Indigenes of Manya Krobo in the Eastern region are divided over the continuous celebration of dipo puberty rites following what some describe as a violation of the rights of the girls.
While a section believe the values and objectives are still relevant, others think the custom has outlived its usefulness. Dipo is the rich and revered culture of the Manya and Yilo Krobos. The tradition fights early sex pre-marital sex, and early pregnancy.
The puberty right is celebrated in the months of April and May each year. Although only girls are taken through the rites, boys and men are equally bonded by the laws guiding dipo. Parents are obliged to ensure the celibacy of their girl children or they risk losing them through banishment should they get pregnant before celebrating dipo.
Initially, the girls are confined up to six months or more, and schooled in personal hygiene, ancestral rites, cooking, housekeeping, child birth and upbringing, and how to be good mothers and wives.
But these virtues are now heavily challenged by modernity and foreign religions. Some of the indigenes who spoke to TV3 said they have difficulty in seeing the essence of the rites which they say defies all modern forms of dignity.
The krobos are now forced to limit the rich tradition in practice, duration and lessons taught. The event is now held officially over four days between Friday dawn and Monday. The girls are taken through rituals to prove their celibacy before they qualify to partake in the festival. One crucial part of the rite is when the girls sit on the sacred stone to prove their virginity. Those who are pregnant and the men responsible for their pregnancy face ‘kukudipo’ which is a form of punishment for not maintaining celibacy.
This is also to deter other young girls growing up to be patient until the right time and any lady who partakes in the rites brings honour to herself and her family. The highlight of the ceremony is when they drop their childhood cloth to be entirely covered in beautiful beads made by the krobos themselves. The festival again provides opportunity for the people of krobo to exhibit their rich handmade beads.