Africa, as the site of the World Cup, is in the news and on the minds of everyone with an interest in soccer. It seems a good time to mention two books set in Africa. Michael Stanley writes about cupidity, an all-too familiar sin of modern society, and builds a brilliant story set in modern Botswana. Kwei Quartey builds a brilliant story set in modern Ghana but the catalyst comes from the deep cultural past of Ghana and a sin that taints the country with the word “slave”.
VIOLENCE IS NOT OUR CULTURE is a “campaign that demands the end of violence against women justified in the name of ‘culture, religion, or tradition’ “. The media has made the world aware of human rights violations such as genital mutilation, lashing, and stoning. Quartey introduces a practice that is unlikely to be known in the western world : trokosi, wife of the gods. The practice requires that a female child is sent to be the sexual slave of a temple priest in order that the curse that has befallen her family may be lifted.
Once a girl becomes a wife of the gods, she must live and work in the shrine where, in some cases, she is used as the sexual partner of the priest. The girl remains in the shrine for a period ranging from a few years to life. At some shrines, even if the girl dies another girl from the family must replace her. Over the years, pressure from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), independent human rights groups and the government has seen about 3,500 girls released from the shrines. Abla, unfortunately, is not one of these girls, and in one month she may be sent to a shrine. She has just completed Junior Secondary School, and is looking forward to furthering her education. She and her father are aware, however, that this dream may not come to pass if she has to be sent to the shrine.