The economic difficulty facing the country may be daunting even as measures are being instituted by the government in a frantic attempt to straighten aspects of national life.
The private sector has definitely been affected in no small measure. Some companies have folded up, while others have had to cut down on staff strength among other measures to deal with the challenges.
Easy way out?
In spite of the general depression that seems to have engulfed the nation, one group of people claim to be providing an easy way out for those who accept their offer.
They are mallams and spiritualists.
For some time now, there has been an upsurge in the activities of mallams and spiritualists on radio, television and outdoor publicity.
It is not uncommon nowadays to tune in to radio or a TV channel to hear mallams and spiritualists advertising and trumpeting the potency of their claims.
Their claims range from the ability to give “blood money” (locally referred to as ‘sika aduro’), solve spiritual attacks, marital problems, induce rapid office promotion, offer quick money and facilitate travelling abroad.
There are others who specialise in giving out lotto numbers with guarantees of the numbers ‘dropping’ (winning).
A 26-year-old entrepreneur, Kofi Adom, (not real name) told the Daily Graphic that he heard of one of these lotto mallams on radio, picked up the cell phone number advertised and decided to visit him.
His reason was because his business was going down and he needed some money to revive it and so the promise of winning the lottery urged him to seek the mallam’s assistance.
At the Ashalley Botwe shrine of the mallam on a Thursday, he said he was made to pay a consultation fee of GH¢100 after which he was admitted to the inner perimeter of the shrine where the mallam asked him what his challenge was.
After answering, he was directed to a pot containing water and some herbs where he was asked to wash his hands three times and in the process, speak out his problems.
Finally, he met with the mallam who gave him two numbers to go and stake but the mallam warned that he should never disclose the lotto numbers to anyone else the spirits would not work.
While there, Kofi said, he met another young man who had come with a fat envelope which he gave to the mallam.
When he was leaving, Kofi said he approached the young man and engaged in a conversation with him in the course of which he told him (Kofi) that he came to show appreciation to the mallam after he consulted him and successfully won a huge sum from the lottery.
The next Saturday, Kofi said he gathered the little money he had, totalling about GH¢800, and staked the two numbers.
When the numbers were called later that day, only one of the numbers came. The other number was a reverse, usually referred to by lotto specialists as ‘turning number’.
Kofi said he was heartbroken and went to bed on an empty stomach that night.
“The following morning, I called him and before I could tell my story, he said he was aware of what had happened so he gave me another two sets of numbers to stake but I didn’t do it”, Kofi recounted.
“Those numbers too”, he said, “only one dropped”. Kofi said he regretted his actions because he had been left poorer than he was (before visiting the Mallam).
However, there are persons who phoned into radio programmes testifying that they had consulted some of these mallams and had had their fortunes turned around.
But Ghanaians have been urged to be wary of mallams and spiritualists who appear in the media claiming to have powers that could make people rich overnight.
These claimants have been described as charlatans and fraudsters waiting to take advantage of people.
A Sociologist, Mr Albert Kpoor, the Founder and Head of the Gateway Worship Centre, Bishop Ben Allan Adjei, the Deputy Spokesperson of the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Armiyawo Shaibu, and the Director General in charge of the Public Affairs Department of the Ghana Police Service, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) David Ampah-Bennin, made the call in separate interviews with the Daily Graphic in Accra.
Upsurge in publicity worrying
The four described the upsurge in publicity in the media by persons claiming to have the powers to perform miracles as worrying and asked Ghanaians to be on their guard.
Bishop Ben Allan Adjei said, “They are workers of darkness. They only come to exploit and devour. Run away from them. They have nothing good to offer”.
Sheikh Armiyawo Shaibu warned, “be mindful of the fact that we live in a world of deception and the devil is using a number of deceitful people including some mallams”. There are genuine Mallams but those ones do not advertise.”
Mr Albert Kpoor advises that “if they could make people become billionaires overnight, then we should find the billionaires of this world in Africa and Ghana”. They are taking advantage of the vulnerability of the people”.
DCOP David Ampah-Bennin cautioned, “These are fraudulent schemes. Don’t trust them. They are causing havoc to the people. Don’t entertain them”.
The media, especially radio and television, have in recent times been broadcasting adverts from different categories of persons who claim to have spiritual powers to perform miracles, especially making people rich overnight.
Who is a Mallam?
Explaining who a Mallam is, Sheikh Shaibu, who is also the Greater Accra Regional Manager of the Islamic Education Unit of the Ghana Education Service, said the word “Mallam” was a Hausa corruption of “Muallim”, a knowledgeable teacher who was revered for his knowledge.
He said a section of Muslim scholars were specialists in certain mystical aspects of the religion and they normally tapped into those mystical powers to bring solutions to the needs of people in the Moslem community.
But the African quest for supernatural solutions to all problems, he said, had led to some mallams gaining prominence because they claim to do a whole lot of supernatural things.
“Some of the very serious things they claim they can do totally contradict Islamic religious values. There are some Mallams who claim they can kill. That is totally immoral and unethical. They indulge in certain magical practices that make them tap into the spiritual domain of satanic forces”, he explained.
Why the upsurge?
In explaining the upsurge in the phenomenon, Mr Kpoor said times were tough and that it was very normal that in people’s quest to find solutions to their problems, any avenue becomes possibility for them, adding that those claimants were also “cashing in on the situation”.
“Assuming we had a lot of jobs in the country and everyone had a job to attend to, no one would listen to these guys”, he said.
“It pushes one to the filthy pursuit of wealth that is not based on hard work. It discourages hard work and promotes corruption. It retrogresses society because we cannot have role models who see value in hard work that adds value to human society”, he added.
Signs of the end
In the view of Bishop Adjei, it was an indication of the end time, saying people had become so self-centred that they would go to any length to find solutions to their problems.
“And so these agents of Satan take advantage to exploit them. In the Bible, Paul entreated Timothy that we should not be naïve and that in the end time, there shall be difficult times”, he said.
Mr Kpoor, in prescribing solutions, said the people of Ghana ought to be conscientised to know that they needed to use a more scientific approach when dealing with them.
“I am not saying science can answer all our problems. There are some mysteries but our present economic situation is our own doing. We import and don’t export, thus creating jobs for people in other countries”, he said.
If the economy improves, he said, and people get educated and we rely on research to solve our problems, these things would also reduce, but until then, it will keep going up”, Mr Kpoor added.
Media should be cautious
DCOP Ampah Bennin called on the various media houses to be cautious so that in the quest to rake in revenue, they do not give their platforms to those charlatans to deceive Ghanaians.
“The onus lies on the media houses to do due diligence. When such people come to you with such claims, you can let the Police or the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) do a quick check on their claims before granting them your mass platforms”, he advised.
Sheikh Shaibu said as part of efforts to address the issue, the Islamic Council would engage scholars (genuine Mallams) whose speciality was in that domain to study the value of the services of those claiming to have instant transformational powers to expose their deception to all Ghanaians.
Bishop Ben Adjei said Jesus Christ still remained the answer in all situations and urged Ghanaians to trust in God and also work hard rather than depending on charlatans.