Onetouch (real name Nana Kofi Yirenkyi) made headlines last year after accusations that he’d slept with his daughter, who was 10 at the time. The congregation of the church he founded, Jesus Blood Prophetic Ministries at Oblogo, Ghana, filled the courtroom during the trial to offer support for their supposed prophet, and the courtyard outside. They were devastated by the result of the trial. Some chose to look at his incarceration positively, though.
“God is the final judge, he will intervene,” he said, adding “Someone is responsible for the way the verdict has gone.” Pastor Nobleman Appiah, Assistant Resident Pastor, urged church members to continue to support the convict through prayers, adding that perhaps there was a purpose for which he was being imprisoned. “The inmates at the prison also need salvation,” he added.
There will be appeals, of course, and accusations that the case was mishandled and all the usual malarky used to deny the fact that a religious man can still be an abusive bastard who deserves what he gets.
Interesting reason why they support him:
It was gathered that Prophet Yirenkyi, after having sex with his daughter, releases his sperms into a white ‘miracle’ handkerchief and then uses the same handkerchief to clean the little girl’s vagina.
Family sources say the belief is that the handkerchief is the source of Prophet Yirenkyi’s miracle powers and that more people would flock to his church anytime he sleeps with the poor damsel.
So they got him for both incest and defilement, to do ten years for each crime. He came up with something pretty clever to say while they led him away, though, something that will likely rev up his followers:
“If I am the one who slept with my daughter, may the Almighty God kill me,”
And since god hasn’t done that…
Human rights activists applaud the outcome.
The Human Rights Advocacy Center (HRAC) on Friday described the judgment in the case the Republic verses Nana Kofi Yirenkyi ‘Jesus One Touch’, as a positive step in ensuring that the rights of all children are protected in Ghana.
“We believe that this case is an example of the ability of the criminal justice system to punish perpetrators of sexual abuse of children, no matter their age, sex or social affiliation,” a statement signed by Nana Oye Lithur, the HRAC Executive Director, said.
The statement said: “We hope that persons who sexually abuse children are punished by our law courts to serve act as a deterrent for other like minded persons in the community who continue to defile and rape our girls and boys”.
There’s a disturbing tradition in Ghana where families would willingly give a virgin daughter to a religious leader who’d then use and abuse the girl. These girls are called trokosis, slaves to a god.
Fetish priests who favor trokosi slavery view the practice as an effective means to keep people from breaking community norms. They perceive trokosi slaves as links between the gods and the family, reminding family members to lead moral lives. According to the priests, the trokosi slaves constitute role models, saving the entire family from punishment, and their example deters crime within communities. Yet, as Mark Wisdom, Executive Director of Fetish Slaves Liberation Movement, has pointed out, “If it is intended to serve as a check to crime, then we can say that it is not effective because it has existed since time immemorial but people continue to commit crimes.” Some families are so dedicated to the trokosi practice that they have sacrificed as many as five generations of daughters to the shrines. There are even instances in which the offense occurred so long ago no one remembers what it was, let alone who committed it.
It’s heavily rooted in fear and religious superstition, that giving a girl to the priest will save the family from hardship and keep the gods from wreaking havoc on them and their whole communities. Girls who escape or are let go are also thought to be unlucky and won’t be welcome should they try to come home. The article I quoted from is over ten years old now so I have no idea if many priests have been punished for still carrying on with this business. Hopefully so.
During a 1998 national workshop held in Ghana on the trokosi system, participants, including the Ghanaian Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Amnesty International, and the Ghana Human Rights Coalition, agreed that it would be wise to allow two years to educate fetish priests, shrine owners, and communities about the new law before prosecuting them under it.
Some activists offered shrines money in exchange for releasing slaves but that tactic worried others, in case shrines would just get more girls in the hopes of being paid more for all of them. Opponents support the shrines as beacons of morality. They also want to claim that religious freedom, as written into the Ghanaian Constitution, should be reason enough to let the practice continue.
I did find a more recent, albeit short, article outlining a proposed 10 year project to combat child abuse. Time will tell how successful that is, I guess. One area they’ll wind up focusing attention on will be northern Ghana, probably. There are camps galore in that area where those thought to be witches have been exiled. Whole families are sent to these places, including children who wind up uneducated and enslaved.
In the Kukuo witches camp in the Nanumba North District for instance, some 840 children are serving the 430 alleged witches camped there. Out of the number, only a little over 100 are enrolled in schools while the rest are engaged on a farm to work and feed their parents/relatives in the camp. This definitely is a situation which deserves urgent attention. In the Gnani witches camp also, some 894 children are in a similar predicament just for the alleged wrongs of their parents or relatives there.
So, while Onetouch’s touchiness has been dealt with, the human rights movement there is by no means finished.
edit Jan 24/10 — this I just found today, about the wife of One Touch and her devotion to him. Also:
About the young girl whose allegation resulted in her husband’s imprisonment, Agyeiwaa said “that girl behaves strangely at times.”
According to Mrs. Yirenkyi, the little girl some time ago confessed to her that she was a witch.
The girl, who is her step-daughter, once told her step-mum that she and her grandmother, also an alleged a witch, tried attacking her (Mrs. Yirenkyi) one night but they could not.
She said the little girl was also fond of describing herself as a queen in the spiritual world to her peers.
Mrs. Yirenyki claimed that she and her husband were trying to exorcise the girl’s witchcraft when the allegation of defilement and incest cropped up from nowhere.
Yeah, it’s a weird little witch girl’s fault.