Religious Leader

The religious leader doesn’t have anything to do with purification of the accused witches. He works with the women after they have been cleansed of their powers by the fetish priest.

The religious leader welcomes her with open arms since they are part of the same religion. Those who are part of his religion are like part of his family. He makes daily visits to many of his members and listens to what is tempting and testing them.

The accused witches often tell him of their frustrations with their banishment. He told us that during his counseling sessions he often reminds the accused witches that the prophets were once banished from their communities too.

He also counsels the women to forgive their accusers. “If [the accused witches] don’t forgive, god will not forgive them later”.

The imam realizes that the women are sent here because they were successful and her family wants to capitalize on that success. He tries to help the women contact and reconcile with their families and sees if the women can be reintegrated.

Personally the imam does not believe in witchcraft. All powers come from god, and witchcraft accusations are just a test of faith. According to him “if you have good faith, you wouldn’t think badly about others”.

Many of the things the imam said his youth group did were similar to the community’s youth group, so we asked him about the difference between the two groups. Apparently the youth leader is a Muslim, so there are few differences between the two groups – the imam simply concentrates on the Muslim youth.

When an accused witch is about to be reintegrated, he counsels her and provides her with advice. He tells her to watch 3 key things: her eyes, her mouth, and her legs. Her eyes can cause her trouble because she could see what is not seeable and sometimes she will just be bothering the community. Her mouth can cause her to be banished. Her legs can cause her trouble because she is not where she should be. If she doesn’t guard these three things, she is a nuisance to the community.

He has two big concerns within Kukuo: education about witchcraft accusations and water. He says that the education of other communities is a process and the way other communities handle victims is not the best, but you can’t go into other communities and say that they’re wrong. Water is also another concern for him because it is needed to purify people before entering the mosque. There isn’t enough water for prayers.

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