‘GaDangme Global’ and ‘The GaDangme’ statement on the rite performed between a 63 year old Priest and a 12 year old child.

2nd April 2024

As a group that celebrates the Ga and Dangme culture, We are sad and disappointed with what has occurred over the last few days. 


A few days ago the head priest of Nungua made a decision to customarily ‘marry’ a 12 year old child. A child who had been groomed since the age of seven. For us as Ga people, and people who believe in the Ga culture this is not acceptable and not in accordance with the communal nature of our culture, which requires us to protect and and support members of our community and for our environment. For those in high positions our role is to care and improve our community, giving a better quality of life for all. This is not what is happening here. 


Let us address the points that have been made by various people and elders so far:



Image of Nungua Mantse during outdooringThis is not a marriage, it’s a betrothal, and the marriage will not be consummated until she is 18

Whether the marriage will or will not be consummated until she is 18 is irrelevant. We are not in agreement that a child will be in a lifelong relationship with a person who is old enough to be her grandfather. A 12 year old is not at the stage to make such commitments and life changing decisions  – less so when she is 7 (when the process originally started).




This was not a marriage, but a rite that is part of a long process. 

It has been suggested that what we had seen was simply a tradition that will allow the child to perform rites at the shrine of the Gborbu Wulomo. The final stage occurs at age 18, when she will be asked whether she would like to go ahead, and if so is then married to the Wulomo, and becomes intimate with him. At this point she will be 18 and the priest 69.


This is also unacceptable. This process started with this young girl at age 7. A seven year old cannot consent to a decision that will shape the rest of her childhood (which she will never get back). She will be groomed to serve in such an important capacity – which will affect her decision making later on.


Also when we look at the congratulatory message from the Nungua Mantse (King) and the people who attended this process (especially the MC) it is clear that they felt it was appropriate to use the term wife and to make sexual statements in public – which they were not reprimanded for. Just to add, I have been to a few traditions where if people were acting out of line, they were removed or reprimanded there and then – this did not happen here. 



The sexual comments made at the rite were exaggerated by the MC for entertainment.

Let us be clear. There is NOTHING entertaining about sexualising a union between a 63 year old man and a 12 year old girl who was selected at AGED SEVEN.


And note to exaggerate something is to over state a starting point. If the starting point was not sexual – putting on perfume with the purpose of attracting your husband would never have been the end comment and would have been so out of context that it would raise eyebrows – it didn’t.


Imagine someone going to a birthday party of a 12 year old child and the MC started making sexual comments to entertain attendees…wouldn’t you be horrified?



There are no virgins in Nungua above the age of 9.

There have been numerous comments about there being a lack of virgins above the age of 9, this is extremely concerning. The first thing that should have come to our leaders’ minds is who is taking the virginity of our 10 year old children – many of whom have not even started their period. How do we protect them and hold the people taking advantage of them to account? Instead it was rather used as an excuse as to why a 12 year old had been chosen (although she was less than 9 when the process started). 


Secondly I have been to traditions in Nungua where virgin girls are needed to provide assistance in the rite, including the sprinkling of Kpokpoi over the graves of our ancestors. When I went, those girls looked at least aged 14,15 (I have images and video to back this). Are they trying to tell me that over the past few years when this rite was carried out, it was 9 year olds carrying those pots? Those pots looked heavy to me even when I was there, no way a 9 year old child could do it. The girls I personally saw were older teenagers. 



It is our tradition, it cannot be changed.

If a Ga person now met a Ga person from 400 years ago, they would not recognise a lot of what we do. Cultures, Traditions and even language adapt and change over time – it is the paradigms that underpin the culture that rarely change – even then, if it doesn’t help the community move forward – it’s changed.


Our culture is about the community. Our Kpodziemo prayer emphasises looking after the child and the child will grow to look after us.  As Ga people we also have a big respect for the feminine with the creator being called Ataa Naa Nyungmor (Ataa representing the male) (Naa representing the female). The male and female are equal – this union here is not an equal one. And neither are we protecting the childhood of this child. Even back in the day when you were required to be a virgin to do the puberty rites, girls were having periods much later – and in some cases the rite lasted years! So the process begun during the latter teenage years. But now we are living longer, children have the chance to be children and we have knowledge regarding their brain development.This makes no sense.


Secondly the Nungua Mantse and the Gborbu Wulomo have both made adaptations themselves. I remember people asking why the Gborbu Wulomo didn’t have a beard when he was first enstooled. Back in the day, priests couldn’t leave a particular area – but it’s happening now, they are flying across the world. They couldn’t look in mirrors, but they drive and look into car mirrors. He was also one of the first people we noticed started calling themselves ‘Overlord’ of the Ga state. A term we hadn’t heard prior. The Mantsemei also dressed differently, and are also not supposed to be seen eating outside, we have seen him do so. So if the amending of such traditions can happen in these cases, why not to protect the life of a 7 year old child (who is now 12) in an era where our children are being sexualised and over exposed?



It’s a spiritual wedding to the Gborbu deity.

So a few questions we have regarding this:. 

  • When the ladies at the event were suggesting that she needs to beautify herself for her man – was this the Gborbu deity they were referring to? 
  • So a 7 year old can consent to a spiritual marriage? 
  • Can she then later choose to divorce this ‘spirit husband’? 
  • Can she then later on choose to marry another person not related to the Gborbu deity – or is she being saved for the deity? 
  • And finally when we read that the role will be for procreation – with who exactly?

We grew up learning about ‘Spirit Husbands’ and was taught that such a relationship can prevent you from being married to someone physically. Is this girl now prevented from future relationships as long as she is married to the deity? With the trade of being respect by the community?


And if we are not being clear – Paedophilia in all its forms is wrong, and is a criminal offence in Ghana.


For those of us who are Ga, this just illustrates why it is important for us as a people to learn about our heritage for ourselves, to understand the paradigms and ideas that underpin our culture. Because if we don’t, people will have us believing that we have no say and no choice but to commit paedophilia because it’s ‘culture’. This statement is offensive to those who have died for our nation, this is not the culture they died for or we fight for.


We are still very much learning but what we have found so far makes us proud Ga people, proud to have Ga blood. So proud that we feel it is our right to call out the abuse of our culture for personal reasons.


By  Naa Adjeley Tsofanye, Yasmin Amevor

Of GaDangme Global and The GaDangme

By Yasmin Amevor Naa Adjeley Tsofanye