Slavery at Kpong: Women stand accused


Some women at Kpong, near Odumase-Krobo in the lower Manya Krobo District of the Eastern Region, have been accused of engaging in acts that are tantamount to slavery.

According to Manya Maku, a sub queen in the Kpong traditional area, the situation was very serious and even though she was doing all that she could to curtail it, it was getting out of hand. She has therefore called for legal assistance to check the negative development.

Manya Maku said some so-called ‘abolo mistresses’ extorted money from fried fish, lobsters and abolo (corn cake) sellers before allowing them to do business in the area, an act she described as slavery. The exploited hawkers, she said, needed urgent help from the International Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA) to take them out of servitude.

The queen was speaking at a public education forum on domestic violence organised, by FIDA at the Kpong lorry station. The programme which was well attended by the people in the area especially the ‘abolo’ sellers, was sponsored by Womankind UK, a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

The Association of Sister Watch, a sub-paralegal group of FIDA for the Kpong area, was also inaugurated.

Manya Maku, who gave the keynote address, observed that what was happening was tantamount to cheating, extortion and abuse of the rights of the victims, which called for serious legal intervention, adding that though slavery was abolished, some women in the area had reintroduced it in another form.

Explaining the situation, the queen said anybody who wanted to sell ‘abolo’ in the area was directed to ‘serve’ under someone who had retired from the ‘abolo’ trade. The new seller was compelled to pay between GH¢15.00 and GH¢30.00 to the retired “mistress,” either weekly or monthly until the “mistress” dies.

According to the queen, even when the ‘mistress’ died, the new ‘abolo’ seller would continue to ‘serve’ the husband and children of the deceased ‘madam’. Again, for a new comer to be accepted, the leader demanded GH¢40.00 and a bottle of Schnapps.

Manya Maku said the exploitative acts of the so-called leaders were denying the other women, who were willing to work and feed themselves and their families, the opportunity to make enough money to meet their needs. As a result, she said, some of the young ladies engaged in unhealthy activities’.

Fifteen victims of the alleged slavery, who spoke to The Mirror, confirmed the story amidst tears. They gave thanks and praises to the Kpong area queen whom they described as their “saviour”.

They said at a critical time when they were prevented by the ‘mistresses’ from selling, amidst threats, the queen ensured that they could sell to earn a living.

Most of the victims said they had been serving their “mistresses” for between four and 10 years and added that they paid a lot of money to them, resulting in poor profit, weak capital. for their businesses.

One of the victims, Grace Aku Kudiabor, noted, “when I was very young I heard there used to be slavery, where the whites bought our great grandparents to America which was later on stopped, but what we are going through at Kpong now in an attempt to feed and clothe ourselves is worse than the slavery of old”.

When The Mirror contacted Madam Faustina Anaglate, a leader of the ‘abolo’ sellers who also stood accused, for her comment, she got furious and said nobody could interfere with any action she took because she had been in the ‘abolo’ business for many years without any external influence on her actions.

Madam Susan Ayeetey, Resource Mobilisation Manger of FIDA, described the situation as totally wrong, inhuman and an abuse of human rights. She said everybody was free to trade and there was no need for the ‘abolo’ sellers to be forced to adopt “mistresses” and pay money to them. She urged the paralegals in the Kpong area to intensify the public education on the abuses of human rights in order to curtail the situation.

Abudul Razak Mohammed Zabado, an opinion leader who chaired the function, said Kpong was inhabited by different people with different cultures and characters and that there was the need for the paralegals to educate the people well in order for them to know much about human rights and their abuses.

Source: The Mirror