Ghana’s reputation abroad is one of a stable democracy, with a relative healthy economy, albeit plagued by problems which are characteristic for a developing economy: low incomes, lack of jobs, shortage of capital, to name but a few.
However, there is another Ghana, a traditional Ghana, where people believe in the power of ‘juju’, in superstition, and where criminal people do not hesitate to attack their fellow countrymen for the purposes of ritualistic activities, even if this means that the victims die in the hands of their torturers and murderers.
The four cases cited below illustrate this. The ritualistic murders took place in various parts of the country.
In the past I have given ample attention to the Kasoa case which occurred to the west of the country’s capital Accra (Greater Accra region). All murder cases are tragic but the Kasoa case even more because of the background of the young murderers. The Abesim murder which made two victims, two boys of 12 and 15 years old, took place in the Brong Ahafo Region. The Mankassim murder case is situated in Ghana’s Central Region (Ashanti Region), between Cape Coast and Winneba. I will report more on this case in the next few days. Finally, the gruesome ritualistic murder in Wa, in the Upper West Region.
Tthe reader is warned that the graphic details of the murder(s) may be shocking. (webmaster FVDK)
Four recent ritual murder cases: Abesim, Kasoa, Mankessim, Wa
The article below pays attention to the first study of its kind (at least, as far as I know) that gives us reliable and in-depth information on the scale of ritual murders in a West African country as well as details pertaining to the ‘how and why’ of ritual killings in this country, Ghana. The author, Emmanuel Sarpong Owusu, is a law and criminology researcher at Aberystwyth University and a lecturer at Arden University (all in the United Kingdom). He recognizes that the reported ritual murder cases which were analyzed, and which were all reported in three local Ghanaian media outlets in the 2013-2020 period, may be only the tip of the iceberg due to a number of factors which he explains in the study.
The author studied and analyzed 96 ritual murder cases (reported in the 2013-2020 period) involving approximately 116 victims including 62 children. This means an average of 16 ritual murders including 9 child victims each year – in Ghana only, a country with a population of about 30 million. Significantly, the study shows that ritual murders form approximately 1.6% of all the murders chronicled in the country annually.
The study is entitled ‘The Superstition that Dismembers the African Child: An Exploration of the Scale and Features of Juju-Driven Paedicide in Ghana’. The 42-page study, in volume 60 issue 1 of the ‘International Annals of Criminology’ by Cambridge University Press, has been published in open access for which the publishers are to be commended. It is available in both HTML and PDF formats at: https://doi.org/10.1017/cri.2022.2 or click here. (webmaster FVDK)
Over 16 ritual murders occur in Ghana each year, a recent study shows
Published: August 23, 2022 By: Vincent Tutu Bawuah – Modern Ghana
Juju-driven homicide or ritual murder has been the subject of many media reports in contemporary Ghana. However, very little is known about the prevalence/magnitude and features of this crime in the country, as national data sets on the ritual murder phenomenon are presently non-existent.
To help address the problem relating to the paucity of information on ritual murder, Emmanuel Sarpong Owusu (also known as Black Power), a law and criminology researcher at Aberystwyth University and a lecturer at Arden University (all in the United Kingdom), has conducted a dynamic study on juju and ritual paedicides/pedicides (i.e. killing children for ritual or occult purposes) in Ghana, the first of its kind in a West African setting.
The study sought to establish the scale and identify the primary features, motivations, and socio-cultural, religious and economic contexts of ‘ritual paedicide’ (a phrase coined by the researcher himself) in contemporary Ghana. It also examines the criminal justice system’s responses to such murders.
To realize the defined aim, an in-depth analysis of ritual homicide cases/reports publicized in three local Ghanaian media outlets (the Daily Graphic, Ghanaian Times, and Daily Guide) between September 2013 and August 2020 was carried out. Semi-structured interviews involving 20 participants were then conducted to gain additional insights into key aspects of the results of the media content analysis.
The following are some of the key findings of the study:
A total of 96 reports/articles on ritual murder were extracted from the websites of the three media outlets perused, and this involved approximately 116 victims. Out of the 116 victims, 62 were children. This means that at least 16.5 ritual murders involving approximately 9 child victims occur in Ghana each year. The study also indicates that ritual paedicide forms approximately 1.6% of all the murders chronicled in the country annually. The researcher however admits that the number of ritual paedicide cases identified in the selected media outlets may be only the tip of the iceberg due to a number of limitations highlighted in the study.
Most ritual paedicide victims (over 79%) are children of low socio-economic backgrounds in rural and semi-rural communities. There is no significant difference in the number of boys and girls murdered. Blood, the head, the limbs, and the private parts are the most sought-after body parts. Several reasons have been suggested for this trend. Ritual paedicide cases were more prevalent in the western part of Ghana than in other areas of the country. A reason for this development has been suggested in the study.
Poor parental supervision is a significant risk factor for ritual paedicide. Over 70% of the victims were kidnapped while playing outside their homes unsupervised, going to school or fetching water from a stream unaccompanied, or running errands for their parents or other family members. Though letting children under 10 years roam about unsupervised appears to be a normal practice in most African communities, the study cautions against it.
Most ritual murders involve multiple perpetrators, and a number of factors have been offered to explain this trend. Most perpetrators and prime suspects are males, aged between 20 and 39 years, mostly unemployed or financially handicapped. However, the study does not rule out the involvement of rich and educated people who are highly likely to hire others (ideally, poor or unemployed youth) to commit the barbaric crime rather than doing it themselves.
Unlike other forms of homicide, perpetrators of ritual paedicide are strangers nearly as often as being family members and acquaintances. Fathers, stepfathers, and uncles are the dominant culprits in cases where victims and perpetrators are related.
The most dominant motivation for ritual murder in Ghana is pecuniary gain. Among the key factors that account for the prevalence and persistence of ritual murders in the country are widespread unemployment and concomitant economic privations, obsession with juju, the increasing popularity of ‘cyber-criminality’ and the so-called Sakawa Boys, exposure of Ghanaian youth to African movies that portray juju and juju rituals as an efficient wealth-guaranteeing religious practice, illiteracy, and the emergence of a new ‘consumerist ethos’ that has engrossed the Ghanaian society and which is marked by the unrestrained quest for material success and the flamboyant display of luxury.
The majority of perpetrators are not apprehended or even identified by law enforcement agencies. There is evidence of police laxity in investigating and prosecuting cases of ritual pedicide in Ghana.
The study, entitled ‘The Superstition that Dismembers the African Child: An Exploration of the Scale and Features of Juju-Driven Paedicide in Ghana’, makes a significant contribution to the body of knowledge. It is highly significant as it breaks new ground and provides a foundation for further informed engagement with the ritual paedicide phenomenon in Africa.
The full study (a 42-page article) has been published (open access) in volume 60 issue 1 of the ‘International Annals of Criminology’ by Cambridge University Press. It could be accessed in both HTML and PDF formats at: https://doi.org/10.1017/cri.2022.2
Ritualistic activities and ritual murders seem to be on the rise in Ghana. Yesterday I referred to some recent cases. However, ritual killings are nothing new in this West African country, as the Ghana Web article of August 29 (presented below) illustrates.
Regrettably, most links to the articles on ritual murders of the 2006-2012 period (referred to above) have disappeared. It is for this reason that I’ve changed methods on the present site where I am including an exact copy of the articles mentioned reporting ritual murder cases (‘copy-paste’). In respect of the source used I am always including a reference to the source and the author of the article(s).
Soon more developments in the ongoing trial of the accused ritual murderers in the Kasoa ritual murder case, two teenagers (webmaster FVDK).
Ritual killings for human parts: these cases have shaken Ghana since the 1980s
Published: August 29, 2021 By: Ghana Web
The 1980s killings:
Charles Ebo Quansah, The Strangler The following two sections report on a notorious serial killer and not on ritual murders and have for this reason been deleted by the webmaster (FVDK).
More on these ritual killings in tomorrow’s posting (FVDK).
News about ritualistic activities in Nigeria abound. Nigeria is, as we all know, Africa’s most populated country. Hence, for that reason it is not surprising that the country ranks Number One in ritual murders, commonly referred to as ‘money rituals’ in this West African country.
The next few days I will present more articles on these crimes, because that is what these activities are. Cruel murders, claiming the lives of innocent people, young girls, boys, children, elder people, terrorizing the local communities. And why? – Just for superstition reasons, the belief that these practices will enhance one’s wealth, health, prestige or power. (webmaster FVDK)
Ritual victim’s head, hand sold to native doctor for N130,000
Published: December 19, 2020 By: Vanguard, Nigeria – Ozioruva Aliu
THE family of 35-year-old Eneshero Sunday Daudu from Igarra, Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo state who was declared missing about a month ago and later found dead and buried in a shallow grave by persons who have confessed to have used parts of his body for ritual has demanded thorough investigation and prosecution of all those involved. After weeks of uncertainty when Eneshero was declared missing in Koko, Delta state where he had visited his sister for a burial event, the family had hoped that he would soon find his way back believing he must have missed his way especially as he was said to have called a friend in Igarra that he was on his way back home but it was never to be.
The family therefore lodged a complaint with the police about his disappearance and also assisted the police in the investigation. Last week, their efforts paid off as a 25-year old Peace Onoshakpokaye who was arrested in connection with the alleged killing and dismembering of Eneshero was said to have made confession. been stranded.
According to a police source, the arrested suspect confessed that: “the deceased became stranded around 7 p.m. around Koko junction axis of the Benin – Sapele Highway in Delta state when the vehicle he boarded to Benin City developed a fault. In the course of waiting for another vehicle by the roadside, some persons approached him and asked him to follow them. We learnt that the deceased put up some resistance, but he was dragged to a large trench at the roadside and was murdered on the spot by four persons. His head and hands were severed and later taken to a native doctor in the locality for alleged money rituals.”
The said principal suspect later took the police team and health officials to recover the body that was already decomposing and he was said to have confessed that the body parts were requested by a man in Koko, Delta state who paid them N130,000.
The Edo state commissioner of police, Johnson Babatunde Kokumo who confirmed the incident said the young man was abducted and murdered in Delta state but the police in Edo state command intervened because he was declared missing in Edo and promised that a dragnet had been extended to all parts of the country in order to arrest the fleeing gang members.
A family member told Saturday Vanguard: “It has been a traumatic one month for the family since he went missing. He had attended a burial ceremony in Koko where his sister also stayed. He left his sister’s house in the morning of the fateful day and his sister thought he would be back home but that was the last seen of him. They waited patiently and they concluded that he may have gone back to Igarra but calls to his phone were no longer going through and he did not arrive at Igarra. The last conversation was when he called a friend in Igarra that he would soon arrive but he never came. We first reported the case in Igarra police station and later at the state command in Benin City where investigation began by the police which led to the situation we are in now.
This incident was carried out by a gang but only one person has been arrested, so we are calling on the police to ensure that all the other persons involved are arrested and brought to justice.
“Eneshero was a hard working young man whose elder brother stays abroad. Eneshero has been helping him to take care of the home. The news devastated all of us in the family, particularly his elder brother who had to vowed a financial reward for anybody who was able to his missing brother until we got to this sad point. The dead cannot be brought back to life but the only solace we will have is for the authorities to ensure justice for our late brother”.
Yesterday I elaborated on a traditional belief in trial by order in Liberia (‘sasswood’). The firm belief in people who have magical powers – wizards, witches, ritualistic killers, also native doctors and herbalists – lies at the base of what follows. The citizens of Picnicess District in Grand Kru County have asked the famous traditional herbalist Tamba Bundo for help. Reportedly, over the years, they have suffered from mysterious disappearance and ritualistic acts leading to the loss of at least 56 lives. Hence their appeal to Tamba Bundo to help expose the people responsible for these unexplained disappearances and deaths.
Their appeal for help was taken seriously by highly placed government officials such as the Superintendent of Grand Kru County, Madam Doris N. Ylatun, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Varney Sirleaf, and a legislator, Dr. Peter Coleman, Senator for Grand Kru County. In one way or the other they became involved in this traditional approach to solve a security problem in the area and to remove the anxiety of the Picnicess Community.
Allegedly, Chenakaleh in Picnicess District, Grand Kru County has witnessed between 40 and 50 mysterious deaths; among the victims we count two boys who went fishing and a Catechist of the St. Jude’s Catholic Church. If true this represents a serious security problem. Apparently, the country’s security forces have failed so far to apprehend anyone linked to one or more of the mysterious deaths or disappearances. It is important and significant to note that all three officials mentioned above have accepted the failure of regional and/or national security forces to intervene effectively.
Many questions emerge following the appeal of the Picnicess citizens. What did really happen in their community? Who were involved? Why didn’t the police arrest one or more suspects? Was there a cover-up, if yes, why, and who were (was) implicated? Of course it is very likely that it is just a coincidence, but could there be any relation with the forthcoming elections? It would not be the first time in Liberia’s history, but I wish to emphasize that this is only a theoretical thought; we have to be very prudent in pointing fingers without any substantial evidence or indication. There is no reason to suspect any particular person.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, It is a remarkable fact that the people of Picnicess District appeal to a native doctor for help to solve their security problem.
I must conclude that the citizens of Picnicess have no confidence in their government to protect them and to maintain the rule of law in their community. They prefer the protection and services of a traditional herbalist. This should be a wake-up call for the government of President George Weah, a Kru-Liberian who hails from this county. Let’s hope that this indeed will happen though for more than one reason I fear nothing will happen that will improve this sad and shameful situation (webmaster FVDK).
LIBERIA: Senator Coleman breaks silence over witchcraft activities in Picnicess, calls on herbalist Tamba Bundo to continue his work
Published: August 27, 2020 By: Global News Network Liberia – Emmanuel S. Koffa, GNN Correspondent, Grand Kru County
Dr. Peter Coleman, Grand Kru County Senator has finally broken silence over witchcraft activities in Picnicess where a native doctor who is currently doing a cleaning up work to expose people believed to be witches and wizards who reportedly have been killing innocent people, said the County Legislative will support the traditional herbalist Tamba Bundo activities in the county.
Speaking to Grandcess news on August 25 2020, Senator Coleman said, the Grand Kru County legislative Caucus acknowledged the good work of the traditional herbalist Tamba Bundo, and further stressed the need for the caucus to allow Tamba Bundo to perform his detail in the county without fear and favor.
Senator Coleman further noted that, Tamba Bundo will be giving a strong support by Caucus by providing effective security protection in the execution of his duty while in the County performing his traditional mandate.
Senator Coleman statement comes in the wake of misinformation that the Grand Kru County Caucus was not in the know, and has no interest in the traditional herbalist Tamba Bundo to perform traditional activities in the County aimed at bringing relief to the people of Picnicess, and Grand Kru County in general.
He disclosed that a delegation of the national council led by former chief-wing of Grand Kru people Swen Wleh will be coming to the county in an effort to guide the traditional ordeal in Picnicess with herbalist Tamba Bundo. He however maintained that, at no time the Caucus stop the ordeal as it is being alleged in the county. Meanwhile, Senator Coleman is asking the people of Picnicess to remain calm as all will be done to ensure that peace prevails in the fishing community.
Picnicess citizens say herbalist Tamba Bundo is doing well by exposing wizards and witches
Published: August 24, 2020 By: Global News Network Liberia – Cholo Brooks
Residents of Picnicess, Grand Kru County are calling on Liberian government through the Ministry of Internal Affairs to allow Tamba Bundo, a herbalist who was hired by citizens of the County to help expose those involved in ritualistic activities by killing innocent people through witchcraft.
Since his arrival in the county, according our Grand Kru County Correspondent, Tamba Bundo, the herbalist has been making significance improvement by exposing people believed to be wizards and witches who have reportedly led to the death of innocent people in the County.
Some of those who have been exposed as witches and wizards through the magical performances of Mr. Bundo are also demanding that he remain in the county to continue his work, and further expose the rest of their colleagues who are involved in the killing of innocent people in the county for ritualistic purposes.
Recently, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Varney Sirleaf announced that the ministry is not in the know of Mr. Bundo’s activities in the county, and further called on him to return to Monrovia for further interrogation.
But speaking to reporters in the county prior to the commencement of his operations, Mr. Bundo displayed documents from the Ministry of Internal Affairs to reporters which give him the authority to perform such activities at any location.
But with this latest development from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, residents of the area who spoke to GNN said they are saddened to hear that Mr. Bundo has been recalled, stressing that this move by the Minister may have been some members of the county legislative caucus who are allegedly behind such action.
Speaking to residents in the county, herbalist Bundo assured them of his return following consultation with his bosses at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, adding, “Please be patient I will come back to continue my work, don’t worry I will come back to continue my work”, Mr. Bundo told residents of the county.
Over the years, the people of Picnicess have suffered from mysterious disappearance and ritualistic acts leading to the loss of at least 56 lives. These inhumane acts have created fears in the hearts of the residents and nearby communities’ members as well as scaring away investors from developing interest to do business with that community.
This act which is becoming a culture or tradition in that part of Grand Kru County has reached an alarming stage thus leading the people of Picnicess to write a petition to the local county authority headed by Superintendent Doris N. Ylatun.
The petition which followed the disappearance of two boys who went fishing and the death of the Catechist of the St. Jude’s Catholic Church, sought justice for the inhumane and devilish acts that have been going on in that community. In the letter of petition, the community requested the presence of Herbalist Tamba Bundo to come and liberate the people of Picnicess from the hands of witches, wizards and ritualistic killers.
In an interview the county’s Superintendent Madam Doris N. Ylatun said: “Upon receiving the letter of petition from the Picnicess Community, I immediately informed and notified my boss Minister Varney A. Sirleaf the minister of Internal Affairs, about the request of the people of Picnicess.”
She continued that the notification, met the ministry’s approval of the request made by the people of Picnicess and promised to send the herbalist. The Superintendent said the arrival of the herbalist delayed because of the coronavirus Pandemic. In the interview Madam Ylatun said, on August 15, 2020, she received a letter from herbalist Bundo which is a permit letter from the Ministry of Internal Affairs specifically the Traditional Council mandating Herbalist Bundo to clean and protect the Picnicess community.
As the herbalist was about to commence his operation in the county, a release from the Ministry of Internal Affairs was seen on social media dating August 17,2020 indicating that the ministry did not licensed or ordered any herbalist within or around Liberia to carry on any activity. The Press Director at the Ministry of Internal Affairs Abraham S. Kromah confirmed that the ministry has not ordered Tamba’s operation in the county; adding that an investigating team is to arrive in the county for proper and further investigation into the matter. He made the statement in an interview via mobile phone on Grandcess Radio.
This statement brought down the faces of citizens in Picnicess into total tears and sadness.
Meanwhile herbalist Bundo in an exclusive interview with a team of reporters confirmed that he was licensed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In the interview, he displayed before the team of reporters the license that was given or awarded to him by the Ministry of Internal Affairs; adding that he does not have a copy of the permit as he has turned it over to the County Superintendent Madam Doris N. Ylatun.
The license shows that herbalist Tamba Bundo was licensed on the 18th day of March AD 2020, recommended by Chief Swen Wleh as well as been approved by the Chief of the Traditional Council of Liberia Chief Zanzan Karwo.
While in a mood of heartbrokenness, a three men delegation representing the Picnicess community appeared on Grandcess Radio breakfast show “Good Morning Grand Kru” on Friday August 21, 2020 to appeal to the local county authority and the county’s Legislative Caucus to help in talking or having dialogue with the Ministry of Internal Affairs to grant or allow Tamba to continue his work in Picnicess and the County.
The delegation on the radio program said they foresee genocide in that community if the herbalist is not allowed to perform the traditional rite he have started adding that this might leave some families to go into extinction. They narrated that people have already started fleeing the community for fear of their lives. A member of the three men delegation commented that “What is the stance of the government into this matter as the lives of the majority in Picnicess are in danger knowing that the government is establish to protect lives and property.”
The Ministry of Internal Affairs is now left with the decision to allow Tamba Bundo to continue his operation in that part of Grand Kru County.
Chenakaleh in Picnicess District, Grand Kru County, has witnessed mysterious deaths in recent days a Catholic Church brother, Joseph Nyenplue, totaling 40 on the 10th of July this year. To avenge the wrong on the perceived witchcrafts, people of the district have invited Witch Doctor Tamba Bundoo to challenge, and they (people) are optimistic that his intervention will ease the catastrophic situation confronting them in the district.
The Daily Observer has gathered that ‘Tamba’ was on Monday, August 17, expected to begin cleansing Chenakaleh of mysterious deaths, demonic attacks, and other sicknesses after a weekend discussion with Grand Kru County Superintendent Doris N. Ylatun and other officials.
It has been gathered that in order to avoid stigmatization and protest over the 40 persons who died over the years, Tamba has been instructed by the County Leadership to only consecrate Picnicess against any further witchcraft activities — meaning anyone who gets involved from henceforth in any witch activity after his cleansing exercise will “confess and die.”
It may be recalled that the unexplained July 10 death of the late Nyenplue caused Picnicess Community to petition the County Leadership through a protest seeking justice and nemesis.
According to reports from Picnicess, Tamba has invited the citizenry to witness his performances.
It might also be recalled that Grand Kru County Superintendent told the Daily Observerexclusively that there has been a spate of mysterious deaths of people since before her appointment at the administrative helm of the county in 2018, and recently in her tenure, at least five unexplained deaths occurred, bringing the death toll to 40.
She said killings are only done in Chenakaleh and the residents believe that not much has been done to find those behind the recent killings. Therefore, they are demanding a witch doctor, popularly named “Tamba,” to uncover the witches and cleanse the community.
“The County Leadership has agreed to the request of Chenakaleh to cleanse the community from witchcraft activities, ” Superintendent Ylatun said.
“We are expecting Tamba in the county soon, and we are hopeful that the mysterious killing will come to an end,” said Superintendent Ylatun.
The Superintendent indicated that the first appointed commissioner of Picnicess in 2018, Tokpa Geplah, also died mysteriously.
The late Commissioner allegedly disappeared en route to his house after fishing and up to his time, his body is yet to be found.