An old man whose teenaged daughter went missing for eight days after she was abducted in Ghana and married off to a man in Burkina Faso has laid bare what he described as the most grievous shock of his life.
The girl, who is a class prefect and the old man’s lastborn, was bundled at night across border in a “Boko Haramic” style last week out of her parents’ home at Asoegoom, a village deep inside the Upper East regional capital, and held at Geringo, a Sahel hamlet in the South Province of the French-speaking West African country.
“I have some relatives who are settled in Burkina Faso. One of the relatives brought some men from Burkina to assist me in harvesting my groundnuts. When they finished the work on my farm, I killed a ram for them and my wife prepared food for them. They ate and, then, left that night. Hours later, I discovered that my daughter was not in the house.
“We searched for her throughout the night. The following morning, somebody told us she was spotted being taken away by the men the previous night. My wife fainted at once. She collapsed. These were men who faces were not familiar to us. The day they came here was their first time to my house. When we called our relatives, they said she had been married to a man in Burkina Faso,” the elderly man, Akuribire Akureyariga, told Starr News in the local Gurune language.
In an unexpected twist to the development, a delegation from Burkina Faso appeared at Mr. Akureyariga’s house two days after the abduction. They came with some marriage rites items (two guinea fowls, kolanuts, tobacco and schnapps) and presented them to the grieving parents on behalf of the unknown man to whom the missing schoolgirl had been engaged in faraway Burkina Faso.
The angry-looking old man rejected the items strongly. The delegation assured him arrangements were afoot to follow up the first set of bridal rites items with cattle. In a swift reply, the elderly man told them to return his daughter immediately or, in defiance of his demand, face a repercussion in equal measure. The contingent left, taking the items along.
He believes the groundnut-harvesters-turned-child-captors were able to cart his daughter away without a scream because they used black magic to bewitch and to shut her up.
“My girl obeys me. She does not go out. She does not know even Bolgatanga. I have no doubt the men used juju (black magic) to hypnotise her and took her away. I’m expecting her back. And when they bring her back, I will show them that I, too, have juju. I will show them where the authentic juju is. They took me off guard. They took me by surprise. I wasn’t prepared,” he told Starr News.
The Man Slept with Me Twice in Burkina Faso— Abducted Schoolgirl
The old man received a word Tuesday from his relatives in Burkina Faso that his daughter would be reunited with him by Wednesday morning.
But he did not see the girl at the time he had expected her arrival. As he became more frustrated, he dispatched a team that included his aged wife to Geringo. The team got involved in an accident on the road to Geringo. Whilst the old man’s wife, who was injured near her left eye and in both legs in the crash, was receiving treatment at a Burkinabe hospital, the abducted girl appeared in the emergency ward, accompanied only by the same relative who had brought the men from Burkina Faso to harvest groundnuts in Ghana.
The men who took her away did not come back with her. Tears dripped and her lips quivered as she recounted her ordeal to Starr News.
“They told me they were taking me to my auntie’s house in Burkina Faso. They said they would bring me back. I didn’t know they had a different intention. When we got to Burkina Faso, I was taken to a house. They said that was my auntie’s house. But I didn’t see any woman there. I spent my first night in that house with a man. He only told me his name was Yaw. He had sex with me. He did not use a condom. He said he wanted me to have a baby for him.
“The following day, a man who said he was my auntie’s husband came and told me the man who slept with me was my husband. He said that was where I would always be. I spent three days there. He (Yaw) slept with me twice. I spent another four days at my auntie’s house,” she sobbed, wiping the tears with her fingers whilst complaining of recurring abdominal pain.
The old man was speechless as he looked intently at an emotionally bruised daughter and a physically crushed wife. He told Starr News he was too frail to mobilise police arrests of the perpetrators and too poor to afford how much it would cost to get justice.
“I’m not going to take it very lightly,” swore Victor Apomina, Assemblyman for Azorebisi, the electoral area that covers Asoegoom among other neighbourhoods. “If they (the abductors) fail to come on their own, we definitely would have to collaborate with the police to get them arrested and the law would take its course. The girl is just a teenager, not mature enough to go and marry. I’m surprised a man would have interest in this type of small girl, a 16-year-old girl in form one.”
In the Silent Grips of Fear in a Community of Teenage Wives
Asoegoom is a community already engulfed in teenage pregnancies and child marriage— a double-headed ‘monster’ which observers have blamed largely on lack of parental control.
“I don’t know how the parents are bringing up their daughters. If it’s not about pregnancies, it’s about child marriage. Oftentimes, they don’t tell anybody until things spin out of control. It is quite disturbing,” said the assemblyman with frustration in his eyes.
There have been countless instances in the community where girls at the basic-school level were punished for abandoning classrooms for funerals not related to their families and for leaving school premises to stroll around with loosely organised gangs of street boys only for their singlet-wearing boyfriends to storm the school and, with a rude tone and posture, demand justifiable explanations from school authorities as to why their girlfriends were punished.
Once upon a time, some adults pulled a practical joke on the girls in that community by openly telling them it was good to indulge in sexual intercourse— an activity most of them already were fond of in private— but not without condom use. Those adults promised to make some condoms available and announced a date for the distribution. The number of girls who turned up to beg in the open for the promised contraceptives was overwhelming.
“Early child marriage has gone beyond control here. In just two years, we have lost more than five of our schoolgirls to early child marriage. When the girls cease coming to school and we ask their parents, they often tell us the girls have been enrolled in another school. Later, you will see the same girls passing here either with pregnancies or they are carrying their own babies,” said a teacher in the community. His claims were corroborated by the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) Chairman of the Asoegoom Junior High School, Akawilii Agagma, who said stakeholders must sit up or watch the young talents wither.
Starr News spotted several teenage wives in the area, some heavy with pregnancies and the others carrying babies strapped to their backs. One thing that also gets the young adults in the community overexcited is when posters pop up inviting them to all-night jamborees. There was one of such posters nailed to a baobab tree near the only school in that village, announcing a harvest festival bash slated for the first Saturday of November, this year. As of the time Starr News was leaving the area, youngsters were trooping with joy to the foot of that tree to take note of the date, the rate and more.
Whilst observers decry such posters as destructive signposts leading young people into the life-crushing jaws of teenage pregnancies and child marriage, the feeble parents of the abducted class prefect are in the silent grips of fear— which is not about their daughter missing her instructional period whilst in Burkina Faso for 7 days. They are afraid, that after spending several nights in bed across the border with a man whose background and health status are not known yet, it might also soon be discovered that their daughter, who says she wants to read medicine in the future, has missed her menstrual period, too!
Source: Ghana/Starrfmonline.com/103.5FM/Edward Adeti