A Season Of Vanishing Genitals

In the past three weeks, fear and panic have gripped parts of Ghana. A legend of vanishing male genitals has been circulating, with a number of arrests made by the police of suspects. The dreaded spots so far are Kasoa, Awutu Senya, and parts of Eastern region. In all cases, though, no missing genitals have been proven, and suspected robbers or magicians have been set free. To older Ghanaians this should be a familiar story.

Its closest precedent was July-August 1997, when the spooky tale spread across the nation leading to mob attacks and lynching in crowded places. While this lasted, cultural norms involving bodily touch were frozen. Even the bravest among men would not take chances; hands were cupped around flaps, and protocol handshakes were sacrificed for fear of genital loss. The possible causes?

There had been an influx of immigrants from the subregion, and the fear mongering was perhaps an ‘aliens compliance order,’ cleverly crafted to free immigrant jobs for Ghanaians. But it could also be real black magic at work. At the time this happened, my pen was alive. Listen to my right hand in July 1997.

“Not the first time human body parts have been felt missing. Dentists are the first offenders after they have applied local anesthesia to your gum, and asked you to wait at the reception for your turn, which never comes.

The tooth extraction over, not only is your tooth gone. Anesthesia makes you feel your lips were extracted together with your tooth, and a momentary search for your lips may begin.

For those not quite used to wintry weather, a five minutes exposure in winter often ‘disappears’ your ears, and an occasional check with a mirror or hand touch could even be advised by the weather man. Who knows if disobedience may lead to ear loss. But it is not only body parts.

The Kattah family I knew in the early seventies were probably glad to be associated with a kinsman, Brigadier Kattah, who kept eluding the Acheampong government after an alleged overthrow plot. The story was simple. Brigadier Kattah would vanish anytime he was pursued by the security.

It was simply a matter of touching the wall, and he would find himself at the Aflao border probably with Kofi Awoonor. I met the legendary Brigadier Kattah not too long ago at a friend’s get together in New Achimota. A very simple, smallish man he was, and he only chuckled when I inquired about his mystical powers.

If a mere touch of the wall led to body displacement, Brigadier Kattah could very easily have caused a scare shaking hands at funerals in Anloga, or asking for directions at Makola.

Looking at the faces of chief mourners last weekend at a colleague’s funeral, you could see panic written across faces. In a moment, they would have wished they had the option to avoid serial handshakes with the long queue of sympathizers: each greeting followed by a handshake. What an ominous custom, where sympathy cannot be expressed without the risk of losing your male genital.

And what of the customary expression of gratitude after you have given your nsawa or donation at a funeral. A group of women has been specifically tasked to proceed in one dogodogo line, and shake hands with the kind donor, thereby causing his manhood to disappear or shrink, as an expression of the lineage’s gratitude.

But since anybody could be a victim or culprit, a good safeguard is possibly not putting yourself in a position where you will thank or be thanked, sympathize or be sympathized with; touch or be touched. Whether in Bawjiase or Madina, walking the streets these days can be scary; you can be lynched by a mob, or maimed by a simple cry of ‘Give it back to me.’

If the alarm blower has held his flap, you are in trouble. So are you jeopardized if you respond to a stranger’s quest for directions, or time check. For being a good Samaritan, this may cause you the loss of genitals, and you may find yourself placing a lost and found adverts on radio. Finder may be amply rewarded.

I am surprised the business acumen of the Ghanaian has not been roused. Let one insurance company start the business of insuring male genitals against ‘depreciation,’ and you will notice how long the registration queue. That is why the Sollatek stabilizer appears to have made it overnight. Sollatek insulates your electronic equipment against power surges, fluctuations and the like.

And do you remember the picture that comes with the bill board advert? A lineup of four or five defenders in a soccer game facing a free kick just outside the penalty box; their hands firmly cupped over genitalia.  The written advert simply says, “Protect your valuable property.”

No wonder taxi drivers and trotro ‘mates’ no longer take moneys directly from the passenger. Passenger fare may be left in a till provided somewhere near the driver. ‘Don’t touch me’ has been revisited.

But wouldn’t the mystery have been over if what was alleged to be missing, were a visible body part? Could victims, for instance have complained to the police about ‘my missing nose,’ ‘my missing chin,’ or ‘my missing jaw bone.’ Why is it never a missing something apart from the something?

That would certainly have made police investigations easier. It would simply have been a matter of pointing to your missing chin, or nose, without having to strip in front of the police or doctor, to display how little you are in spite of your big size, or how big you are in spite of your miniature size. Just imagine the extent one police station went, according to newspaper reports, inviting a lady to massage a ‘victim’s’ shrunk genitals into rising or awakening.

Ghanaian business acumen would one day lead to the upsurge of women genital entrepreneurs, whose mystical powers would lie in restoring missing organs for a fee. And here the restoration therapy would simply involve massaging the empty slot, whereupon the victim after a few minutes of ticklish sensation would exclaim.

“In the name of Jesus; I have found it.”

By Kwesi Yankah

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Chronicle’s stance.


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