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Opinions of Sunday, 20 April 2003

Columnist: Anane, Baffuor Gyau

Parents Selling Their Own Children:

What Is More Painful Than This?

There is some feeling of unbelief and of pain when stories on child slavery pop up on the TV screen or in the print media. How possible? In this modern age? Is this truly happening? These are some of the questions asked by the public. ‘Trokosi,’ another subtle form of slavery has also been in the news for years. In both cases siblings are involved and they are doing this for a pittance if one can put a price on a human being. Poverty, some parents explained to the Project Coordinator of the International Office of Migration, had driven them to ‘sell their children.’

The IOM is an organization funded by the United States to end child slavery. The West is financing a project to stop the African from selling his own child into slavery! Slavery in any form is evil. A parent selling his own child into slavery is painful and heartbreaking.

It is hard for a parent when a child is leaving home for camp for a week or two. The child is also in pain though he knows he is going to have fun and adventure. Even when kids leave home for boarding schools or for the university the absence is temporary but there is emptiness at home and it could be painful. The big question then is: How on earth could a parent sell his or her own child into slavery, forever missing these beautiful words, ‘daddy, I love you,’ ‘mommy, I love you’? How on earth could a parent sell his own child, fresh and blood, into slavery, knowing fully well what is ahead for the child to endure—no education, but hard labor, pain, and sorrow. ‘How could Paapa do this to me?’ ‘How could Maame do this to me?’ This is coming from the mouth of a nine or ten-year old child. Meditate on this and feel the pain.

“Once we explained how IOM (the International Office for Migration) was going to help them, dozens of parents came to us,” said an IOM official investigating child slavery. As a result, according to the official, “some 45 children were identified by their parents.” This is not fiction. It is real and it is happening in the coastal villages of democratic Ghana where the people believe in Freedom and Justice.

There have been stories in the media on child slavery in West Africa. Kids as young as eight and nine are sweating on cocoa farms and coffee plantations in the Ivory Coast. Most of these kids are from West African countries, the Ivory Coast included. ‘Trokosi’ is painful but this is worse. Years ago a TV magazine programme in the United States focussed on ‘Trokosi’ slavery in the Volta Region of Ghana. One could see the joy in the faces of those ‘slaves’ whose freedom was ‘bought’ by a Ghanaian church group. They were free at last to pursue their dreams.

Not long ago, the crew of a ship moored on the coast of a West African country was detained when it was found out that child slaves were the ship’s cargo. The kids had been sold into slavery by their own parents. There was so much joy in them when they tasted freedom. How painful it is to deny someone his freedom. More painful if the one denying you freedom is your own parent. If poverty, cited by the IOM as the main reason the people sold their own children into slavery, then poverty is a very painful experience. If poverty could let a parent sell his own child like a commodity, never to see him again, then poverty has the power to turn God’s child into the devil’s. Lower forms of animals are protective of their babies. How on earth could a human being, created in the image of God, stoop so low to inflict this emotional, psychological, and physical pain on a fellow human being, his own child, God has created through him? Poverty and definitely evil nature have sent him to the devil’s camp.

Poverty is more severe in the coastal villages and other rural areas. In a previous article the writer strongly advised the government to help create jobs in the fishing villages along the coast and also in other district centers to stop the coming of the youth into the urban areas that has congested the big cities. This time the writer will add, ‘to help stop the sale of beautiful Ghanaian kids into slavery.’

Coastal Ghana urgently needs economic boost, other than that the country will be losing potential scientists, doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs. A lot of Ghanaians have no source of income. This can be averted when the government emphasizes on rural development.

There is no excuse under the sun, moon, and stars, and in the heaven realm for a parent to sell his child into slavery because he has no money to feed the family. However, if a little economic boost like low interest loans is given to the fishermen along the coast, the possibility is there that one Ghanaian could be saved from losing the love of his parents and toiling for a pittance or for nothing as a slave, never to have the joys of being in school and getting an education.

Poverty among the people in the coastal villages has been going on for decades and the previous governments did not do well in addressing the situation. Ghana now has a compassionate and forward-looking government which is determined to improve the lot of the people. If the government starts creating jobs in the rural areas it will be of great economic help to the people. Ghana has no safety net benefits to lessen the pain of poverty among the unemployed as in the developed nations and that is why poverty in Ghana and other Third World societies is very acute. This has contributed to the ultimate child abuse—child labor and child slavery—in these societies.

The white man is sending manned space ships into space and the black African, as some one said, “is yet to manufacture a bicycle tire.’ The human genome does not favor the white race. The human genome is 99.9% identical in all human beings and there is no difference in the color of the blood that runs through the veins of people of all races. The white race has not got brain as big as an elephant’s head and the African given brains no bigger than the head of an ant. Melanin explains the lily-white complexion of the Scandinavian and the brown and black complexions of tropical people because of the sun. In other words, the white man is not superior to the African in intelligence. Unfortunately, the socio-economic and political gap between the West and Africa is as wide as the circumference of the earth. The African has created an economic, social, and political environment that retards his progress.

How many Scandinavian parents will sell their own children into slavery because they have no money to feed them? Africans collaborated to send their own brothers and sisters into slavery in the New World. A documentary on slavery proved this. Africa lost a lot. Sadly, Africans are still doing it all over the continent, in Mauritania, the Sudan, and other countries. The fault is from within indeed. If slavery was not officially illegal ask yourself this question: Would rival tribes, rebels and warlords in Africa have wasted their strength and bullets to kill and maim one another? You know the answer to this. They would have sold their victims into slavery for a bottle of gin, or a bag of rice,or for a sack of maize. Do not doubt this. The African is capable of selling his own child for a paltry sum of money. Africans sold the strongest and the brainy five hundred years ago. Africans are still doing it. Instead of educating their kids Africans are selling them into slavery and the white man is the one funding a project to stop this evil.

The United States Republican government says: “No Child Should Be Left Behind” as regards education. This should also be the policy of the NPP government in Ghana. Instead of a child toiling on a cocoa farm or hauling a fishing net from the sea as a slave, this child would be solving mathematical problems in the classroom or dissecting a frog at the school laboratory. The country gains tremendously.


BAFFUOR GYAU ANANE ? April 17th, 2003
FREELANCE WRITER

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of Ghanaweb.