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Dear Terry Barrett,
Earlier this month I read the article of which you spoke (in your
e-mail on Feb. 11 to the artsednet,) "Ghanian Priests Still Taking Girls
Into Slavery." Like you, I was disturbed by what I read. After reading
this article, I talked with some friends who are members of the local
Ghanian community about what was written. I was told that the practice
of ritual slavery, as described in this article, is very uncommon in
Ghana. The statement that you quoted: "Slavery has long been and still
is a part of Ghanian culture," is sweeping and (in the words of the
Ghanian people that I talked to,) inaccurate. Ritual slavery, as was
described in the article is not wide spread in the country of Ghana. It
is not even widespread among the Ewe people of Ghana. Many Ghanians
(likely the majority,) are as outraged by this practice as you or I.
I applaud the media for reporting on human rights abuses at home
and abroad. In Ghana, there is a large and vocal group who are working
to have the practice of ritual slavery outlawed. Perhaps the world-wide
attention that articles like this one gain will help the Ghanian people
with their fight.
There is a parallel between the lives of the young women,
(ritual slaves in Ghana,) and child prostitutes who work and live in
towns and cities across North America. Often the victims of incest and
abuse, these young people are bought and sold on the streets every
night. I see a connection between the Ghanian Priests (who practice this
obscure ritual,) and the "Johns' who use money and power to buy sex from
kids on the streets of your city and mine.
My point is that there are many aspects of North American culture
which I am sure most of us do not want to celebrate. However, this
should not give us cause to throw the baby out with the bathwater. THERE
IS MUCH TO CELEBRATE ABOUT GHANIAN ART AND CULTURE.
I appreciate the AP article about the human rights abuses in Ghana. As
an educator, I would also appreciate seeing much more coverage about the
arts and culture of Ghana and other African nations. Sadly, it is BLACK
HISTORY MONTH and this article is one of very few that has appeared in
Vancouver newspapers that even touch on African history. I am sorry
that this article makes such broad and sweeping claims. Most North
Americans know so very little about Ghana and other West African
countries, it is a shame that the media chooses to focus only on negative
aspects of the culture.
Daun C. Yorke