Regional News of Thursday, 20 February 2014
A day’s forum on Child Protection on Wednesday at Denu in the Ketu South Municipality virtually degenerated into a verbal war between traditionalists and bureaucrats, bringing the programme to an early close.
The programme was to identify and discuss belief systems militating against child rights.
Participants included representatives of traditional rulers, shrine owners, security agencies, pupils, opinion leaders, health, social and education workers and labour.
The setting for the confrontation was after participants returned from group work proceeded to discuss child rights implementation drawbacks.
Traditionalists, one after the other, angrily questioned the moral grounds on which some elements in society kept denigrating their beliefs.
The traditionalists, who said they could as well assume the titles of “pastors”, protested against attempts to denigrate everything traditional and the vilification of norms like the “Trokosi” (slavery) practice.
Group rapporteurs had a hectic time responding to the barrage of questions by the angry believers of the traditional faith.
They (Traditionalists) coming mainly from the “Africania Mission”, a pro-traditional religious faith group, were never satisfied with views of the other side, turning the programme into a cross-examination session.
They sometimes quoted the Bible in support of their views and appeared at a point to have totally hijacked the programme.
Officials of the Volta Regional Department of Children, program organizers, and Volta Child Rights and Protection Network (VOCRANET), its collaborators, showed apparent fatigue as the high table obviously lost control of proceedings.
Professor Korkuvi Azasoo, Lecturer, English Department, University of Winneba, lambasted persons he claimed had been lying about African traditional practices.
He said stories about Trokosi and other norms were all “falsehoods being fabricated by criminal elements”.
“I have constantly investigated the claims about norms in the various shrines and not found even one to be true and I encourage the liars behind them to stop it”, Prof. Azasoo said.
Prof. Azasoo, also a researcher in African Tradition and Plant Medicine and Healing, said Trokosi system and the others were healthy practices, which no one must be allowed to destroy.
He said those norms were heritage which everyone must cherish and protect.
Mr. Edwin Gamadeku, regional Director, Department of Children, called for reform of norms enacted by forebears for social cohesion and protection but now outdated and inimical to growth and rights of the child.
Mr. Trinity Yevoo, Ketu South Municipal Director, Department of Social Welfare, having lost control to moderate the program, brought proceedings to a sudden close, claiming there were other pressing issues.
Togbi Pasaku IV, Dufia of Hatsukope who chaired the programme, admitted some traditional norms required reform.
Ketu South is home to major fetish shrines including those at Kilkor and the celebrated Nogokpo shrine.