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Sakawa Boys: A documentary about Internet Scamming in Ghana

So, I spotted this YouTube documentary by Vice Magazine, highlighting Sakawa: the spiritually championed internet fraud practice in Ghana. It is definitely an interesting video to watch. Interesting because it is both funny (not due to the subject matter) and desperately sad at the same time. It appears the practice has permeated the mainstream and will inevitably get trivialized. Do watch the video first and read my thoughts on it. I would love to hear your opinions too.

My view…sort of

First of all, the documentary is primarily targeted at Vice’s online readership, whom are mostly white males. Most Ghanaians I suspect are well versed on topic; they know what it is, how it works and most likely know a friend who knows a friend who drives an Audi Q7, which he claims he purchased with money from the parents’ ailing cassava business. To them, the content of the topic may be all too familiar and irrelevant. However, to any Ghanaian living outside the country, this is as good an insight you are likely going to get. This is because the local media are often fond of sensationalism – as shown in the films and newspapers in the documentary –  and the foreign media’s take on Sakawa regularly borrow from their own media stereotypes; thus, leading to badly informed reporting.

This documentary though was approached at from a point of ignorance. As a consequence, the topic was dealt with straight and objectively - albeit in a very deadpan, sarcastic manner. This potentially raises another issue as to how the documentary may be perceived. Sarcasm doesn’t appear to be very common in Ghana; I have met a number of Ghanaians who have misinterpreted my doses of sarcasm literally (leading to some awkward moments). The point being some people may find the presenter’s tone and the overall delivery as mocking and disrespectful. But then again, what is there to respect about a man cursing at a baby?

Finally, there were some moments which I found particularly interesting:

  • If Ghana truly has  one of the fastest internet speeds in Africa, then I wouldn’t want to be stuck anywhere else with important emails to send.
  • Seeing all the different scams in action goes to show why some folks abroad are reluctant to even give the email address to friends back home.
  • One of the things we carried in our Ghana must go bags when Nigerians kicked us out of their country was 419.
  • 8 movie parts in a year! The Ghana movie industry is certainly thriving with most the budget now being spent on special effects…not!
  • Are eggs suddenly cheap in Ghana? Why are they throwing it about like confetti?
  • Ghanaians do not believe in space? Huh, really? Woman, speak for yourself!
  • Anyone is going to find eating used tampons hard to swallow. That’s just unnecessary self pun-ishment.
  • ‘Sakawa boy turns into Snake’! Good to see P&P are still churning out these “true” stories.
  • Stating retaliation for colonization has surely got  to be the most principled justification for Sakawa ever (although in this case, it was entirely fictional).
  • Did that Juju priest just bite off the head of that chicken? :O

… and as for Sakawa, I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions on that.

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Written by Felix Quarcoo



Koftown born and bred, raised on corn and bread.


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