Stories from Sebastian R. Freiku .
Fifty teenagers out of over 200 virgins screened from the Kumawu Traditional Area have undergone puberty rites (Bragro) at Kumawu in the Ashanti Region thus initiating them into adulthood.
The Queenmother of Kumawu Traditional Area, Nana Serwaah Amponsah, performed the rites to initiate the virgins at a ceremony at Kumawu last week, over two days, on Thursday and Friday.
She was supported by Barima Sarfo Tweneboa Kodua, Omanhene of Kumawu Traditional Area, and Prof. Yaw Nyarko of the Centre for Technology and Economic Development, who doubles as the Aboafohene of the area.
The modernised (devoid of nudity) form of rituals carried out amidst drumming and dancing, sought for the protection, blessing and fertility during the period of motherhood of the celebrants.
Traditional laws provide that no woman is allowed to get married without having gone through puberty rites, and that every young woman must remain a virgin before this rite is performed. These laws ensure that young women grow up disciplined enough to control their sexuality, and to prevent them from premature motherhood and unwanted babies.
As a result, any woman who gets pregnant or breaks her virginity before the rites are performed is sometimes ostracised, together with the man responsible for it, in addition to the imposition of a heavy fine.
The Kumawumanhemaa explained that the idea behind the reintroduction of puberty rites in the area is to tackle the rampant cases of teenage pregnancy.
According to Nana Swerwaa Amponsah, the ceremony would be an annual affair and that selected teens would be initiated every year.
She disabused the minds of people that the celebration of puberty rites is fetish, and explained that it marks the transition from the adolescent stage to adulthood, in accordance with Akan traditional law, besides according their families honour and respect and dignity.
Each of the adolescents who went through the puberty rites was presented with a sewing machine, two pieces of cloth, toiletries, and an undisclosed sum of money.
The sewing machines and cloths, estimated to cost GH¢25,000, were meant to provide vocational skills for the recipients and steer them into motherhood.