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05.05.2009 General News

CENSUDI launches Apoka Scholarship Club

By William Jalulah - Ghanaian Chronicle
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THE END of slave trade in the region is said to have been engineered by a Frafra woman, Apoka Karenyane, who sensibly and courageously killed one of the agents of the slave raiders. This was after her 'husbands' (men of her community) had fled for safety.

In order to recognise her as the heroine who brought freedom to her own people, the Centre for Sustainable Development Initiative (CENSUDI), a grassroots non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Bolgatanga, has adopted Apoka as the name for its Scholarship Scheme Project.

The adoption took place during a camp meeting of 112 pupils and students from 13 communities within 3 districts and one municipality of the region.

They included the Bawku West, Talensi-Nabdam, Kassena-Nankana West districts, and Bawku Municipality. Giving a lecture on the historical background of Apoka Karenyane, who came from Bukere, a suburb of Bolgatanga, the former Upper East and Brong Ahafo Regional Minister in the former National Democratic Congress (NDCs) regime, Mr. Donald Adabre, regretted that that there was no book on the late Apoka because of the late arrival of education in the northern part of Ghana.

However, there was in-depth oral historical information that has passed on from father to son up to date.

This piece of information has it that Apoka Karenyane, decades ago, migrated from neighbouring Burkina Faso with her brothers to Ghana, where she settled at Bukere (precisely at the BOGISS Sport Stadium) with some of her brothers, while the others also settled at where the Junior Staff Quarters is.

There were two notorious slave raiders at the time, Samouri and Babatus, who terrorised the people of the region and other parts of the Northern Region. They raided the region, caught able-bodied men and sometimes women, and sold them into slavery.

Aware of risking being caught and sold into slavery, if they dared stayed around while the raiders were around, the men always fled into the bushes for safety. On one of their raiding expeditions, the raiders did not meet any men but Apoka who was then thrashing millet.

They quizzed her about where the men where. Though Apoka could not speak the English language, she could understand what the slave raiders were asking her. She then pointed the pestle she was using to thrash the millet in a certain direction indicating where the men were.

Just as the raiders turned to go and hunt for the men, Apoka quickly turned and crashed the head of the chief agent with the pestle. He collapsed, and died instantly. This frightened the rest who ran away never to return.

Apoka then made a lot of noise to indicate victory over the slave raiders, and this brought out all the men from their hideouts. She was praised by her men counterparts for her bravery.

This bravery exhibited by Apoka brought an end to slave trade in that part of Ghana.

Today, praise singers in the Frafra land mention 'Tandunga lebge ziin”, which means the pestle turned into blood.

After narrating the historical background of Apoka to the participants, Mr. Adabre said while Apoka did what she did to set her people free from slavery, the girl-child of today could also do something to set her people or family free from poverty.

They should be aware that the slave raider today is poverty, while their pestle is education. They should therefore take education serious so that they could climb to the top.

Mr. Adabre mentioned Zuzana Alhassa, Celilia Ayanare, and Francesca Issaka, Director of CENSUDI, as some of the northern women who d distinguished themselves, and needed to be emulated.

According to Head of Programmes of CENSUDI, Mr. Robert Alagskomah, the organisation was established in 1994 to address gender imbalances that existed across all areas of life.

He said the Education Support Scheme, which was a component of the organisation's projects, was to open doors to formal learning and education to girls, women and other vulnerable persons, especially in the three regions in the North, beginning with the Upper East Region.

In the Apoka Scholarship Club, some of the beneficiaries were in Primary 5 to Senior High School. The club paid for the extra classes fees, school fees, examination fees, and also provided the beneficiaries with provisions.

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