We specifically requested to interview someone who wasn’t accused, but was forced to live in the witchcamps because a mother or grandmother was accused. Hamida Awolu allowed us to interview her.
18 years ago when she was 10 her grandmother was banished.
The community gathered money and brought in someone who had powers to sense witchcraft. All the accused women were beaten and tortured and banished to Kukuo. Her grandma resisted going because no one was sick, but the community insisted because of the priests accusations.
The case was sent to the palace and the chief supported the community’s decision. While the grandmother was at the palace the crowd burned down the house and all her belongings. The grandmother was banished to Kukuo. Despite all of this Hamida’s grandmother wanted to come back.
Hamida ran to Kukuo to warn her grandmother against coming back. She ended up staying because it was so peaceful. She ended up marrying a member of the royal family here.
According to her people are vrey wicken to women in particular. When women are old, that’s when men use their wickedness. The people only beat her frandma because the chief supported their actions.
She things that the legislature should protect the women so that women accusations happen the law will protect them. She says that community elders need to be sensitized to the needs of the women and need to be held responsible for the treatment of accused witches. She says that those who kill accused witches should be seen as murders of a citizen, and not as ridding society of witches. She says that village chiefs simple give people what they want to keep the peace.
She doesn’t feel safe going back to her community. She says that the youth are responsible for her grandmother’s accusation – they were the ones who sent for the priest.
Hamida says that the word witch itself has a negative stigma attached to it. There isn’t any peace involved in identifying witches. She believes that accusations should be abolished, but she believes that witchcraft is real. She says that she’s actually seen witchcraft in action. When she went to fitch water at night she says something moving in the night that had lights.