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>February 13, 1997
>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
Professor, Art Education
340 Hopkins Hall
Ohio State University
Columbus, OH 43210