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Dipo Puberty Rites Modified in Dodowa Due To Lack Of Virgins

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Mothers in charge of the Dipo puberty rites in Dodowa, Shai Osudoku District, Greater Accra Region, have modified the rite to allow non-virgins to take part. Traditionally, only virgin girls between the ages of 10 and 15 were allowed to take part, but due to the increasing difficulty in finding virgin adolescent girls, the mothers have made the decision to allow non-virgins to participate. However, girls who have had abortions, given birth, or carried pregnancies are still not allowed to go through the rites.

The mothers, who are elderly traditional women ensuring that the Dipo rites are performed, have expressed concern about the lack of interest among the current generation to learn the processes of the rites. They fear that in the event where they all pass away, there will be no one to replace them to perform the rites for the girls in the community.

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The leader of the mothers, Awunye Ashiakie, who has been involved in Dipo rites for the past 60 years, said she prepared over 100 girls for the puberty rites each year, but the number was still small as compared to the past. She attributed the low patronage to modernity, particularly education, the introduction of new media, and influence from some pastors.

The mothers believe that the modification of the Dipo rites will attract more adolescent girls to the rites. According to them, many girls are now sexually active, leaving them with no choice but to allow “non-virgins” to take part in the rites. Another mother, Maameo, said the decline in virginity affected the numbers such that if they continued to stick to only virgins, Dipo rites would soon fade out.

For the most part, the Dipo puberty rites are celebrated by a few Dangme groups, namely the Shai and the Krobo in the Eastern Region, and it is held in the month of April. The rite involves a ritual bath, teaching of cooking skills, housekeeping roles, personal grooming, and the Dipo dance. Parents of the girls are expected to pay GH¢500.00 to the mothers to enable their daughters to participate.

Although Dipo is popular, it is one of the criticised traditional practices in the country. The Mirror observed, however, that it attracted many tourists. Despite the misconceptions people have about the rite, Awunye Ashaikie, who is determined to preserve Dipo, said the rite means “nhyira” in Akan, which means blessings and “yo” in Ga and Krobo means a woman, so it is all about asking God’s blessings for the girl.

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