Nessikai Ezndo

Unlike the other women, Nessikai didn’t enjoy her life when she was younger.

Her father was terminally ill and her extended family didn’t accept her, so before her father died she was married off. Without a husband there would be no one left to care for her.  She was 11 and her husband was 90.

She said that she didn’t love the man because he was so old – he was weak and couldn’t perform. Despite their large age difference, she had 6 children with him. Four of her children died.

Then her husband died too.

She said that “god didn’t create me as a lucky one”.

She stayed in her husband’s house and realized that “if I don’t stand on my feet, I will not be successful”. She began farming and was able to produce a lot. She was so successful that people would turn to her for loans or for her help.

One day her nephew asked to borrow money to buy a tractor and promised to pay her back in 5 days. A week later instead of paying back the money, he accused her of being a witch. He claimed that she had taken away his testicles, chopped them up, and fried them. People looked at where his testicles were supposed to be (including her) and his testicles were nowhere to be found.

According to her nephew, he sold his testicles to her and she spiritually took them. The herbalist they consulted said it couldn’t be healed – his testicles were gone forever. Nessikai said that she wishes that there were some sort of machine to check. She’s sure the testicles are still there.

But during the witchcraft test the chicken didn’t scream and testify to her innocence.

Her case was brought to the chief. Instead of supporting her desire to bring it to court he banished her. She was causing too much havoc within the community. She does not forgive the chief.

Unfortunately she didn’t have anyone to help her challenge the accusation or the banishment and so she accepted it. If she hadn’t, she would have died – her nephew had threatened her with his gun and there was a mob waiting for her in the village.

After she was banished her sons hid her in a bush until they could obtain transportation to Kukuo.

Nessikai wants to go home, but she’s afraid her nephew will track her down.

Her property and her children are still back at the community. She’s worried about her property and is annoyed because her children never pay her visits but continue their life of luxury she provided for them while she suffers in Kukuo.

Now she depends entirely on food from ActionAid and Songtaba (the two organizations that help out with the camps the most). She’s too old to fetch water, so she gets food by selling part of the food she receives.

She never thought she would end up here. She was rich and successful.

Most accused witches in Kukuo have children or grandchildren helping them. She has 11 grandchildren, but if they came to help her she’d have no to way to feed them.

At this point she showed us her flashlight. She said that she doesn’t even have money for batteries for her flashlight to see at night.

She’s in her 80s now and she’s been here for 4 years. Nessikai is trying to return to her family and wants to leave Kukuo. Her family is ready to accept her back, but her community is not. The chief and her nephew are still there. Kukuo is currently looking for a new community that will accept her.

Towards the end of the interview she told us that the attitude people have towards accused witches needs to be examined, especially in regards to property. Even if the women are guilty, they should be allowed to bring items from home when they enter the camps.

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