A VIDEO documentary produced by an Australian non-governmental organisation (NGO) portraying Ghana as a country where child slavery is practised on cocoa farms has caused the fury of Ghanaian authorities.
The video, produced by a team from the World Vision International (WVI), Australia, and published on its website, seeks to create the impression that slave trade exists in Ghana now as it was in the past.
The documentary is titled Gate of No Return to draw a link between alleged modern-day slavery on cocoa farms and the slave trade story in the country, which indicated that once a slave was taken through the last exit gate at the Elmina Castle, known as the “Gate of No Return”, he was sold into slavery to be taken to the Americas.
However, officials of the National Programme for the Elimination of Worst Forms of Child Labour in Cocoa (NPECLC) have vehemently denounced that impression and resolved to take up the matter with the WVI and the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI).
“We think that they (Australians) didn't treat Ghanaians fairly,” the Programme Manager of the NPECLC, Mrs Rita Owusu-Amankwa, told the Daily Graphic yesterday, adding that her outfit would lodge a protest with the WVI and ICI, and also demand a correction of the negative impression created by the video.
On January 24, 2008, a three-member delegation from WVI Australia, led by Tim Costello, was reported to have visited Ghana to produce a video documentary on child labour on cocoa farms.
With an introductory letter from the ICI, the team was accompanied by some officials of NPECLC to Sekyere Aboradzewuram, a cocoa-growing community in the Mpohor Wassa District in the Western Region.
According to officials of the NPECLC, after holding a durbar with the people, the Australian delegation decided to visit a cocoa farm and four pupils from a local primary school went along with the team.
On the farm, the Australian team was reported to have asked three of the pupils to change into a farm attire for a demonstration on how children worked on cocoa farms.
Unknowing to their Ghanaian hosts, the team had produced a documentary from the video shootings and published it on the NGO's website, www.donttradelives.com, to create the impression that Ghanaian children were trafficked to cocoa farms and made to live in servitude.
“It is unfortunate that people come and twist issues to suit their own selfish agenda,” Mrs Owusu-Amankwa protested.
She advised Ghanaians, particularly cocoa-growing communities, to be wary of the way they granted audience to foreigners who would approach them with the intention of producing documentaries on child labour on cocoa farms because some of them did not have good intentions.
The Communications Officer of NPECLC, Ms Patience Dapaah, who was one of the NPECLC officials that accompanied the Australian delegation, denied the story of the Australians.
“The children on the video are not trafficked children. They are schoolchildren who were taken to the farm,” she claimed, adding that the NPECLC would also publish the true story on the Internet.
Story by Kofi Yeboah