The people on Savo are swidden agriculturalists. They mainly live off fruit and the root crops (mostly sweet potato, manioc and small yam) and vegetables they grow in their inland gardens, supplemented by fish and, on special occasions, chicken and pigs. Rice, which is not grown but has to be bought, is nowadays also an important part of the diet.

Manioc plant
Manioc, or cassava, plant
Pana plant
Pana plant, a small kind of yam
Food prepared for a small celebration
Food prepared for a small celebration, rice with Chinese instant noodles, sweet potato (short and round) and manioc (elongated)
A customary oven
A customary oven: after a big fire burnt down, heating small stones at the bottom and big stones that will be placed on top of the food, the oven is filled with leaf-wrapped parcels of sweet potato pudding and pork.
Oven 2
After some banana leaves and big hot stones were placed on the pork and pudding, raw sweet potato and manioc is added.
Oven 3
Finally, everything is covered with banana leaves, hot stones and old canvas bags and left to cook.

The social organization is based on clan lineages, in a matrilineal system, i.e. clan membership as well as rights to use certain parts of the land owned by the clan are passed on through the line of the mother. There are six clans on Savo, each of which has a traditional clan leader (‘chief’). The leaders of all clans are organized in the Savo Ghizi Kato House of Chiefs. The chiefs and the House of Chiefs are still important authorities on the local level, alongside government and church institutions. Religion plays an important role in the every-day life of Savo Islanders. Most people on Savo Island are Roman Catholic or Anglican.

People usually still live in raised houses made of wood, bamboo and sago leaves, but some start to build what is called ‘permanent houses’, made of concrete, wood and roofing iron.

Traditional houses
Traditional houses with leaf roofs
Permanent house
Permanent house

Culturally and in social organization, the people living on Savo Island are very similar to those living on the neighbouring islands of Guadalcanal and Gela, and everyone on Savo is related to people on these neighbouring islands.