Ghana’s Slave Trade

Map_of_ghana  Like every other country in the world, Ghana has its own form of slavery within and without its borders. According to the data collected by a Not for Sale investigator team last June-July, much occurs within the fishing industry. The article below describes how it is traditional for parents to apprentice their children out to learn a good skill, but many children end up trafficked.

James Kofi Annan, a former child slave himself, has begun an outreach to rescue current child slaves in his country of Ghana. He has opened Challenging Heights school where, amidst other students, a large contingent of rescued child slaves may be attending. For Annan, education is the key.

You may read his story by clicking on the link below. I will say this, however. Based on the CNN interview, I find Annan's intentions admirable and his motivations passionate and well-founded. However I am in firm disagreement with how he rescues the children-at-risk: he buys them back.** PLEASE SEE UPDATED CORRECTION BELOW.

This issue is not native to Ghana. It is one of those eternal questions amongst abolitionists across the world — is it ethical to pay money to free a slave from exploitation? Some would say yes. The conditions slaves exist in are so horrible that we must free them whatever the cost, and at ALL costs.

I disagree.

Christ died once for all and that was the ultimate payment for humanity, the only payment. Using worldly currencies to free slaves, no matter our intentions, simply creates another market — the business of freeing people rather enslaving them. We still have stamped a price tag on their heads. But through Christ's eyes, we are priceless and beloved. Where there seems to be no other way but to pay money to exit a person from the slave trade, I have faith God will provide other ways to pursue freedom and justice.

Having said all that, I haven never been a child in Ghana sold into slavery. While I disagree with Annan's methods, I do understand his heart, passion and past. I see where his actions are coming from.

Here's to the day when no dollar is ever exchanged again for the flesh of another person, created Imago Dei, and saved by the God of the universe Himself.

** As you can see in the Comments section of my blog, Mr. Annan personally took the time to correct me on a crucial error CNN reported during its interview with him. James has never bought back a child in order to rescue him/her. That was CNN's error. CNN has been contacted and hopefully have fully recognized their mistake. James only and ever wants to see all children free, able to attend school and be raised in loving environments. I extend my apologies to Mr. Annan and wish him the very best as he continues to pursue the freedom of child slaves.


Add Yours
  1. James Kofi Annan

    Dear writer, my name is James Kofi Annan, the person the story concerns.
    Thanks so much for your compliment. I also agree with you on the issue of ‘buy back’. However, that is an error from CNN. I have never used money to buy back any child – never! Its illegal in my country and I have never done that. I have contacted CNN to correct that error because I never said that in the interview. They have assured me that they will be correcting the error. My attention was drawn to this unfortunate error recently, and I’m grateful for that.


  2. Erin

    Dear James,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to correct me on this most serious of mistakes. I will, of course, immediately rectify the story to reflect the true nature of your outreach.
    I commend you on your bravery, sir, and your continued passion to end slavery in all its forms. May God bless you and keep you, and guide your footsteps as you seek to rescue many more of the innocent.
    Warmest Regards,


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