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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

THOUGHTS OF OPETENTUM: When 'hell fire' rained on Latifa.

CAUTION: A Picture accompanying story may be sensitive. Use your discretion.

*18year old Latifa was promised of a descent employment in an undisclosed foreign country. 

Upon arrival in the destination country(which turnedout to be Kuwait), her passport and mobile phone were seized by her Kuwaiti sponsor. Nothing like a white or 'fine' blue-collar job as promised; nothing like a flexible work schedule, health insurance and sufficient salary.
A picture showing the burned body of Latifa

Soon, the princess of Alhaji Latif's family became a slave for a Kuwaiti household. From 6am(GMT) to 1 or 2am(GMT), she performed any menial house chore you can think of: cleaning, washing, scrubbing, baby-sitting among others. She was coerced to perform these task amidst frequent beatings, insults, sexual abuse, and non-payment of salary.This situation continued for 6 months.

Early this year, deep in the belly of the night, Latifa was asked to prepare a meal. In the process, the gas cylinder she was using exploded, severely burning her. She was later 'dumped' in a hospital till through a good Samaritan, a Ghanaian Ambassador heard of her situation and stepped in to assist her.

Recently, Citi FM held a discussion on how house helps are treated coldly in the Gulf countries but that unfortunately fell on deaf ears, I believe. To add insult to injury, there are mainstream local radio stations airing adverts which seek to lure youngsters into the situation Latifa found herself.

Gabriel in an interaction with Latifa
More on her plight will soon be featured on Metro TV news; and It's my hope others who wish trek the same risky path as Latifa did would take a cue from it. Even if only a soul is saved through my feature on Latifa, I'd be thankful.

***The victim, Latifa, returned to Ghana on Friday, 17th April with severe burns. Thanks to God, she didn't die as some of her colleagues did.

©Metro TV/Gabriel Obodai Torgbor-Ashong

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

THOUGHTS OF OPETENTUM : Naa Atswei - Shy or Scared?

The dogs barked, the cockerel crowed: then the harmonious voices of the birds followed. Soon it was daybreak, time was due to rise up and prepare for work.

Just when i was about opening the bedroom gate to step out, I was greeted by an unusual occurrence. A sudden soft and piercing voice proclaimed, "OB, please hold on I'm here!!!". Before i could even understand what was being said, I had already opened the gate.

All I saw thereafter was a lady, who appeared to be naked, jumping from the bathroom gate area into the second bedroom like a kangaroo in danger does. I was quite confused, so I stood there for a minute not knowing what exactly to do next.

The lady was Naa Atswei, daughter of a family friend. Fair with a 'slenderous' stature, Atswei has been here since early April to spend the Easter vacation with us.

Following that incident, she appears to be shy of me or perhaps, a sign of inconvenience. She now locks the 'Jerusalem gate' of our bathroom anytime she's about to take her bath. When she's done, you'd see a cloth around her.

Interestingly, not a single elderly lady in the house, from what i've been told before, locks the bathhouse door whilst bathing. So what at all has Atswei to hide?

What even beats my imagination about all these is that Atswei is a 'Ghana @ 50' + 1 lady, that is, 8years of age.

When I were of this same age, my cohorts and I, including girls, bathed together in public. All our 'valuables' were in full glare of everyone. Our favorite game was "Mami K3 Papa" of which we were sometimes naughty. But even with that, the necessity of being conscious of our true romantic feelings, and being typically concerned of the opposite sex wasn't really there, at least for me.

But today, just like Atswei, many 'tiny tiny little girls' in my former neighborhood at La, where Atswei stays, act like mature ladies in their 20s & 30s. These girls, with pride, would mention the names and 'manly' strength of their so called (teenage) husbands.

Some of these little ones are already either pregnant or teenage mothers. With a few others, the least said the better.

In all these though, I wonder if my 'tiny tiny little girls' are entirely to blame. In the neighborhood, competition at giving birth early, leading to a plush "AAJIEKPO" is the order of the day. Nothing like sex education, nothing like a positive role model to look up to.

Today, Atswei will be leaving us for La. I haven't been able to ask her why she becomes uncomfortable anytime I'm around. Well, it could be she's even scared of me and not necessarily shy. Whatever opinion Naa Atswei may have about me, I believe she needs proper guidance. I'd take the trouble to talk to her mother. If that fails, I'd just hope not to see Atswei as the latest mother in town the next time we meet each other.

Until then, my simple question is,  are children of today, the same as those of yesterday in terms of character? And how best can they be brought up? I've been wondering.

By Gabriel Obodai Torgbor-Ashong.
MTN-One Young World Ambassador.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How Ga leaders are failing their children!

My Grandfather, Mokobi -Tsotsoobi Amenong, in his usual conversation with me in his small Hut at Dadekotopon will often render his displeasure with the seemingly fallen standard of education among Ga children of today. He would proudly refer to his youthful days in the 50’s. Through him, I got to know of the deeds of some individuals like Lawyer Benjamin Quartey Papafio, Dr. Nanka Bruce, Sgnt Adjetey and Nii Amaa Ollenu.

Other individuals have shared in my grandfather’s stance, adding that most Ga children of today do not like attending school and end up becoming lazy towards work and sometimes miscreants. These people could not empirically substantiate their claim but I did not write off their case either.

My mind went wild as a result of their concern. Elsewhere in Ghana, we often hear of some traditional rulers’ support packages for teachers and students to promote education in their respective traditional areas. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about many of their counterparts in Greater Accra. If for nothing at all, my birth place, Dadekotopon, has over 4 tertiary institutions situated there, including Ghana’s premium University. Imagine the number of needy but brilliant students from my community who would have become graduates by now if our leaders had managed to secure at least 5 slots in the various tertiary institutions within their jurisdiction to support those students annually.

The proposal of a Ga Education Endowment Fund ushered in yet another developmental agenda for Ga Children. I became hopeful for a better future for youngsters in Accra. Thanks to the media, I saw a number of Corporate Institutions contributing to the fund with a promise of launching it in October, 2009. But what happened? Chieftaincy disputes as to who a Ga Mantse was largely ensured that the fund became a ‘still baby’. Accountability concerning the usage of the fund’s seed capital is yet to be known.

Another sad part of the story is the rampant sale of lands by our traditional leaders which has not birth any major development project for people of Accra. I wept when I saw in the Media how some young people, through the hands of a chief, got brutalized by the police as a result of confrontations over a portion of land recently. I wondered, if it was even worthwhile to risk our lives for leaders who care less about our welfare? Fellow young people, be the first to preach yourself after a seer prophesies to you.

If indeed we have to accept the said lukewarm attitude of Ga Children towards Education and work, then I believe Ga leaders must accept responsibility for that. Chiefs, with due reverence, should not just be custodians of our culture but true partners for socio-economic development in the Greater Accra region and beyond. Many Ga Elites, including some Political leaders from the region have distant themselves from their homes for far too long. This is the time for them to get closer to their folks and assist in addressing their developmental needs.

“A Sheep who thinks it is blemishing the wall by rubbing itself against it deceives itself: it destroys its own fur in the process.” If for nothing at all, I have learnt from the elderly that, ‘A disgrace to the mortar is equally the pestle’s”.

Our Cherished leaders ought to live up to expectation for children in Accra to get the best start in life. We look up to you.

By Gabriel Obodai Torgbor-Ashong
SRC-General Secretary
Ghana Institute of Journalism

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Activities heralding the 2013 Ghana Institute of Journalism-Student Representative Council (GIJ-SRC) elections have brought up a number of interesting developments. From a person being termed 'so Christianized', to a 'Drink Up'; heated debates at General Assembly, pseudos attacking personalities and writing in defence of aspirants they support, sudden upgrade of wardrobes, and issues with whose posters get to the trees first and other related stuff.

One of these developments, which I find quite worrying, is the seemingly monetized process that should lead a student to become an executive member of the SRC to serve his or her fellow students. The GIJ-SRC constitution may be explicit on the fact that one needs to settle any financial obligation before becoming an executive of the SRC: but ‘helloo!’, a great focus on this may let us lose the actual essence of ensuring good student leadership on campus. Borrowing the words of Comrade Yajah Jagri of level 200, ‘What is morally good to some extent is legally logical. The act that led some of the current leadership… is now described as satanic.’

Comrades, students stand to lose if student leadership on GIJ campus continues to be hinged on finances or money. There may be very competent and hardworking students who could really advocate for students' general welfare, but such students may be kept far from becoming leaders by the mere fact that they may not have the financial muscle to make things happen. Haven’t we by now known the true values and ‘colours’ of the aspirants to determine that certain circumstances, perhaps, beyond their control may not just aid them to fulfil certain obligations? Let me join my Ga folks to say that “Aleee mor leebi ni abaasu kane k3 kw3 ehi3 gb3k3!”

Already, some aspirants have complained about the exorbitant prices charged for the nomination forms. Some individuals may decide to clandestinely recoup their monies after assuming office and that certainly will not be to the benefit of students.

I want to believe that the omission of Miss Grace Asare’s name in the notice issued on Tuesday, 18th March 2013 by GIJ-Electoral Commission doesn’t necessarily mean she has been disqualified since there was nothing to indicate so. The GIJ-Electoral Commission is a nobel body: it should not do anything which will make students question its credibility, especially in crucial times like this.

Students want to serve with a clean heart and not to be ‘exploited’.

Experience, Nobility, Realism and Competency should be key determining factors in Student Leadership. Monies and other material stuff ought to be secondary! It indeed, should be about honey and not money. Shalom!

Gabriel Obodai Torgbor-Ashong
Google Student Ambassador
Level 300-Ghana Institute of Journalism   

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


 Meet members of Curious Minds in Action. Curious Minds is a Young People-led advocacy Organization based at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation. It advocates for issues that affect young people through its weekly radio programmes and community outreaches. The Organization won the 2008 best child radio programme award for Africa and at the Global level during the Celebration of International Children's Day of Broadcasting(ICPD) in New York. Take time to view their picture profile

Recruitment for Curious Minds! This ensures that the group always have members for their activities.

Pre-Production Meeting- a stage where Ideas are conceived and structured for radio programme

First Production by Curious Minds in Uniiq FM Studio. They talk about Child Rights!

Second Production in Joy FM studio.

Curious Minds does not limit itself to studio work. They organize Community-based programmes as well.

Post Production Meeting at GBC premises. A time meant to access outcomes of their programmes.