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Opinions of Sunday, 20 October 2019

Columnist: Ferkah Demanford David

Clamp down fetish priests programmes on television

Before the invention of television, information was mainly gathered from libraries, newspapers and radios. However, these sources lacked visual stimulation through animated illustrations. Without the tediousness of distributing newspapers or having to travel to libraries relatively far from home, the television provides a convenient medium for citizens to receive information on current events. The efficiency of the television is evident in a large amount of information that can convey in a relatively shorter amount of time compared to reading the papers. From this, it can deduce that the main intention of the television is to educate, entertain and to inform the people about the happenings in the society. That is why television is found in our homes, offices and any other places just to serve individual interests.

However, the introduction of digital platform has turned these purposes in a different direction by some local television stations. The contemporary magic money flaunting by fetish priest on our local television screens is gradually gaining grounds in our system and it is very emotional.

In Ghana, Togo, Benin and other countries of West Africa, a fetish priest is a person who serves as a mediator between the spirit and the living. Fetish priests usually live and worship their gods in enclosed places, called a fetish shrine. The fetish shrine is a simple mud hut with some kind of enclosure or fence around it. The priest or priestess performs rituals to consult and seek the favour from his gods in the shrine. The rituals are performed with money, liquor, animals, and in some places, human sex slaves called trokosi or woryokwe. The priest is usually chosen through "spiritual nomination of the shrine" through divination. They are most at times believed to help people in spiritual matters and physical needs (riches, good fortunes, marriage, travelling mercies, deliverance) in people's life. People fear them most often because fetish priests claim they can kill people spiritually.

Moreover, the trend has changed now. In the olden days, it was very difficult for you to see the locations of fetish priests, not even posters but what do we see today? These fetish priests have now taken over all social media handles such as Watsapp, Facebook, Instagram, Twiter, and many more. Sometimes I use to say that if the monies flaunting by these so-called Fetish Priest are indeed true, then there is no need for our leaders to fly to foreign countries to seek financial assistance to support some part of our economy because the government can approach them internally for financial support.

My grandfather told me that, long ago, fetish priests/priestesses resided in thick forests and remote places. There, they received clients and helped the clients per their needs. Moreover, it was unusual and uncommon to see fetish priests/priestesses in the public domain or to see and hear them on any media platform. Generally, if they would come to the public domain, then it would be because there is a critical problem that warrants their assistance. For example, when there is the need to perform certain rituals to cleanse their town or community in the open space. Here, it must be noted that the fetish priests/priestesses came to the public domain to execute their duties upon consultation with and permission from the chief and council of elders in the society. Besides, the priests/priestesses came to the public domain because they had to perform certain rites to usher in the celebration of an upcoming event (e.g. festival). Currently, it appears to be outdated for the majority of the fetish priests/priestesses in Ghana to reside in the forests and remote places to receive clients. Now, they are near our doorsteps and are ubiquitous. It sounds and looks very difficult to tell whether fetish priests/priestesses and pastors are competing among themselves for client patronization in Ghana. This is because one finds these religious personages perform magic and miracles respectively on various media platforms almost daily.

In this seemingly same line of progression, one observes a replica of competition, this time, among fetish priests/priestesses in Ghana. In this regard, fetish priests/priestesses showcase their spiritual potency, daunting but sacred artefacts (e.g. snakes, birds), and then conjure money on various media platforms to win the interest of people into their fold. Given the kind of scenes and the utterances that are telecasted and aired respectively on the media platforms in Ghana, my question is. "What is/are the effect(s) the programme has on the youth and children in Ghana? I suggest that fetish priests/priestesses television and radio programmes should be curtailed. This is because such programmes drive the youth to develop the desire for quick money, occult/magical practices, and social vices, which at the long run may ruin their lives and the society they live in.

I am suggesting this because there are several cases of fraud by some of these Fetish Priests/priestesses currently, which were not happening in the pasts. The following are some of the fraud cases involving fetish priests: Ghana News Agency (GNA) on 28th January 2019 published a story with the headline, "Fetish Priest remanded in Police Custody for fraud" and one can read the full story from the above site. The other one which can be found on on 24th August 2014 was, "Fraud Victims Attack Fetish Priest". The brief of the story was that a group of persons who have been defrauded by a fetish priest at Okorase near Koforidua in the Eastern region stormed the shrine of Okomfo Anokye Ketewa to demand their monies amounting to GH40,000. Another fraudulent case involving fetish priest, which was published by on 1st September 2016, was 'Money-doubling' fetish priest sentenced to three months in jail. In summary of the story, The Accra Circuit Court today sentenced a traditional priest who failed to turn GH¢8,000 belonging to a trader into GH¢80,000 as promised to three months imprisonment with hard labour. The traditional priest, Benjamin Doe, was also slapped with a fine of GH¢3,600 or is in default expected to serve an additional 2 years after being convicted on the charge of defrauding by false pretence by the court presided over by Mr Aboagye Tandoh. These and other cases that are not in the public domain that some people in the society are facing in the hands of these fake fetish priests.

Perhaps, I want to urge the authorities of National Media Commission, National Communications Authority and the Security Agencies to put measures in place to control the activities of these fake priests/priestesses on our television screens. Finally, I want to find out from Bank of Ghana whether flaunting these monies on televisions without knowing the source does not tantamount to Money Laundering.

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