BETWEEN ALIENATION AND BELONGING IN NORTHERN GHANA: The voices of the women in the Gambaga 'witchcamp'
AuthorMohammed, Larry Ibrahim
While there have been numerous scholarly works on witchcraft beliefs, that of the phenomenon of ‘witchcamps’ are rare. In recent times, Ghana has come under the spotlight for being home to six settlements dedicated to sheltering ‘witches. These settlements are community-led initiatives that provide shelter for people accused of witchcraft. These ‘witchcamps’ are seen as a form of prisons where the rights of its inhabitant are curtailed. With its disproportionate number of women, various Governments have interpreted this phenomenon as a dent on the country’s image and they have variously signalled disbandment of the ‘camps’. However, the women in these so-called camps have protested the government’s intentions, claiming that it will jeopardize their safety. The focus of my research is the Gambaga ‘witchcamp’. The methodology of this research is situated within the field of indigenous studies. It employs a post-colonial indigenous research paradigm which amongst other things, give prominence to the value systems, community beliefs and experiences of marginalized people. This study is the result of six weeks of fieldwork conducted in Ghana in the summer of 2019. During my fieldwork, I variously stayed in Gambaga, Accra and Tamale gathering data. I conducted interviews with some of the women accused of witchcraft, spoke a spiritual diviner and some members of the Gambaga community. Also, this study drew on archival materials in order to have an idea of how traditional values have been resilient in the lives of the local people. My study interrogates three problems. Firstly, to understand the processes and events leading to a person settling in the witchcamp. Secondly, to find out reason was to find out the significance of the settlement to the local people. Finally, this study investigates why women formed the majority of those in the witchcamp. The finding shows that contrary to public misconceptions, the so-called ‘witchcamp’ in Gambaga provides shelter and security to the women. The processes leading to an accused person settling in the witchcamp reveals a body of traditional and local conception of witchcraft belief. Finally, the study found out that while witches can be both men and women, accusations of witchcraft have typically been influenced by a local conception of gender. Thus, a woman based on her ‘sex’ stood a greater risk of been accused of witchcraft.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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