I confess that a lot of things in Ghana, indeed across Africa, annoy me to the core. Belief in witchcraft is close to the top of the list. Annoy is really a mild word. I mean, WTF! Witchcraft, really? It continues to shock me how prevalent, how persistence the belief in and hence the practice of witchcraft is in Ghana. How dangerous. The other day, I was once again ranting about this to a cousin of mine. He told me that “well, if you believe then it works, if you don’t believe then witchcraft will not have any effect on your life”. So I said something to the effect that he was describing the belief in witchcraft as a self-fulfilling thing and that he is also saying that each of us, individually, are in charge of our own destiny. He goes, okay. Then I asked him if he believes in witchcraft. He says: ” Sister Kinna, witchcraft works.” If I had it in me, I would have pummeled him.
Yaba Badoe, the author of True Murder, is also a film maker. Her latest documentary is The Witches of Gambaga. In parts of Northern Ghana, the practice of accusing women of witchcraft and then holding them as captives in camps has been going on for decades. Some of the women are successful traders and businesswomen, some are farmers, grandmothers, sisters, mothers. They are accused of using witchcraft to cause infertility, diseases, misfortune, etc. Often, the inmates will live out the rest of their lives in captivity, exiled from their families. Quite an effective tool in silencing and oppressing women. I’m yet to hear of a successful man, traditional healer, male politician accused of witchcraft.
Here is the trailer of the documentary:
And here is a short article that Badoe wrote on her research and work with the camps of Gambaga titled “What Makes a Woman a Witch?
I will pass on the release date for the full documentary when it is announced.