General News of Friday, 25 May 2012
Source: Klo Hengme
The attention of Klo Hengme; a krobo youth group has been drawn to a Joy Fm documentary by Seth Kwame Boateng dated May 24, 2012 which met the anger of krobos all over Ghana and the world at large. The response to this documentary has become a priority due to several calls and messages received by the group from krobos to register their displeasure.
Whiles the aim of the news documentary is not very clear to us one could assume that it’s either to increase HIV awareness or to mainstream Queens Mothers as a model institution for tackling the problem of orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) due to HIV/AIDS. Whilst this is very important, the manner in which the interviewed queen mother’s told their stories is questionable and apparently signals a desperate attempt by them to solicit for funds through overly exaggerating a delicate social and health tag. Klo Hengme will like to set the records strait in order to highlight the factual inaccuracies and the twisting of facts in the documentary. We will substantiate our position in the ensuing paragraphs by revisiting the geography of HIV Aids in Ghana and the long held tag associated with Kroboland. We will demonstrate how the queen mother’s association is exploiting this unfortunate situation to fatten their bank accounts.
The problem of increasing numbers of orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) due to HIV/AIDS has become one of Africa’s silent ‘ticking bombs’ (Lund & Agyei Mensah 2008). It is estimated that more than 24 million OVC will exist throughout Africa by end of 2015 (UNESCO 2005). This problem is therefore a global one and not confined to only one geographical area. As problems relating to OVC have escalated, several NGO’S CBO’S as well as traditional leaders have mushroomed at the national, regional and district levels to help reduce vulnerability.
In Ghana, Manya Krobo always been cited as the district with the highest figures and hence it’s believed that HIV prevalence rate is high among Krobos. It will be very important to state categorically that a health post(s) recording the highest cases doesn’t necessarily premise the localization of the cases. That is to say that not all the cases recorded in hospitals located at Kroboland are krobos. When the HIV/AIDS menace broke out in 1986, the Atua Government Hospital and St Martin’s Hospital both in Manya-Krobo were among the few pilot hospitals in the country that were equipped to serve as HIV/AIDS referral Centers. These two facilities served almost the whole of the Eastern Region especially people from the Fanteakwa, Asuogyaman, Dangme-West, New Juabeng districts and other satellite villages around ManyaKrobo. Therefore, it is not Krobos who are populated with HIV/AIDS, but it is these two hospitals that record high figures due to their strategic locations. HIV testing and treatment is free at the Agomanya Health post. It must also be noted that people feel more comfortable to test for HIV AIDS outside their familiar health post due to fear of health workers they know getting information about their status which may lead to stigmatization. It is therefore erroneous to say ‘‘It’s natural to mention Manya Krobo when talking about HIV AIDS’’. It’s even more surprising why Seth Kwame Boateng would choose Manya Krobo when the current 2011 Sentinal Survey Report cited Cape Coast as the area with the highest prevalence rate but well that is his choice and unfortunately the queen mother in the interview who is supposed to address the issue had a different agenda. It is also very unfortunate for Seth Kwame Boateng to paint the picture as if the Association was formed because of the so called HIV orphans.
The Queen Mothers Association in Krobo was formed in 1998 with the objective of coordinating the efforts of female traditional leaders towards solving problems of the district and also working towards community development. They have now turned themselves into an NGO with the motive of making money. Whiles it is true that they are taking care of people they claim to be orphans, it’s very important to make a clear distinction between HIV orphans and other orphans. The question is how many out of the so called over 1000 orphans they claim to be taking care of are due to HIV as they would want us to believe? It’s very obvious some of the people they claim to be orphans are not and even those orphans they claim to be taking care of are those of their family members and close associates. It must be made clear that no such orphan homes exist in Manya-Krobo. Krobos believe in and still practice the extended family system cherishly. So for the Queen mothers to be taking care of orphans (whose parents might have died a natural death or other causes) of their family members and try to link it to HIV/AIDS in an attempt to solicit for funds is very disheartening, misleading, parochial and unfortunate. The way Manye Makutsu, Manye Nartekie and their cohorts ‘told their stories’ only premise a sense of desperatism for sympathy in order to get support/funding. It’s a shame that we could sell our dignity in the name of searching for funding. If they want to solicit for funds, they should do it in a way that will not denigrate the image of krobos.
It beat our imagination to hear our queen mothers who are the innovators and preservers of our customs and traditions and are supposed to know better about the importance of such cultures such as Dipo try to link Dipo puberty rites with the exodus of women from the area for prostitution and hence contracting HIV. It is also very unfortunate for Seth Kwame Boateng to attempt making relationship between beautiful krobo women and HIVAIDS. Dipo as a puberty rite has one moral significance and that is to prevent women from having sex until they undergo the rite since it’s a taboo to be found pregnant during the initiation and this can lead to banishment from the land. This may imply that Dipo may rather enhance chastity.
A picture has been painted in the documentary that Krobo women only travel to Abidjan to seek for greener pastures. It must be on record that Krobo women are among the top-ranked civil and public servants, among the highly educated, and occupants of high positions in the country. Even the few ones who used to travel to the said Abidjan have put a stop to the practice and are contributing to development. The documentary seems to ignite a public perception about Krobos which is not ethical of journalistic as well as general research practices. For the said reporter to identify an abandoned house in Somanya-Abokobi and say "All the inhabitants of this house have died from AIDS" is very funny. He must be informed that the extended family system works really well in Krobo, and even if the owners of that house have died from AIDS, some extended family members will still be there to occupy the house. It is not that the owners have abandoned the house as a result of death from HIV/AIDS, but urban-rural and urban-urban migration can also make people abandon their houses in search of greener pastures.
AIDS does not have the face of a place. In this modern era of globalization where movement and communication is as easy as ABC, It will be a big mistake to associate the incidence of HIV AIDS to a place. Such a posture will not only hurt people in such places but will thwart HIV eradication and efforts at reducing stigmatization. We call on the QMA to act more responsibly in the interest of Krobos. We also call on them to explain to Krobos why they chose to denigrate our customs in exchange for support.
About Klo Hengme We are a pressure group that aims at fighting for the development of Kroboland as well as educating people all over the world about our culture, tradition and history. It was formed late 2011 and has so far chalked a number of achievements.
Contact Klo Hengme at email@example.com or
Erics Goodluck Tamatey-Sikatse
Tel: 0047 45130952 (Norway) or 0243804684 (Ghana)
Ike Otu Tamatey Tel: 0244 036651