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9/7/11 - "A Journey to 'Sodom and Gomorrah'" by Raymond Tutu, Ph.D.

A Journey to "Sodom and Gomorrah"

by Raymond Tutu, Ph.D.

Raymond Tutu, Ph.D., received an ARC research grant in Fall 2008 for his project entitled "Internal Migration, Risks and Social Resilience in Ghana".

Travelling to Old Fadama, popularly called Sodom and Gomorrah, a slum in the city of Accra, Ghana, was another giant step towards the accomplishment of an academic escapade and to socialize with old friends and people some of whom I have known since 2006. The slum is a major destination for migrants, especially those from the north of Ghana. Located in the heart of the city, the four-acre slum is an illegal settlement and it is estimated to be home for over 10,000 people.

As custom demands, and my quest to defy jet-lag, I paid homage to the ‘gate keepers’ and community leaders and exchanged pleasantries with some of my old acquaintances. Although the slum has been my research site for almost threes, I do not and cannot get used to the deplorable situation under which residents find themselves. And in the midst of all the appalling surroundings in the slum, the hospitality of residents is always unprecedented. Contrary to media reports about the unfriendly characters in the slum, the akwaaba (welcome) I got when I arrived there in 2009 was not only Ghanaian but genuine and enviable. Under no circumstance do residents deserve their place of abode nicknamed “Sodom and Gomorrah” – places of sin exemplified by deviant activities and conduct, which led to their destruction by God.

My mission this time in the slum was to examine young migrants’ perception of stressors – agents and stimuli that cause negative physiological response- during the migration process and at the destination, assess the predictors of resilience among the young migrants, and explore the likelihood of the young migrants exiting the squatter settlement. By virtue of these objectives, I had extensive interactions with a range of young people with ages between 10-29 years (young adolescents, old adolescents, young adults and adults). I engaged them in surveys and semi-structured interviews while triangulating with focus group discussions.

Africana Research Center’s support for this work has further enhanced my quest to engage the marginalized and criminalized as a way of not just giving them a voice, but intellectually stimulating discourse relevant for enhancing the well-being of the ostracized.