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HomeNewsNungua residents divided over alleged child marriage

Nungua residents divided over alleged child marriage

Residents and indigenes of Nungua are sharply divided over the alleged marriage of a child to the 63-year-old Gborbu Wulomo and overlord of the GaDangme state, Nuumo Borketey Laweh Tsuru XXXIII.

The Office of the Gborbu Wulomo-Shitse has explained that the child, Naa Okromo, thought to be 12 years old, is rather 16 years and by the customary rites had now taken on the traditional name Naa Yoomo Ayemoede.

The office said Naa Okromo would assume her official role fully as Naa Yoomo Ayemoede, one of the four religious wives of the Gborbu deity. While some found nothing wrong with the traditional rites, describing it as a symbolic marriage to the Gborbu deity, others cringed at the act which they believed only robbed the child of her fundamental human rights.

Paradoxically, most female natives were neck deep in support of the practice, saying it was a privilege and an important custom that must not be neglected or discredited.

Some men, on the other hand, outrightly condemned the rites, describing them as primitive.

A trader and resident of Nungua, Evelyn Naa Kortei, who spoke with the Daily Graphic during a visit to the community said the explanation given by the Office of the Gborbu Wulomo-Shitse that the young girl was married to the Gborbu deity and not the Wulomo should be accepted by all since it was a spiritual issue.

She said it was not right for any human to pass judgement since the Wulomo said the young girl was identified as a wife by the Gborbu deity. “I don’t think anyone is in a better place to criticise the Wulomo and his elders. Let us leave that judgement to God,” she said.

For her part, Naa Amorkor emphasised that the customary marriage of the young girl to the Gborbu Wulomo was nothing new.

“She is even lucky to have a man come forward to perform the necessary traditional rites. What about the many minors who are just impregnated by older men. We should rather encourage men to marry young girls so that we can end teenage pregnancy and reduce the number of women who are single parents,” she said.

Another resident, Nat Borketey, expressed concern about the fate of the little girl at the centre of the controversy.

“She is young and must be allowed to live as a child. Why should adults take such a decision which affects her life for her at this tender age”.

“I believe she should be allowed to grow to the age she wishes to marry or engage with the opposite sex and then she can make her own choice,” he said.

A man who lives near the Gborbu shrine said: “I will never allow my daughter to be subjected to such treatment.”

He said he doubted the explanation provided by the Office of the Gborbu Wulomo-Shitse, “because the explanation is coming after the backlash from the public. It is just to defend the action which is against the law and the rights of the child”.

He called on the authorities to take urgent action to protect the child and ensure that her welfare and education were not affected.

Another male resident of Nungua, who pleaded anonymity, said he was worried that the media were not focusing on important issues such as teenage pregnancy and the defilement of underage girls in the various communities across the country but had rather dedicated so much time to a customary rite which would not have any consequences on social development.

“There are 11 and 12-year-olds who are walking in communities with pregnancy. Most of them were defiled but nothing has been done about that. Let us talk about important issues,” he bemoaned.

Background 

A traditional rite performed at Nungua on Saturday, March 30, 2024, sparked controversy and raised concerns about its legality and appropriateness. The Office of the Gborbu Wulomo explained that the ceremony, known as the Buekpayoo, was conducted within the Gborbu temple to officially introduce the young girl and announce to the public that she was married to the Gborbu deity.

A video that went viral after the ceremony revealed that an underage girl was betrothed to the spiritual head of the traditional priest of Nungua, the Gborbu Wulomo.

Despite claims that the event was merely a traditional rite devoid of any marital implications, some critics argued that the public manifestation of the ceremony, including the exchange of gifts and references to marriage, suggested otherwise.

While the Office of the Gborbu Wulomo maintained that the ceremony was in line with customary practices, questions have been raised about its compliance with the laws of the land, particularly concerning the betrothal of minors.

In response to the outcry, the office vowed to reevaluate its traditional practices. “The events that unfolded on Saturday saw some excesses like all other events of which verbal misrepresentation and over-exaggeration by some people who took over the microphone after the actual MC was done with the presentation”.

“We debunk and disassociate ourselves from this misrepresentation and over-exaggeration, which without doubt, are the cause of this disaffection,” a statement from the Gborbu Wulomo Office said.

One of four wives

The office said it would also deal with “the faceless individuals” behind the viral publication of the ceremony and the vilification of the Office of Gborbu Wulomo. “We will deal with all those behind this when the dust is settled”, said the Osu Klottey Wulomo, Nuumo Kpeneku.

The office explained that the traditional rites performed over the weekend were a long-standing tradition which mandates that the Gborbu deity marries a virgin. The office explained that the Gborbu Wolumo, who is the spiritual priest of the people of Nungua, was mandated to have four religious and customary wives.

“He has three wives now. One is almost 100 years old, the second is in her 70s and the third wife is in her 30s, and the latest is Naa Okromo, who must be a virgin because of the role she will perform,” the Spokesperson for the Office of the Gborbu Wulomo-Shitse, Nii Bortey Kofi Frankwah, said.

He explained that when Naa Okromo is of age and wishes to get married, other rites would be performed to release her.

Source: Daily Graphic