They number about 600, including women, children and men. They have come to Tindang, a small community in Gnani outside Yendi, out of fear from accusers who threaten them as witches and murderers.
As part of the activities to mark this year’s 16 Days of activism against gender-based violence, on 26 November, the UN Information Centre in Accra, the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MoWAC) and other partners visited Tindang to spend some time and collect additional information on witch camps across the country.
Tindang is headed by a fetish priest known as Liwunli Banenba, who as the Chief of the community, exorcises ‘witches’ and frees them from the bondage of evil forces.
Fati, who looks 75 years old but has forgotten her real age, recalls that she willingly came to the Tindang “witch camp” more than 20 years ago because she wanted the truth. She had been accused of murdering her husband’s brother and even though it was established that she did not kill her brother in-law, she could not return home for fear of being humiliated and chastised. Today, as her eldest daughter, Sana, lives with her and cares for her.
Another resident, accused murderer, Tanam, explained “I cannot farm nor go for water. I am so vulnerable and depend on the services of others”.
These are just two of the many stories of human rights violations of people accused of witchery. According to Alhassan Shei, the son of the community fetish priest, when the women refuse to return to their homes they are left to remain in the community.
While the visit aimed to find ways of eliminating such societies, the community was not pleased to see the outsiders because, according to Alhassan Shei, they receive numerous visitors from public and private organizations and institutions who promise to engage the authorities to bring water, electricity and schools. Yet, they never return.
The Head of Research and Senior Project Officer of MoWAC, Mrs. Juliana Amponsah said the Ministry is aware of the existence of such communities particularly in the northern part of the country and efforts will be made to address their needs.