Ghana : "Trokosi" Ghana's Slaves to the Gods: Ritual Servitude & Sexual Abuse

Alexandra

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Sep 13, 2008
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In brief;


The Trokosi custom is practised in south-eastern Ghana. A family must offer a daughter to the priest as a way of appeasing the gods for a relatives transgression, past or present. The tradition, has been part of the Ewe culture for centuries, requiring a girl to spend the rest of her life as a 'wife of the gods'. Children as young as 18 months are sent to the shrine. When a Trokosi girl dies, her family is expected to replace her with another young girl, passing the problem down from generation to generation. About 1,800 women have been released through the efforts of local charitable organisations, such as 'International Needs Ghana', but although it is now a criminal offense, it is estimated that there are still 5,000 women and girls in Trokosi shrines.





Please share your thoughts. I for one wonder whether this is one of the few instances where Christianity is a better route for certain vulnerable Africans (women and children). Given the choice of suffering everyday brutality in the name of serving my African gods, or leading a dignified life made possible by a foreign god, I have to say I would choose the latter.

Thanks,

Alexandra
 

Alexandra

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REGISTERED MEMBER
Sep 13, 2008
979
179
A more detailed breakdown


_1158115_priest300bbc.jpg


The woman let her bright green cloth slip down to reveal her breasts. But she did not care.


The African heat seeped through a hazy sky, drying up everything around and sapping strength.

She hauled up a bucket from a well, spilling water on the dirt ground, then rested by burying her head in her hands. Her rounded, scarred shoulders showed years of hard labour.

When she looked up, her eyes were completely blank as if no longer able to reflect pain, happiness, or any of those basic human emotions. Hutealor Wede does not know how old she is, nor can she remember how long she has been in the village of Fiato Avendrpedo in eastern Ghana. All she knows is that she is a slave and likely to die there. "My grandfather had illegal sex with a woman," she says, expressionless. "The gods punished our family. "I was the virgin daughter, so I was brought to this village and given to the priest to stop the disasters happening.

"I have to do everything for the priest. Anything he wants."

Hutealor Wede is a victim of Trokosi, which from the local dialect literally means slavery to the gods. It is part of a traditional religion where the priest mediates between the people and the gods - and of course interprets what they want. Three years ago a law was passed specifically to ban it, with a minimum punishment of three years in jail.

But no woman has been freed because of it and no-one has been arrested.
Human rights groups are now meeting in Accra to try to put pressure on the government to stamp it out. The new president, John Kufuor, has pledged to implement the law in full.

"Young girls should be in educational establishments not in the harem of some fetish priest," he told the BBC. At the moment though, Trokosi is a crime being carried out openly. It took us three hours to drive to Fiato Avendrpedo from Accra and a bottle of gin to get in.

The village's septuagenarian priest was a thin, bearded little man, called Togbe Adzimashi Adukpo. He was the slave master. His throne was a deck chair and before he talked to us, gin was poured into a thimble-sized glass which he drank from alone. More was mixed with a misty liquid in a coconut shell and splashed on the sand. He sipped from it, wiped his lips with the back of his hand and declared he was ready to be interviewed.

"Yes, the girls are my slaves," he said. "They are the property of my shrine."
He pointed behind him to a long, mud hut where the worship took place.

"They are brought here as virgins to be married to the gods," he said. "So if a man from the village wants one for himself, I have the power to give her to him."

Trokosi is an eternal penance. When one woman dies, her family has to bring a new girl to the priest, who is then initiated with the Trokosi ritual. Some are younger than 10-years-old.

The girl kneels in the shrine in front of him and the village elders, all men. Then, while chanting, they strip her of her bracelets, her earrings and all her clothes until she is bowed and humiliated in front of them.

From then on, she is a slave. She is raped frequently.

If she escapes and is caught, she is beaten. If she gets away to her superstitious family, they just send her back.

_1158115_hodui150bbc.jpg



Villages in this part of Ghana are divided into the liberated and un-liberated. The human rights group International Needs has had some success in raising money to buy women their freedom. The going rate is gentle persuasion and about $58 a head.

Togbe Adome Ahiave, the priest in one nearby liberated village saw himself as a modern man, mixing with human rights activists and claiming his own role was that of a monogamous village leader. "We used to have 15 slave girls here, but we were told it was against human rights, so we let them go," he said. "Life's a lot tougher now, we need more people to work the land.
"Perhaps you can give us a tractor. That would help."

There are about 3,000 women known to still be in slavery in Ghana. At the present rate it would take years to get them all freed. And there is also political and religious opposition - a strong lobby within the Ghanaian establishment, which says the campaign against Trokosi is a campaign against African culture.

Its leader is His Holiness Osofu Kofi Ameve, the head of the African Renaissance Mission, who invited me to the shell of his half-built headquarters. It will be the size of a hotel when it is finished, indicating there is plenty of money around.

"It's all lies," he bellowed when I asked him. "I tell you it's lies. "No woman is in slavery in Ghana. "Christianity, your Christianity allows for no another religion. You want to eradicate all African religion."

But back at the Fiato Avendrpedo, after fetching water from the well, Hutealor Wede and another, younger slave, were summoned to the shrine.
Surrounded by animal bones, a skull soaked in red dye, and strings of beads, they knelt forward, their hands on the earth, palms up, finger curled and heads touching the ground.

The priest rang a bell and chanted.

Day after day, week after week, year after year, they have to undergo the same degradation. Never do they expect the police to arrive to free them.

Source:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/1158115.stm
 

awo dino

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Just another example of the breakdown in cultural institutions that maintained balance between opposing forces (feminine/masciline) leading to new forms of old traditions.
If you go do the research, you would find that what is described here is not how "trokosi" is supposed to be, or how it used to be. One of the oldest tricks in the book is to present ahistorical "snapshots" of things.

alaafia
 

Ankhur

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A more detailed breakdown


_1158115_priest300bbc.jpg


The woman let her bright green cloth slip down to reveal her breasts. But she did not care.


The African heat seeped through a hazy sky, drying up everything around and sapping strength.

She hauled up a bucket from a well, spilling water on the dirt ground, then rested by burying her head in her hands. Her rounded, scarred shoulders showed years of hard labour.

When she looked up, her eyes were completely blank as if no longer able to reflect pain, happiness, or any of those basic human emotions. Hutealor Wede does not know how old she is, nor can she remember how long she has been in the village of Fiato Avendrpedo in eastern Ghana. All she knows is that she is a slave and likely to die there. "My grandfather had illegal sex with a woman," she says, expressionless. "The gods punished our family. "I was the virgin daughter, so I was brought to this village and given to the priest to stop the disasters happening.

"I have to do everything for the priest. Anything he wants."

Hutealor Wede is a victim of Trokosi, which from the local dialect literally means slavery to the gods. It is part of a traditional religion where the priest mediates between the people and the gods - and of course interprets what they want. Three years ago a law was passed specifically to ban it, with a minimum punishment of three years in jail.

But no woman has been freed because of it and no-one has been arrested.
Human rights groups are now meeting in Accra to try to put pressure on the government to stamp it out. The new president, John Kufuor, has pledged to implement the law in full.

"Young girls should be in educational establishments not in the harem of some fetish priest," he told the BBC. At the moment though, Trokosi is a crime being carried out openly. It took us three hours to drive to Fiato Avendrpedo from Accra and a bottle of gin to get in.

The village's septuagenarian priest was a thin, bearded little man, called Togbe Adzimashi Adukpo. He was the slave master. His throne was a deck chair and before he talked to us, gin was poured into a thimble-sized glass which he drank from alone. More was mixed with a misty liquid in a coconut shell and splashed on the sand. He sipped from it, wiped his lips with the back of his hand and declared he was ready to be interviewed.

"Yes, the girls are my slaves," he said. "They are the property of my shrine."
He pointed behind him to a long, mud hut where the worship took place.

"They are brought here as virgins to be married to the gods," he said. "So if a man from the village wants one for himself, I have the power to give her to him."

Trokosi is an eternal penance. When one woman dies, her family has to bring a new girl to the priest, who is then initiated with the Trokosi ritual. Some are younger than 10-years-old.

The girl kneels in the shrine in front of him and the village elders, all men. Then, while chanting, they strip her of her bracelets, her earrings and all her clothes until she is bowed and humiliated in front of them.

From then on, she is a slave. She is raped frequently.

If she escapes and is caught, she is beaten. If she gets away to her superstitious family, they just send her back.

_1158115_hodui150bbc.jpg



Villages in this part of Ghana are divided into the liberated and un-liberated. The human rights group International Needs has had some success in raising money to buy women their freedom. The going rate is gentle persuasion and about $58 a head.

Togbe Adome Ahiave, the priest in one nearby liberated village saw himself as a modern man, mixing with human rights activists and claiming his own role was that of a monogamous village leader. "We used to have 15 slave girls here, but we were told it was against human rights, so we let them go," he said. "Life's a lot tougher now, we need more people to work the land.
"Perhaps you can give us a tractor. That would help."

There are about 3,000 women known to still be in slavery in Ghana. At the present rate it would take years to get them all freed. And there is also political and religious opposition - a strong lobby within the Ghanaian establishment, which says the campaign against Trokosi is a campaign against African culture.

Its leader is His Holiness Osofu Kofi Ameve, the head of the African Renaissance Mission, who invited me to the shell of his half-built headquarters. It will be the size of a hotel when it is finished, indicating there is plenty of money around.

"It's all lies," he bellowed when I asked him. "I tell you it's lies. "No woman is in slavery in Ghana. "Christianity, your Christianity allows for no another religion. You want to eradicate all African religion."

But back at the Fiato Avendrpedo, after fetching water from the well, Hutealor Wede and another, younger slave, were summoned to the shrine.
Surrounded by animal bones, a skull soaked in red dye, and strings of beads, they knelt forward, their hands on the earth, palms up, finger curled and heads touching the ground.

The priest rang a bell and chanted.

Day after day, week after week, year after year, they have to undergo the same degradation. Never do they expect the police to arrive to free them.

Source:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/1158115.stm
WE ARE NOT PERFECT AND WE MUST NOT HATE NOR DENEGRATE OUR CULTURE, EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE SOME THINGS ABOUT IT THAT ARE WHACK, AND THAT CANNOT BE EMBRACED.

AS AFRICANS IN AMERICA, THERE ARE NO PEOPLE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, WHO HAVE SUFFERED SUCH ATROCITIES AND HORROS AS WE DID IN THE MIDDLE PASSAGE AT GUN POINT

THERE ARE NO PEOPLE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD WHO HAVE SUFFERED UNDER FAMILY DESTROYING, CULTURE RAPEING, SLAVERY AT GUN POINT, THE WAY WE HAVE

THERE ARE NO PEOPLE ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH WHO HAVE GONE THROUGH ALL OF THAT HELL

AND STILL HAD THE CREATIVITY TO CREATE THE RUDSIMENTS OF EVERY FORM OF TECHNOLOGY THAT WE SEE IN OUR HOMES AND WE TAKEFOR GRANTED, ONE GENERATION AFTER SLAVERY

AND THERE ARE NO PEOPLE ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET WHO HAVE GIVEN THE WORLD 2 MEN OF JUSTICE, AND UPLIFTMENT TO THE MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE ON THE PLANET AS THE DESCENDANTS OF SUCH UNHUMAN HORROR, MALCOLM X AND MARTIN LUTHER KING

AS DR JOHN HENRIK CLARKE SAID IN AFRICAN WORLD REVOLUTION

WE MUST TAKE WHAT IS GOOD FROM OUR AFRICAN RELIGION AND LEAVE THE REST
AND THOSE WHO ARE CHRISTIAN AM,D MUSLIM, MUST TAKE THOSE GODD QUALITIES AND FORM A SYNTHESIS OF A NEW SPIRITUALITY TO REPRESENT US ALL

THIS IS NOT A TIME TO HATE AND THERE IS ENOUGH UGLINESS ON BOTH SIDES

BUT WE MUST CREATE A NEW PARADIGM BASED ON THE BEST OF ALL PRINCIPLES

WHILE REJECTING THE WORST OF ALL PRINCIPLES

BUT THE HATE AND ANIMOSITY MUST STOP BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY

WE MUST NO LONGER LOOK TO THE PAST, BUT PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

AND LIVE FOR THE MOMENT,


BECAUSE EACH SECOND IS TOO PRECIOUS

AND OUR MINDS ARE TOO PRECIOUS

AND OUR CAUSE IS TOO PRECIOUS TO HARBOR ANY NEGATIVE THOUGHTS OR MINDSSETS


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