's food rice as their primary staple. It is supplemented by cassava, vegetables, and fruits; cash crops include rice, peanuts (groundnuts), sugarcane, and Kola nuts. "Kpelle." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopedia Britannica Online Library Edition. 7 July 2009 /www.library.eb.com/eb/article-9046174>.

Culture

In intelligence research, the Kpelle people perform differently than Westerners on sorting tasks. While Westerners tend to take a taxonomic approach, the Kpelle take a more functional approach. For example, instead of grouping food and tools into separate categories, a Kpelle participant stated "the knife goes with the orange because it cuts it" (Glick 1975).

Traditionally, the Kpelle have been farmers. Rice was the main crop they raised.

History

The Kpelle used to live in Sudan during the sixteenth century before they fled and migrated to Western Africa to what is now known as Liberia. Historians noted that their fleeing was due to inside conflict between the Sudanesemarker tribes. They migrated all the way to Liberia and still maintained their traditional and cultural heritage.

History has shown that, in their daily economic life routine, the Kpelle used to trade with other tribes such as Mende, Loma, Mano, and Bassa. They also used to trade with the Muslim Vai and Mandingo who live in small numbers in the country and reside nearby. They also trade with Lebanesemarker merchants, U.S. missionaries and Peace Corps volunteer in Monroviamarker. They were a people of civilization and progression compare to other tribes in the region. A four year college run by a group of Episcopal is located in the middle of Kpelleland.

Traditionally, a Kpelle family consist of a man, his wives and his children. The house hold has been the usual farming unit, and all the family members participate daily farming work. Little kids used to learn how to farm and take care of farming by helping the older family members. This has been a traditional culture and remains in place.

In their society style structure, leadership was very crucial. Every Kpelle tibe used to have a chief who runs their own interest as well as the interest of the society. These chiefs were recognized by the government. They used to go mediators between the government and their own tribes. Each town also had its own chief. The chiefs are primarily the liaisons of the society. Again this traditional culture has been kept sacred since then and remains popular in their society even today.

Erchak, Gerald M. "Kpelle." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. Vol. 9: Africa and the Middle East. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1996. 172-174. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. MINNEAPOLIS COMMUNITY TECHNICAL COLLEGE. 8 July 2009

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