Africa Eye- My Stolen Childhood

By Marina Forsythe

Brigitte Sossou Perenyi lives and works in Ghana. She was trafficked to the country at the age of seven from Togo and held in captivity as part of a practice called Trokosi. This involves being banished from the community and sent to serve in a shrine to atone for a crime committed by a family member. It is prevalent in Ghana’s Volta region and is an illegal practice not often talked about.

Brigitte was told she had to leave home, to go and live with her uncle. Her parents believed that she was being sent for a better education. Unknown to her parents, their daughter was being held in a shrine, dedicated to worshipping deities.

In 1997, she was filmed by an American film crew. Following the news report, with the help of a charity called International Needs Ghana, she was adopted by a viewer in America called Kenneth Perenyi, who became her adoptive father.

20 years later Brigitte decides to go on a journey to find out the truth about why her family gave her away and investigate Trokosi, a practice still taking place in Ghana, Togo and Benin by various ethnic groups, one of which is the Ewe.

Ewes believe that they have a right to select any member of their family to serve in the shrine, whether that person committed a crime or not.

The practice of Trokosi has survived for over 300 years. When Brigitte left in 1997 there were an estimated 5000 Trokosi women and children in Ghana alone. It was made illegal in 1998. No priests have been prosecuted and the practice still goes on.