Adidome Training Center -- A vocational training center aimed primarily (but not restricted to) provide vocational skills training for former trokosi slaves and their children, operated by the NGO International Needs Ghana in the town of Adidome (N Tongu District, Volta Region, Ghana). Some of the skills taught are hairdressing, batik, baking, catering, dressmaking, soap making, and kente weaving. Rehabilitation and retraining are necessary after the slaves are liberated because most trokosi are denied even basic education and normal family life which would have taught them the skills necessary for life in their culture. The goal of the training center is to enable former trokosi to make a decent living and to become contributing members of society following liberation.
Former trokosi slaves in dresses they made at Adidome Vocational Training Center
African Traditional Religion (ATR) -- All trokosi slave shrines are part of a broad set of beliefs and practices called African Traditional Relgion or ATR (although not all shrines of ATR practice slavery). ATR practices what would commonly be known as animism, or the worship of many spirits, often spirits associated with nature as well as ancestral spirits. Although virtually all forms of ATR acknowledge the existence of a Great High Creator God, much more attention is paid to spirits called "lesser gods," who are seen as intermediaries and as directly controlling affairs on earth. Adherents of ATR sometimes see the gods as benevolent or at least as potentially helpful, but it is very commonly acknowledged that these gods kill and destroy human life in response to those who "swear" by them at the shrines. Christians see these spirits as demonic powers that are deceptive and evil, seeking to attract to themselves worship that should go to God the Creator alone. This is because according to Christian teaching, no good spirit can accept worship as these spirits do, and also because in Biblical teaching, God desires and demands all our worship and love, leaving no room for worship of lesser gods. Such activity is expressly forbidden in the first two of the Ten Commandments. On the other hand, Christians agree with ATR that God created everything.
Afrikania Mission -- A small but very vocal group of African tradiitionalists including those of the diaspora who have banded together to promote African Traditional Religion. Afrikania is the main, if not the only group arguing for the retention of the trokosi slave system and opposing the liberation of trokosi. Afrikania does not want to see the system abolished because they see it as part of their tradition and culture. The group was started by a former Catholic priest who left the Christian faith for that of African Traditional Religion. Afrikania seeks to strengthen ATR by uniting previously diverse traditional groups devoted to various gods and by introducing practices that on the surface seem more like those of Christians--Sunday worship, a set of holy books, adoption of the ancient Egyptian god Amen-Ra as a single unifying deity, even use of the word "mission." The Afrikania Mission may be thought of as the hand inside the glove--the moving force behind the Trokosi Council and most movements advancing ATR. Access to visit shrines even in order to obtain objective information is often denied without prior permission (which is virtually never given), and shrines are not free to make their own decisions about liberating their slaves without consulting this group. Because of this, some have suggested that the remaining trokosi shrines themselves have become slaves of the Afrikania Movement.
Afrikan Renaissance Movement -- See Afrikania Mission
Amen-Ra -- An ancient Egyptian deity or idol. When the Afrikania Mission wanted to choose a deity to try to unify the diverse worshippers of many gods in the polytheistic system of ATR, they arbitrarily chose Amen-Ra as the head god. However, most traditional shrines pay little attention to Amen-Ra, each continuing devotion mainly to their own gods. In Egypt, Amen-Ra was at first a local deity worshipped in the area of Thebes. He gradually grew in importance until in the 18th Dynasty he was worshipped as the primary deity. Earlier Egyptians considered Amen-Ra a created being, one of 8 gods created by Thoth, who was in turn created by Atum, the sun god. Amen-Ra, then is for Afrikania a unifying deity, but by no means is he the Creator God.
Apostate -- One who once professed Christianity but later permanently and totally turned away from the Christian faith and renounced it, turniing either to atheism or to some other faith. The founder of the Afrikania Mission was an apostate from the Roman Catholic Church.
Atonement -- satisfying the anger of a deity because of a crime committed. The practice of trokosi is an attempt at atonement, seeking to assuage the anger of the shrine deities by the offering of a virgin girl as their slave (some say as their wife). Other priests claim that atonement is never fully achieved because once a crime has been committed, it must be atoned for "until the end of time." Christians believe in the full atonement of their sins by the voluntary sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who claimed to be the Son of God and hence, the perfect, sinless sacrifice. Christians believe God showed His acceptance of this "once for all" atonement by raising Jesus from the dead. Both ATR and Christianity, then recognize the need for atonement for sin. The major differences are: 1. Atonement by a trokosi is forced on a girl without her consent while the sacrifice of Jesus was voluntary, 2. Atonement by a trokosi does not provide full atonement, but Christians believe that the sacrifice of Jesus did so.
Benin -- A country in West Africa which is one of the major centers of shrine slavery. In that country, the practice is commonly called Vudusi (with many variant spellings) and is associated with Vodun shrines.
Birth in the Shrine -- Shrine slaves usually end up giving birth to an average of four children due to being raped regularly while in servitude. Birthing in the shrine is not given any assistance or medical attention. Slaves are sent back to work almost immediately following the birth with their babies tied on to their backs.
Burial of trokosi -- In many shrines trokosi slaves are not permitted to be buried in the normal fashion. It is forbidden for them to be buried in caskets, so they are simply wrapped in a mat and placed in the burial hole. No burial rites are permitted.
CHRAJ -- Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (Ghana), supports the liberation of trokosi and the abolition of the practice of shrine slavery on humanitarian grounds, claiming that there are certain rights people have just because they are human beings, and that the practice of shrine slavery is a violation of those rights as well as a violation of Ghanaian and International law.
Commission for Truth on Trokosi -- A Christian human rights group dedicated to breaking the secrecy involved in shrine slavery by disseminating authentic and detailed information on the practice.
Criminal Code Amendment -- Bill of 1998, made the practice of "ritual or customary servitude" a seond-class felony in Ghana, punishable by not less than three years imprisonment. The law has not yet begun to enjoy enforcement (2009).
Curse -- An infliction of evil, pain, suffering or death on another using the intermediaries of the shrine gods. There is a place in some shrines devoted to this purpose, called "the swearing place." The curse results in maledictions which results in more slaves being committed to the shrine.
Customary Servitude -- Another name for trokosi slavery. Customary does not denote that it is "usual", but that it involves "customs" of the people. This is part of the wording used in the 1998 criminal code which criminalized the practice of shrine slavery in Ghana. Synonymous with involuntary servitude or slavery in traditional shrines. It exists as a part of the customs or traditions of certain shrines of African Traditional Religion.
Divination -- A pracitice by which priests and priestesses of African Traditional Religion claim to contact and to obtain secret information from the gods. This is sometimes done by throwing stones or shells on the ground or onto a round cement table made in the ground, and interpreting the patterns into which they fall. Divination frequently results in a demand for a virgin girl to compensate for some alleged crime which was supposedly revealed by the gods during the divination. Hence it results in promoting and multiplying the practices of trokosi slavery. The Bible contains many warnings against divination because there is a great danger of contacting wicked, deceptive spirits. In the Christian way of life, there is no need for divination, since God answers the prayers of His people.
Dress Restricitons -- The shrine gods are said to require certain dress (or lack of it) in order to enter the shrines, and of their devotees. Common restrictions are: No covering on the shoulders, sometimes on the top half of the person, no shoes or sandals, no common clothng except for a cloth of the color adopted by the deity as his own wrapped around the person. Some require adherents to wear a raffia woven necklace that looks somewhat like a rope, while others require beads of certain colors.
Durbar -- A public ceremony at which government and community leaders are in attendance for the liberation of trokosi slaves from specific shrines. NGO's working to liberate trokosi have chosen to hold a durbar in order to draw public attention to the practice, inorder to prepare the former trokosi psychologically for freedom, and in order to preare the community to receive them back into society as normal human beings.
Equality Now -- An NGO working for the promotion of human rights for women, supportive of liberating the trokosi and abolishing the practice of ritual servitude.
Every Child Ministries (ECM) -- One of the major NGO's that has been active in liberating trokosi and helping them after liberation, in drawing public attention to the problem, and in working for the eventual abolition of the practice. ECM has been especially active in providing continued counseling for the trokosi following liberation. They have also taken children of trokosi who died while in slavery into their children's home, Haven of Hope. Their staff has been active in speaking out as advocates for the trokosi.
Ewe -- (Pronouned Ay-vay) A tribe stretching across the southern part of the Volta Region of Ghana and Togo. A language spoken in Ghana and Togo by the Ewe tribe. Trokosi shrines are predominantly associated with the Ewe and the related Fon tribal groups. In Ghana, Anti-Ewe sentiment has been an unfortunate result of the tribe's association with the trokosi practice.
Fear -- One of the greatest motivating factors holding the trokosi slave system together. Parents give their daughters into the system out of fear that the gods will kill their entire family if they do not do so. The law against ritual servitude is not enforced out of fear, trokosi on "temporary release" return at the beck and call of the priest out of fear, some trokosi do not speak up about their sufferings out of fear, and even after liberation, some do not follow through on their own religious preferences out of fear. Often shrine leaders who want to liberate their trokosi hesitate to do so out of fear for their lives. This is one of the reasons Christians have been successfully involved in the liberations where others have failed, invoking the protection and divine enablement of Jesus Christ, whom they deem to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords to whom every spirit must be subject. Christians often point out that "God has not given us the spirit of fear," and that the opposite is true in idolatry, where people are controlled and manipulated through the fear factor.
FESLIM -- An acronymn for Fetish Slaves Liberation Movement. FESLIM was one of the early groups involved in liberating trokosi slaves. Its founder, Mark Wisdom, attracted much attention to the problem by declaring boldly and publicly that he was not afraid of the idol gods.
Festival -- A traditional celebration often of several days duration, involving many rituals of African Traditional Religion. During the festivals all trokosi, even those on "temporary release", are called back to the shrines and are usually required to bring expensive offerings. Before Afrikania Mission instituted Sunday services, festivals were the main religious holidays of ATR, and still play an important part.
Fetish -- A term commonly used in Ghana for the gods worshipped in traditional shrines, either the spirits themselves or the images that represent them. These are not the High Creator God, but lesser gods who are believed to act as intermediaries and to direct activities of the immediate world around us. They frequently make their displeasure known by killing family members of those cursed at the shrine and by casting sicknesses on people. People consult them to find out hidden knowledge, to find out who may be causing them problems, for specific favors, or just for good luck. These favors often come only at the price of a virgin daughter of the family becoming a shrine slave.
Fetish priest or priestess -- A priest or priestess who worships and serves the god of a traditional shrine, whether full or part time. The sexual organs of the priest are dedicated to the gods of the shrine, so when he forces himself on the trokosi slave girls, it is said that they are wives of the gods. Where the shrine has a priestess, the sexual function is often carried out by male elders associated with the shrine. Most, but not all priest and priestesses are illiterate and uneducated in the normal societal sense.
Fetish shrine -- A shrine where spirits known as the lesser gods are worshipped, and where the gods are consulted through divination. Some of these shrines take in trokosi as shrine slaves.
Fetish slavery -- A form of involuntary ritual servitude known as trokosi in which women or girls, usually young virgins, are forced to work without pay for the priests and to serve them sexually. Usually education is denied or interrupted and punishment is harsh. It is believed that by this means, an atonement is made for some specific crime, real or alleged.
Fetish Slaves Liberation Movement -- FESLIM -- One of the first Ghanaian organisations to stand against the trokosi slave practice. The group aims to liberate adherents of other shrines whom they also see as slaves.
Fiashidi -- Another name for trokosi slavery or ritual servitude, commonly used in the Anlo area.
FIDA -- Federation of Women Lawyers, supportive of the liberation of trokosi and abolition of the practice.
Fon -- A tribal, cultural and language group in Benin, related to the Ewe of Ghana and Togo. The practice of trokosi is strong amongst them, where it is called vudusi.
Freedom of Religion -- A basic human right guaranteed to all Ghanaian citizens under the Constitution of the country, but denied in reality to girls who are forced to become trokosi in traditional shrines. There the girls are compelled to worship the shrine deities, often against their will, and are severely punished if they refuse.