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Strange African Traditions Around The Girl Child

Despite Africa’s effort to be at par with their international communities, there are still traditions that hinder the success of achieving global goals, especially regarding the girl-child.

Below are some of these traditions:


A Borana woman from the Oromo community and her daughter. Photo: Trip down memory lane

In southeastern Kenya, a girl gets betrothed once she is born. It is the duty of the father of the girl to choose who best suits his daughter.

When the groom is selected, the father of the new groom ties a daraaraa as a sign. Despite the death of her parents, no man can marry her except the chosen one.


Amhara girls. Photo: Trip down memory lane

In Amhara, the maid trade is a common practice which affects over a three-quarter of girls in the region and see about 1,500 leave the country daily for greener pastures.

Once a girl menstruates, someone marries her off because it is a “sin” to remain unmarried. In these communities, a girl of fourteen years is overdue for marriage.

Some of these girls spending as “much” as three months in the marriage before getting a divorce. This ticket enables her travel to oil-rich countries as an illegal immigrant to become a domestic worker. While there, she remains obligated to send money to her parents. There is no fear of her getting raped because she has been “deflowered in a dignified way.”

Trokosi, Ghana

Trokosi. Photo: The Welles Report

In certain parts of Ghana, Benin and Togo, the Trokosi tradition still holds relevance. They dedicate girls as young as 12 to the shrines becoming properties of the chief priest in charge of the shrine.

Once dedicated, they bear the tag Trokosi. These girls fulfil his sexual desires, cook and work in the farms. Once the gods reveal that a family has committed an atrocity or need to pay for the sins of their forefathers, they are required to send a girl to the priest for pacification.

The tradition implies that they give girls to the chief priest to continue with the family’s atonement every generation. He is free to send her away when she no longer appeals to him.

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