In each of these two countries, the desire to be rich has had results that are really hard to fathom. Let us start from the practices related to that quest in Burkina.
Blood Rituals for Money in Burkina
One of the tragic results of the desire to amass wealth is the growth of the sex trade. Today, the sex trade and sex slaves have become an international preoccupation. Human trafficking has become a real threat. This phenomenon has become intertwined with the sex trade and reached enormous and very worrisome dimensions during the confinements that Covid-19 has imposed on the world.
In Burkina, another worrisome situation is the increasing occurrence of blood rituals in the quest of easy wealth. This is what happens in most cases. One is lured by a friend or a relative who claims that he (since they are men in most case) has heard of a certain traditional healer or possessor of supernatural powers who can help one to become extremely rich overnight. The cases that have been documented by the Burkinabè authorities show that the person who is willing to be rich begins the rituals with sacrifices of animals, like a chicken of a sheep of a certain colour, and then, once the money-hungry fellow is in the middle of such rituals, he realizes that human sacrifice is a part of it. This is the experience of a man we will call Mr. X. He is a carpenter in his 40s. Mr. X had been convinced by a friend that he could become rich overnight after some rituals in Manga, a locality, 93 kilometers south of Ouagadougou. All Mr X had to do was to sacrifice a black chicken and a dog on a shrine. Mr. X insisted that he didn’t know all the various steps involved. He was convinced that only rituals involving animal sacrifices were to take place. The truth is that at a particular point, Mr. X would be asked to perform a gruesome murder by “sacrificing” one of his family members. The act was to have taken place on a Friday at 10:00 pm.
Mr. X was, therefore, ready on that day and time and once he reached the spot, the “master healer” welcomed him and asked him to slaughter the chicken and to tie the dog to a pole. He was then told that the dog would be instantaneously transformed into a dear relative of his that he would have to murder if he wanted to become extremely rich overnight. The carpenter could not commit the murder and preferred to return home and maintain his status as a carpenter. No charge was filed in this case. However, many Burkinabè can tell you that such things happen very often. Some people the complete ritual by killing their dear relatives and becoming filthy rich. No one knows where their money comes from.
Sakawa or Blood Money in Ghana
In Ghana, the same rituals take more sophisticated and tragic forms. The practice is called akawa, a term that almost everyone understands as “duping, blood and money”. The practice takes place mainly in Swedru, a little town in the Central Region of Ghana, about two hours’ drive from Cape Coast. Many young people have suddenly become millionaires there. They sacrifice human beings in the following way. Most of the time, the fetish priest requests a certain part of the human body. The following illustration is based on a real case.
In April 2021, two teenagers aged 16 and 19 lured a 10-year-old boy into an uncompleted building and beat him to death. The two teenagers were arrested by the local police and they confessed to the fact that they had been asked by a ritualist to provide the body of a teenager and an amount of GC1,000 (about US$160) in return for riches. This case was not completed as intended and the money-hungry boys were taken into police custody. In many other cases, the ritual is completed, dear family members are sacrificed, parts of their bodies are used for rituals and some people become very rich.
But circulating rumours share that people who gain their wealth in this manner are never happy. At times they experience severe trauma that prevents them from sleeping for the rest of their lives. In other cases, the money-hungry person is advised to use the money in only one way: to spend it on luxuries. The money cannot be used for any serious investment.
Rich Westerners Duped through Computers and Phones
In Ghana, in general, and in Swedru particularly, young men spend long hours behind computer screens communicating with wealthy white men or women overseas who have been charmed in advance, despite the distance. The deceived person believes everything the Ghanaian teenager says and, in most cases, the latter receives large sums of money from the rich white persons, before that Westerner comes to their senses. In certain cases, Ghanaian boys pose as pretty girls with a feminine voice and chat a white man up. The guy ultimately falls in love with the young Ghanaian man (whom he takes to be a woman) and often travels to Ghana to marry his bride. That is when two things can happen: either the criminal Ghanaian boy is never found, or he convinces a young lady to pretend to be him and marry the man. These scams, tragedies, horrors and deceits need to be eradicated, as soon as possible.
Moussa Traoré is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of English of the University of Cape Coast, Ghana