Trokosi is an Ewe word formed from two words: “Tro” which means god/deity and “kosi” which translates to slave. Trokosi is the practice where virgin girls are made slaves to shrines to make amends for the wrong committed by a member of the family. Although it was criminalised in Ghana in 1998, there has not been much enforcement and the practice still exists.
I never committed a crime
Yet I have become the atoning sacrifice,
The peace offering on behalf of my family.
The gods withhold their anger,
And the curses lose their power,
As long as I remain here.
My stomach wonders why it is always empty,
My aching joints taunt me
From dawn till dusk,
I slave in these godforsaken farmlands.
And at night, I become a sexual commodity.
None of the girls here are friends.
Competing for basic necessities,
Vying for the priest’s attention.
I am a glass of emotionless expression.
Existing but not living.
When I die,
Another virgin girl from my family will replace me,
And the cyclical wave of slavery will continue.
So what exists for me beyond despair?
– Ayeyi O.A