Observers, they say, are worried! The cacophony about the proliferation of witches camps in every nook and cranny of Ghana in recent times is a major source of concern and worry to many well meaning people not only in Ghana but across the globe. The question is, who is a witch, who determines who is a witch, and what criteria are used to determine who a witch is?
Scholars across the world have been trying their best possible to finding a universally accepted definition for the term ‘witch’ but to no avail. On a rather chauvinistic note, the Encarta Dictionaries were of the view that a witch is somebody, especially a woman, who is supposed to have magical or wonder-working powers that are most often used malevolently.
A witch is also used in its offensive term to deliberately insult a woman regarded as ugly, vicious, or malicious. As if that is not enough, a with in some cultures is described as a seductive woman. That is, a woman who is regarded as alluring or seductive. What a chauvinistic world! In the religious sense of the word, it may be described as a follower of nature religion. That is, a follower of wicca, a pre-Christian religion. With regard to its ordinary moaning, a witch may be defined as any person or group of persons whose behaviours seem to be out of the ordinary and have no logical explanation. In terms of correlation, exceptional children and adults, the aged, person with various forms of disabilities such as toothless old people, the homeless and persons without any blood relations are more likely to be branded as witches. Should that be the case? What do we say about eminent personalities like Albert Einstein, the renowned Mathematical genius and Charles Darwin, the father of genetics?
Ironically, efforts by individuals and groups to gather enough scientific evidence to support the claim that witches exist remain a mirage or a mystery. Some theologians however, opined that witchery is a real phenomenon and has historical and biblical antecedents. The explanation to this weird, incomprehensible and rigid view is that, at the start of mankind’s history, a rebellious spirit creature called Satan, which in Hebrew means ‘resistor’ or ‘adversory’ turned against almighty God and was banished together with some notorious angels who were believed to have been loyal to the course of Satanism. It is suspected that due to the ever merciful and forgiving nature of God, the powers to do good or evil were not taken away from them (banished angles) as they continue to multiply and expand their territories on earth. Thus, witches are perceived to be the descendants of banished angles and their mission on earth is to destroy mankind. What about the good aspect of witches?
Perceived witches over the years have constantly been subjected to inhumane treatment in many cultures across the globe. During one of his lectures, Dr. Kofi Krafon, a Clinical Psychologist at the Department of Educational Foundations, University of Cape Coast said, “The middle Ages happened to be a dark period in the affairs of humanity, at least, in Europe. Witch-hunting was then established in Europe by Pope Innocent VIII and Protestant Priests. Witches were beheaded, mutilated or strangled before being burned.” Torture, he added, was used to gain confession from people believed to be witches. What a hell!
The story is not anything to write home about in Ghana in the 21st Century as perceived witches are subjected to inhumane treatments even in many of the so called prayer camps. Interestingly, Ghana today can shamefully boost of a multitude of witches camps with the Gambaga witches camp in the Northern Region being one of the largest in Africa with a population of over six-hundred innocent, vulnerable poor old women. Funny enough, all these are happening at an era when Ghana as a nation pride itself as the Gateway to Africa, the star of Africa and the beckon of democracy in Africa and across the globe. God saves us! Today, it is conspicuously clear that perceived witches continue to face extermination and several others are banished from their communities, a situation which violates the fundamental human rights of this devalued social group. The time to act is now, for a stitch in time saves nigh!! Ghana deserves better!!
David Banaaleh (King-Dave)