National Geographic : 1982 Jul
by a complex social code and philosophy called Poro. Its rigorous rules and severe ini tiations have one overriding aim: to create and maintain order. The elders are idolized teachers. Disobe dience is intolerable. "Fidelity buys more than wealth," they instruct. "Friendship should be honored by death, when neces sary." Lifelong education runs the gamut of theoretical and practical knowledge, from religion, cosmology, and magic to history, etiquette, arithmetic, and the making of farm implements. Initiates adopt a secret language and liturgy. Even picture taking has its regulations. Desiring to photograph a sacrificial shrine, I was frustrated by the priest, who declared that I must satisfy his god with my own sac rifice, lest it kill him for sacrilege. "What must we do?" I asked. "It will accept 15,000 francs [$50]." "Why so much?" "Monsieur, even my deity suffers from 'la conjoncture.'"