Besides jan and ona, there are several words that can work as head nouns and be readily understood as referring to an individual, or a general or specific or group of people. The most common of these is: meli, mije, and the unofficial word tonsi. kulupu works in this capacity as well, but always implies plurality.
identity and plurality
One of the beautiful things about toki pona, in my opinion, is that gender and plurality tends to remain unspoken by default. Let’s draw he is good!, she is good!, and finally they are good!
We can however express gender and plurality more explicitly if necessary.
Besides meli and mije for man and woman, many in the toki pona community also employ tonsi to express identity outside of the binary concept of gender. Like many words, they all can take on many roles in the sentence.
To express more than one of anything we have already seen we can use mute as a modifier. This works with mi, sina and ona as well, to make us, you-plural, and they explicit:
Additionally kulupu is used regularly to talk about a community or group of people:
mama is unusual in sitelen sitelen in that there are two glyphs for one word. I’ve added a second glyph for reasons explained more in depth here. Although there has never been an inherent gender to mama, its use has expanded far beyond the examples present in texts when I was first learning toki pona.
The older glyph will always be here, it has historical precedent, and in some sentences it can actually add context. The example sentence in pu is a case in point. But by being figurative and meli, it comes loaded with additional pretext, and so I’ve added the second glyph for uses when one wants to free the image from these constraints.