The Loko are one of the indigenous ethnic groups in Sierra Leone.
The Loko of Sierra Leone are numbering 232,000 (Peoplegroups.org, 2023). Lokos can also be found around Bradford and Rotifunk in the Southern Province.
The Lokos occupy five chiefdoms in the Port Loko and Bombali districts of the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. They are closely related to the Mendés and Gbandes. In fact, most Lokos living in Freetown designate themselves as Temnes.
Landogo is used as an endonym for the people and language, but other groups refer to them as Loko. They speak a Southwestern Mande language that is also called Loko. The majority of the Loko people live in the Northern Province of the country, particularly in Bombali District, and around the capital city of Freetown in communities such as Regent. Important regional towns include Tambiama, Kalangba, Kagbere, Batkanu, and Gbendembu, though other groups such as the Mandingo, Fula and Temne peoples live there too.
The Loko belong to the larger group of Mande peoples who live throughout West Africa. The Loko are mostly farmers and hunters. Loko believe that most humanistic and scientific power is passed down through the secret societies, such as the Kpangbani.
The Loko people also utilize practices of the Bondo secret society which aims at gradually but firmly establishing attitudes related to adulthood in girls, discussions on fertility, morality and proper sexual comportment. The society also maintains an interest in the well-being of its members throughout their lives. The secrecy and taboo surrounding Bondo Society is preventing communities from tackling the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Loko villages are grouped together at the bases of hills, in the open plains, or on the valley floors. Usually, a small group of compact huts makes up a village. These huts are round, with wooden walls and cone-shaped, thatched roofs.
The Loko are divided into nine districts, with each being ruled by a chief. Each village in the district is ruled by a headman, who answers to the chief. The Loko are a family-oriented people, and a village is generally made up of a family lineage. The Loko are also said to be open-minded, cooperative, and open to outside influences.
More than a third are Muslims; the rest are Christians and animists. The contemporary religious trend, however, is increased conversions to Islam.
Loko society is basically patrilineal, which means that they trace their lineage through the males. Polygyny (having more than one wife) is practiced by many of the men. Before a Loko man marries, he must first pay a bride-price to the girl's parents.
The Loko are engaged in several crafts, such as basketry, cabinet making, and net making. In addition, they participate in many important ritual festivities and ceremonies throughout the year. Much dancing accompanies these events.