Crime: Battling Juju-Marabou Mediums

Published on 26th May 2008

Inspite of its logistic and manpower challenges, the Ghana Police Service has made a lot of strides. It is some sort of a star in innovative policing that thinks from within Ghana’s traditional values.

Pre-colonial Ghana or Gold Coast had some sort of traditional policing services though not in the structural sense of the Western world. In Maxwell Owusu’s Rebellion, Revolution, and Tradition: Reinterpreting Coups in Ghana, traditional institutions such as the militant Asafo organizations that would overthrow traditional rulers for violating traditional governance norms were kind of police service.

Owusu’s reinterpretation of Ghana’s 21 years of military rule from the perspectives of Ghana’s “traditional beliefs and practices, indigenous political ideology, attitudes and outlooks” also indicates that traditional policing was part of pre-colonial Ghana’s societies, a view that balances the overriding analytical viewpoints that Africans had no pre-colonial policing services.

Today, the Ghana Police Service is not only re-connecting with its traditional roots but it is also moving deeper to tackle certain traditional values that have been aiding crime. The arrest of a 40-year-old spiritualist for allegedly helping rob the Church of Pentecost in Accra's suburb of about US$ 2,000 is case in point. According to the Accra-based The Ghanaian Times, Ali Baba, the spiritualist, purportedly helped Philip Kwaku Ahwoa, 23, a labourer of the church and another to rob the church.

Analytically, most crimes from pick-pockets, fraudsters, armed robbers, roadside magician tricksters to money doublers are remotely influenced by juju-marabout mediums and other spiritualists.At this juncture, it is important to know that when the Ghana Police Service arrested leading armed robber, Atta Ayi, at Adabraka, a suburb of Accra, huge amulets and other spiritual paraphernalia, prepared for him by various juju-marabout mediums and spiritualists, were stripped around his body.   

The Ghana Police Service is bravely confronting the dreaded juju-marabout mediums and other spiritualists who are highly feared in the Ghanaian society for belief that they can wage spiritual reprisals from their dark-rooms. By arresting Ali Baba, the Ghana Police Service are not only putting such deep-seated superstitious fears at bay but also rationalizing parts of the traditional values that are deemed irrational and that have for long been aiding crime.

The spiritualists who have not been considered in the larger criminology thought have wrongly being thinking they are outside any moral responsibility for aiding criminals. At a certain point in West Africa’s history, juju-marabou mediums were virtually ruling the region from Mali to Nigeria. Just interview Mali’s top marabout medium M. Cisse and you will be shocked at the damages some juju-marabout mediums have caused Ghana and West Africa.

As no figures are available for the number of juju-marabout mediums and other spiritualists arrested for aiding criminals, the best way to measure it is to look at media reports and word of mouth. Juju-marabout mediums mostly work for the elites, criminal individuals and gangs. Most ordinary Ghanaians do not access them for money reasons. By playing the powers-that-be, the juju-marabou mediums escape responsibility for causing social dysfunctions that send places like Ghana’s northern regions in perennial conflicts and maldevelopment. Just ask Kwaku Sakyi-Addo (former BBC correspondent) of his coverage of the on and off  Bawku conflicts and you will be shocked to hear how the conflict is virtually driven by juju-marabout mediums and other spiritualists.

By battling of juju-marabout and other spiritualists in its fight against crime, the Ghana Police Service is helping refine some of the ancient inhibitions within the Ghanaian culture that have been stifling progress. By this act, too, the Ghana Police Service is transforming its administration of justice to include traditional values that have been stifling peace and progress. This should be part of the new approach to police training.

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