Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
- Child marriage is a global issue with the highest rates usually observed in African countries
- Poverty, gender inequality, and ignorance are the main factors that contribute to child marriage
- According to ICRW, 1/3rd of the girls in developing countries are married before 18 years of age
Ghana, August 14, 2017: I have a 16-year-old sister who studies in class tenth. She spends most of her time at school and spends the remaining hours playing with her friends, watching the TV and doing her homework. But imagine another 16-year-old girl taking care of her husband and kids, managing a family and running a house, instead of attending school? The practice of child marriage is a global issue. According to International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW), one-third of the girls growing up in developing countries are married before they turn 18 and one in every nine girls is married before the age of 15.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),70 million girls will be married as children over the next five years if stringent efforts are not undertaken to alter the prevailing trend.
In Ghana, according to the 1992 Constitution and the Children’s Act (Act 560), the legal age for marriage is 18 years old. However despite the law, children are forced into marriage before they turn the specified age.
— ActionAid UK (@ActionAidUK) August 1, 2017
The practice of child marriage is increasing at an alarming rate in significant parts of Africa because of an inherent belief among adults that they can impose marriage upon girls. This largely denies the girl child to choose whom to marry, and when to marry leading to several health complications and even death.
John Abaa, a Senior program officer at Action Aid Ghana (AAG), an organization working on this issue in Ghana, believes that upon marriage, a girl is compelled to quit school and shift to a new place with new people, and take up roles that she is not mentally or physically prepared for. This, as a result, leads to isolation and depression, a growing cause of concern.
Child marriage is a human rights violation. However, despite laws against it, the practice remains rampant, in part because of persistent poverty and gender inequality.
While child marriage affects both the girls and the boys, the effects are more grave and disturbing on the girl child-
- Denial of rights
- Impact on the girl’s health, future, and family
- Waste of talent
FAILURE OF GOVERNMENTAL POLICIES
According to statistics by UNICEF, 96 girls at Bongo were found to be pregnant during the 2014-15 academic year, and the number increased to 111 girls in the 2015-16 academic year. Their figures were not only alarming but also the highest in the country.
Even though the government has devised policies and laws against child marriage and declared it a crime, the practice is still rampant. Greater efforts combined with help from other influential sectors of the society are needed to help curb this ill that currently engulfs the Bongo society.
Officer Abaa also believes the Social Welfare and Community Development Department and the Ghana Education Service have failed to perform their part to curtail the practice. In an interview with GNA in May this year, he said that these organizations need to speed up processes as they hardly followed up on reported cases of child marriage, adding that this enables the perpetrators to take the girls to the southern part of the country, thus ruining their chance to get back to school.
Beacon of Hope : Action Aid Ghana (AAG)
Action Aid Ghana (AAG) a non-governmental organization currently active in 6 regions of GHana, has six interventions like the Young Urban Women Project (YUWP), the Community-based Anti-Violence Teams (COMBAT), girls’ camps and clubs that monitor child marriages and marriage by abduction of the child bride, and also focus on their prevention and rescue.
AAG is at present assisted by funding from UNICEF, and is implementing a two-year campaign project aimed at making a significant impact on,
- Reduction of socio-cultural practices that promote child marriage
- Helping children acquire skills, knowledge and right attitude to resist child marriage
- Encouraging continuation of school education
Currently, the project is being implemented in 12 districts and 120 communities in the Greater Accra, Brong Ahafo, Upper East and Upper West Regions in Bongo, Ghana.
Since it’s inception in 2015, the project has been engaging actively with young groups to impart education and promotion of their rights and also supporting them with issues that concern them. To advance the reach and impact of the project, traditional, religious and opinion leaders are also being increasingly sensitized now and encouraged to “use their authority to abolish and modernize some of the cultural and religious practices that expose girls to early marriages and to strongly declare their stand against child marriage,” said Abena Anem-Adjei, the Project Coordinator of AAG in charge of the End Child Marriage Project, as reported by GNA.
— News Ghana (@news_ghana) May 26, 2017
Parents are also counseled to not hesitate in reporting cases of child marriages to child protection agencies like Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit and Department of Social Welfare and Community Development.
Senior program officer of AAG, John Abaa also told GNA, “We are making progress onwards ending child marriage as people are becoming aware of the negative effects of child marriage and supporting us to rescue girls from child marriage”.
Role of Traditional, Religious and Spiritual Leaders
Traditional and religious leaders in the Zorko community have also joined hands to come together to help create awareness and spread the word about the need to end child marriages in the area, because of the increasingly active presence they have.
The bodies that include the branch of the Presbyterian Church, the Catholic Church, the Christ Apostolic Church International, and the Muslem Community, among others pledged their commitment to help end child marriages by preaching and including the topic in their sermons.
— News Ghana (@news_ghana) August 11, 2017
A pledge to help curtail the societal ill was taken by these leaders at a community durbar organized at Zorko community in Bongo district by Action Aid Ghana.
According to GNA, Helen Adongo, an officer of the Social Welfare and Community Development warned parents against getting their daughters married before they turn the legal age that is 18 years old as this is against the 1992 Constitution and the Children’s Act.
— Min. of Gender Ghana (@MoGCSP_Ghana) May 22, 2017
According to her, parents force their daughters into matrimony when they get pregnant. Condemning the act, Helen believes in such a situation, the parents should take care of the daughters and let them continue with their education. Naba Victor Adendaa Awamyelum, the Chief of Zorko-Kodorogu and the Queen-mother for the area, Pognaba Ade-Ana Awamyelum also stressed upon education of the girl child and added that parents must be encouraged to give special attention to their daughters, as reported by GNA.
Malam Bashiru Ayoreyesia of the Muslem community (Ghana) believes God only cherishes happy families that could only be built by partners mature enough to take concrete decisions in favor of the family, as reported by GNA. Thus, to champion the cause, various religious leaders have pledged to preach against child marriage and to ensure that only mature people engage in it.
Click here- www.newsgram.com/donate
As kids growing up in different states, Shoba Narayan and Michael Maliakel shared a love of one favorite film — "Aladdin." Both are of Indian descent, and in the animated movie, they saw people who looked like them.
That shared love has gone full-circle this month as Narayan and Maliakel lead the Broadway company of the musical "Aladdin" out of the pandemic, playing Princess Jasmine and the hero from the title, respectively.
"Growing up, there was such little South Asian and Middle Eastern representation in the American media, and Princess Jasmine was really all I had. She was a huge role model to me as someone who was intelligent and strong and independent and beautifully curious, and that's who I wanted to be," says Narayan, who grew up in Pennsylvania.
The pair arrived at "Aladdin" in very different ways. Maliakel is making his Broadway debut, but Narayan is a musical theater veteran, having made her Broadway debut in "Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812" and touring with "Hamilton" as Eliza Hamilton.
She was in "Wicked" as Nessarose when the pandemic shut down Broadway in March 2020. Her agent called in April with the prospect of auditioning for Jasmine. She sang "A Whole New World" over Zoom on gallery mode, pretending to be on a magic carpet. "It was a very unique experience," she says, laughing.
Disney producers flew her to New York to meet face-to-face and go through the material again. Narayan was asked to read with different Aladdin potential actors. She got the gig: "I went from a wicked witch to a Disney princess. Can't complain."
Maliakel, a native of New Jersey, came from the world of opera, a baritone who studied at Johns Hopkins University and the 2014 winner at the National Musical Theatre Competition. He trained his voice to be flexible, waiting for the right window to open.
"I didn't really see a lot of people doing what I wanted to do in the world," he says. "There just wasn't a whole lot of representation. So it's really hard to imagine yourself in those scenarios when you have no one to look up to as a role model or an example of how it could be done."
He played Porter and understudied Raoul in a national tour of "The Phantom of the Opera," which ended its run in Toronto just before the pandemic hit.
"I always dreamed that Broadway might happen someday," he says, laughing. "I'm just kind of dipping my toes into the waters in one of the biggest male roles in the business right now, and it's kind of surreal."
'Aladdin' featured as a Broadway Musical with a cast of Indian origin playing the main roles Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Broadway's "Aladdin" is a musical adaptation of the 1992 movie starring Robin Williams. The musical's story by Chad Beguelin hews close to the film: A street urchin finds a genie in a lamp and hopes to woo a princess while staying true to his values and away from palace intrigue.
Key Alan Menken songs from the film — including "Friend Like Me," ″Prince Ali" and "A Whole New World" — are used. The lyricists are the late Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Beguelin.
The show — and it's two new leads — had a few performances to celebrate Broadway's return from the pandemic this fall before it was forced to close for several days when breakthrough COVID-19 cases were detected. The actors say the safety of the cast, crew and audience are paramount and closing was the smart move.
"This is how we keep theater going in the pandemic," Maliakel says. "The other option is to just not do it at all. And that's not an option. A week's worth of lost performances, when we look back on things in a year or so, I think will just be a little blip on the radar."
They both look back with heart-thumping appreciation at the early performances when they welcomed back theater-starved audiences, who gave the company 3-minute standing ovations just for singing "A Whole New World."
"It is every brown girl's dream to be singing that song on an actual flying carpet," says Narayan. "And the fact that I got to do it on Broadway in the full costume with the lights and the 32-piece orchestra beneath me — oh, my gosh, I really had to hold it together. It was emotional overload for me."
Maliakel recalls that he and his brothers wore out their VHS cassette version of "Aladdin." He remembers having lunchboxes, pajamas and bed sheets with the film's theme. Aladdin was "every little brown kid's prince." Now he is that prince.
"Now, finally, to get to get paid to do it on the world's largest stage — it's not lost on me how crazy that is," he says. "The responsibility of my position right now feels really great. This moment sort of feels bigger than me in some ways, and I don't take that lightly. I think it's a really exciting time." (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Aladdin, Broadway, Musical, Indian Descendant cast,
Jack Daniel's is the world's most popular whiskey brand, but until recently, few people knew the liquor was created by Nathan "Nearest" Green, an enslaved Black man who mentored Daniel.
"We've always known," says Debbie Staples, a great-great-granddaughter of Green's who heard the story from her grandmother. … "He made the whiskey, and he taught Jack Daniel. And people didn't believe it … it's hurtful. I don't know if it was because he was a Black man."
But people believe it now — in large part because Brown-Forman Corporation, owner of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, has acknowledged the foundational role Green played in the brand's development.
"The truth of the matter is, Nearest Green was the first head distiller of Jack Daniels whiskey," says Matt Blevins, global brand director for Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey. "We're very proud of this story and are very committed to amplifying it and acknowledging that. In the past, we did not amplify it the way that we could have in earlier eras, but we're about the future and moving forward."
America's first-known Black master distiller
The story begins in Lynchburg, Tennessee, current home of the Jack Daniel Distillery. In the mid-1800s, Green's slaveholders hired him out to a local preacher named Dan Call. Green, who had a reputation as a skilled distiller, made whiskey for Call, using a sugar maple charcoal filtering process that is believed to have originated in West Africa. Daniel, a boy who worked for Call, became Green's apprentice and learned the special technique that gave the Tennessee whiskey its smooth taste.
After emancipation in 1863, when all enslaved people were freed, Daniel purchased Call's distillery and hired Green as Jack Daniel Distillery's first master distiller.
"The best knowledge that we have is that they had a mentor-and-mentee sort of a relationship, and I would say, a friendship," says Blevins. "The stories that have been passed down [talk] about the care that Jack Daniel took to always acknowledge … the Green family."
Historic photo of Jack Daniel (in white hat) seated next to George Green, the son of Nathan "Nearest" Green Image source: VOA
There are no known pictures of Green, but there is one of Daniel with Green's son, George, sitting next to Daniel, rather than being relegated to the back.
"That photograph shows the respect that they had for one another and for their families," says Stefanie Benjamin, an assistant professor of tourism management at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. "To be not only allowed in that photograph, but also positioned in the foreground and sitting right next to Jack Daniels himself."
Search for the truth
Green's role in the history of the brand was uncovered by a writer and entrepreneur named Fawn Weaver, who became fascinated by Green's unheralded contribution to the world's most popular whiskey. After extensive research, including interviews with Green's descendants, Weaver shared her documentation with the company.
"I was very pleasantly surprised when they embraced my research and updated their records to reflect that," Weaver told VOA via email. "I think it said a lot about the character of their company that they moved that quickly to course correct."
Jack Daniel's has incorporated Green's contributions into the official history of the brand, but Weaver has gone a step further. She invested $1 million of her own money to establish Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, which is now the fastest-growing independent American whiskey brand in U.S. history.
Fawn Weaver (center in red) with her leadership team at Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, including master distiller Victoria Eady Butler (far left), the great‐great‐granddaughter of Nearest Green. (Photo courtesy Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey) Image credit: VOA
The company's master distiller is Victoria Eady Butler, Green's great‐great‐granddaughter.
"Uncle Nearest is the most-awarded American whiskey or bourbon of 2019, 2020 and 2021, and the fact that it is the bloodline of Nearest Green blending and approving what goes into our bottles is something I marvel at regularly," Weaver says. "Victoria is an absolute natural when it comes to blending, and to watch her work is to see something pretty darn close to perfection."
Seven generations of Green's family have worked at the Jack Daniel Distillery, a tradition that continues today with Staples and two of her siblings. But the Green family did not benefit when the Daniel family sold the Jack Daniel distillery to Brown-Forman for $20 million in 1956.
"Although they [the Green family] were very well off in terms of finances [in the 1800s] in that time, they were not the owners or co-owners of the Jack Daniel distillery," Benjamin says. "And so, those millions of dollars have been passed down through generations of the Jack Daniel family, and not necessarily the Green family."
Maturing barrels of whiskey in a barrel house on the grounds of the Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. (Photo courtesy Jack Daniel's) Image credit: VOA
Weaver's Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey has joined forces with Jack Daniel's to launch a program that provides support, expertise and resources to African-American entrepreneurs entering the spirits industry.
Staples says her family is thrilled their great-great-grandfather is finally being recognized.
"It's kind of mind-boggling … and we are so proud," Staples says. "And to think that from here to Africa, that recipe goes all the way back. And to think that he played such an important role in establishing this company. It sometimes seems unreal. It really does."
Because of Weaver's tenacity, Green's story, although left untold for more than a century, will not be lost to history. But that's not the case with so many other stories of Black achievement and contributions to the nation.
"Part of telling his story and sharing his legacy is to give credit and to give attention to a person who, if it wasn't for him, we wouldn't have the Jack Daniel whiskey as we know it today," Benjamin says. "It showcases yet another example of how formerly enslaved people, Black people, African American people who have really built this country, are left out of the dominant narrative that we tell." (VOA/RN)
(This article is originally written by Dora Mekouar)
Keywords: Jack Daniel's, Whiskey, Nathan Green, Slavery, Black achievement
Cricket fans can now book the ultimate experience with the official accommodation booking partner for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup, Booking.com. The T20 Pavillion, a bespoke cricket-themed luxury stay that transforms the Presidential Suite at Grand Hyatt Mumbai Hotel and Residences into a classic cricket stadium.
The suite offers guests an all-inclusive once-in-a-lifetime experience during the India vs Pakistan ICC Men's T20 World Cup match on October 24, 2021, packed with quirks and luxuries that is sure to satisfy even the biggest cricket enthusiast. Additionally, as a part of the experience, guests will also have the exclusive opportunity to meet Bollywood actor Shraddha Kapoor at The T20 Pavilion.
The booking window that opens at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and will be booked on a 'first come, first serve' basis with check-in date on October 24, 2021 and check-out on October 25, 2021. | Photo by Alessandro Bogliari on Unsplash
For one night only, guests can soak in the energy of a roaring stadium to enjoy the epic match on a life-sized screen while seated on comfortable sofas -- just like the luxury box seats at the stadium. They can also head to the locker room (dining room) next to the field (living room) to have some energy drinks, just like a cricketer would do or head to the bedroom, transformed into a net practice area. It's got the field, the pitch, the locker room, pitching nets and cricket memorabilia infused in every element of the room.
The booking window opens at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and will be booked on a 'first come, first serve' basis with check-in date on October 24, 2021, and check-out on October 25, 2021. The T20 Pavilion is priced at Rs 6666 only in honour of all the great sixes smashed at the T20 World Cup. The T20 Pavilion can accommodate up to four guests. Cricket fans can visit the website or mobile app to book this cricket-inspired stay. (IANS/ MBI)