Ghana claims to have gained independence from its colonial masters, but some of its own cultural practices make the citizens more oppressed than the very oppressions from which the country was given semblance of independence on the 6 of March, 1957.
Independence, according to the Merriam Dictionary means freedom from outside control or support.
Before independence, external political control and exploitation of Ghana’s natural resources were not the only forms of oppression the country’s forefathers toiled to rebel against, which subsequently resulted in what is now called independence.
There was also slave trade in which Ghanaians and other Africans were sold into slavery and were subjected to all sorts of torturous treatments.
Now, after independence when the colonial masters have left for their various countries of origin and are no longer buying and using Ghanaians as slaves, as well as torturing them, one would have expected that the citizens would have had some respite.
However, there are some so-called cultural practices that are forced on some Ghanaians, mostly at their tender ages when they have no power to defend themselves or to give consent.
Without attempting to underestimate the toils of Ghana’s forefathers, these practices are even more oppressive and slavery than what the colonial rulers inflicted on Ghanaians during the colonial rule and slave trade periods.
There are numerous such practices mostly found in the hinterlands of the country where they are so entrenched that interventions by the state and human rights agencies to infuse some level of civilization in those areas, to eliminate those wicked and irrelevant practices are met with fierce resistance.
Sometimes the very youngsters for whose sake efforts are made to eliminate those primitive practices are the ones who ignorantly lead the campaign against the interventions seeking to give them freedom.
Some of these draconian practices include but not limited to:
This is an age old deep-rooted practice in which young virgin girls are donated by their families who are claimed to have committed certain ‘offences’ considered to be sacrilegious.
The girls then become slaves to the fetish priest of the god whose wrath their families are said to have incurred.
They are quarantined and denied social life and education for life; they become sex objects for the priest who chooses to have sex with them as and when he is sex hungry.
In fact the life of an innocent girl donated as Trokosi is more unbearable than that of a hardened criminal who has been condemned to life imprisonment for committing a high degree crime.
The only time the girls gain some freedom is when they die, but it does not end there; the families must replace them with new virgins. In fact, it is a vicious circle.
Another interesting thing about this Trokosi is the fact that the females who are condemned to that bondage also help in increasing the slaves. Anyone who dares sleep with them or does anything that hurts them becomes indebted to the god, and must also appease the said god with a virgin girl or their family members will die.
It is such an entrenched barbaric practice in which successive governments and humanitarian agencies have invested so much efforts and resources geared towards its elimination, but to no avail.
Though, admittedly, there has been some headway in terms of its alleviation, the practice is still existent in certain parts of the Volta region where is known to be widely practiced, as well as certain parts of the greater Accra region.
Female Genital Mutilation
This is another heartless act of cutting off mostly the clitoris of genitals of young and vulnerable females in a bloody and indiscreet manner without their consent.
FGM is practiced in some other African countries, but in Ghana, it is mostly found in the Northern parts of the country.
The rather retarded reason that is often assigned to this wicked practice is that it prevents women from being promiscuous.
There is no evidence to the effect that the practice has really prevented women who have undergone it from being promiscuous, but there are researches which show that the practice rather brings unbearable pain, trauma and long term side effects upon the victims.
Some of them even end up contracting HIV and AIDS because the same unsterilized objects are used all the time to cut every girl who is due for cutting. Concerns have been raised about the method and objects used in the process and the consequences.
Also, in the same Northern part of Ghana, there is another practice which also involves inflicting huge open cuts on faces of indigenes mostly in their tender ages in the name of making them unique and easily identifiable.
It also involves the use of sharp unsterilized objects which concerns have been raised about their hygiene and likely future repercussions on the victims.
Putting tribal marks on people has hardly proven to be any relevant to the victims, but it rather exposes them to tribalism and discrimination.
Widowhood rite is performed in Ghana and other African countries. What it entails vary from one jurisdiction to the other, but generally the basic aim of the rite is to make women whose husbands have died to mourn them for a particular period of time.
However, the practice in certain parts of Ghana is more a punishment meted out to the widow for the demise of her husband than mourning. It is made to look like a time for the widow to prove her innocence in the death of her deceased husband.
Because of that mindset, the woman who has lost her soul mate and actually needs the company of sympathisers around to comfort her is rather subjected to some unthinkable treatments as part of the widowhood rite.
For instance, the widow is confined indoors for a particular period of time between three months and two years, depending on the jurisdiction.
She is forbidden to comb her hair for as long as the rite will be effective. In some places, the woman is even made to drink water that was used to bath the corpse of her late husband among other things, just to prove that she did not contribute in any way to the death of the man.
Human rights activists have condemned some of these treatments as they violate the human rights of women, but the practice is still existent in the country.
One other equally wicked and incomprehensible practice that exists in Ghana, but less known about is one in which women living in the particular community are not allowed to give birth in the community because it is an abomination or taboo for their blood to stain the ground.
In a town located in the South Tongu district of the Volta region called Dove, when women get pregnant and their time is due to be delivered, they are quickly rushed out of the boundaries of the town in order to avoid blood spilling on the ground.
Because of the practice, there was no health facility in the town until as recently as somewhere 2016 when government of Ghana built a CHIPS compound in the town, after a long period of resistance by the indigenes.
It is unfathomable why men in Dove marry, sleep with the women and get them pregnant on that same land, but when the time of childbirth which is a natural thing is due, the women are forbidden to bloodstain the ground in the name of a so-called taboo.
What is even more interesting is the fact that, the very male children whose delivery in the town is forbidden are the same children who grow up to uphold such a nonsensical wickedness against women in the town, making it a generationally entrenched injustice perpetrated against women.
As a matter of fact, there are many more antiquated and wicked so-called cultural practices in various parts of the country, some of which are hardly known about, and indigenes of those communities are suffering unacceptable oppressions that need to be exposed.
The 1992 constitution is the mother of all laws of Ghana, for which reason any law or practice which is not in alignment with it becomes null and void.
Having chosen democracy, the constitution which is the bedrock of the country must be seen to be protecting the fundamental human rights of the people of Ghana, irrespective of where they live and what cultural practices prevail in their communities.
Of course, the constitution remains just a book if those entrusted with the power to enforce and implement its content sit unconcerned, while the citizenry remain oppressed and their fundamental human rights are violated with impunity.
Yes those practices are ways of life of certain groups of people, but in this 21st century, it is important to protect the interests of the majority of voiceless people who wish they had the power to make a change, but are seriously helpless.