The Putu Deity
In the land of the Putu there is a certain deity who lives in a cave on the side of Mount Gedeh; the name of this fabulous being is Tuobo Nyeka.
Tuobo Nyeka is an oracle and has served the Putu people well, giving wise advice on important matters and solving many problems which could not be solved by men. The position of the medium or Ba Weyon Sloo who deals directly with the deity is hereditary, passing from father to son; but today the modern Ba Weyon Sloo lives in a foreign land, and the oracle sleeps in the cave awaiting his return.
The surroundings of the cave were kept clean and orderly by the Putu, and fireplaces were maintained for visiting members of the Sapa, Half-Grebo and Putu groups who traveled from afar to consult Tuobo Nyeka on matters concerning tribal and clan welfare, ill-health, misfortune, barren wives and poor crops. The deity was consulted only when the moon was full; strangers gathered on the mountainside to await the coming of the full moon and — as was the custom of the Greeks at the oracle of Delphi — they often used to pass the time by holding athletic contests.
When the moon was full the Ba Weyon Sloo would enter the cave and the visitors would follow bearing gifts of ivory, salt, gold or country cloth; no visitor was permitted to sit in the presence of Tuobo Nyeka, and if he did he would be devoured by a giant snake. the Ba Weyon Sloo would intercede on behalf of each visitor, and Tuobo Nyeka would give wise and uncanny counsel on their problems.
Barren wives bore children after intercession, and these children were usually gifted and highly respected in their groups; certain foods were forbidden them, lest Tuobo Nyeka be deprived of proper fare.
The Putu live in the most remote fastnesses of the nation and like other proud and virile peoples they proved reluctant to bend to the will of the Liberian Government. In 1924, when they learned that Government troops were advancing on this region, the Ba Weyon Sloo approached the deity and asked him what would happen.
Tuobo Nyeka answered that the Putu would never be conquered until the Ba Wyen Sloo’s little finger became pregnant and bore a son; but the Ba Weyon Sloo died on the following day, before the troops arrived, and this promise did not come true. The Putu people were severely defeated.
The son of the last Ba Weyon Sloo is a man called Kama-in, an educated man who lives in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Some say the deity who lives in the cave would have nothing to do with a westernized man, but others wait and pray for Kama-in to return and take up his lawful duties in the cave on the slopes of Mount Gedeh.