63-year-old traditional Ghanaian priest sparks outrage by marrying 12-year-old daughter

A 63-year-old respected traditional priest in Ghana caused public uproar by taking a 12-year-old girl as his wife in a traditional ceremony last Saturday. The priest, identified as Nuumo Borketey Laweh Tsuru XXXIII, has faced backlash for the marriage, which contradicts Ghana’s legal marriage age of 18. Despite a decline in child marriage rates in Ghana, with 19% of girls married before 18 and 5% before 15, according to Girls Not Brides, this incident has reignited concerns.

The wedding, attended by many from the community and widely shared on social media, drew criticism, particularly for a video where a woman advises the young bride on how to appeal to her husband. This advice, seen as preparation for her marital duties, has led to calls for the marriage’s annulment and for investigations into Mr. Tsuru.

Community leaders from Nungua, where the girl and priest are from, have defended the marriage as a part of their tradition, arguing that the outcry stems from a lack of understanding. They claim that the girl’s initiation into her role began six years prior and did not affect her education, emphasizing that her duties as the priest’s wife are based on custom.

Mr. Tsuru holds a significant position as a “Gborbu Wulomo,” or high priest, in Nungua, performing critical spiritual and cultural duties for the community. The girl is slated for another ceremony to ready her for her duties as the high priest’s wife, including childbearing. Despite the defense from community leaders, Ghanaian law, which recognizes customary marriages, strictly prohibits child marriages under any cultural or traditional pretense, leaving government authorities yet to comment on the matter.