Shenka Kwame was part of a group of 10 people who were accused of witchcraft in her community. There were 9 women and 1 man who were all publicly accused and immediately taken to the camps for alleged witches. To this day, the women are all living in the camps, but the man has returned and lives with his family while she is here alone and suffering. (her words, not mine.)
She was born around 1937 (she knows this because she had her first child when she was 20 in 1957). When we came she had just arrived from cutting firewood; she doesn’t have anyone to take care of her.
She had 3 kids with her first husband: 2 sons and 1 daughter.
Her trouble started when her husband married a second woman. The other wife kept harassing her until her husband told her to look for a new husband.
In this second marriage she had 2 girls, and then her second husband passed away.
There was a local dance and all the chief and elders were in attendance. Someone publically announcced that there were many witches in the community who were disturbing the peace. Shenka remembers hearing 7 names called and being relieved that her name hadn’t been called yet — but her name was last on the list.
She was going through menopause, which is why she was accused of being a witch. Unfortunately she had no one to support her so she had to accept the allegation.
The accused lined up in front of the chief and were each given a chicken. The belief is that a chicken can detect witchcraft. If you are innocent, the chicken will scream and testify that you are innocent as it is being killed. If you are guilty, the chicken will fall without screaming.
Shenka was the first to hand over her chicken. It screamed and she presumed it meant that the community would believe her innocence. The process was repeated with the other 9 who were accused. The chicken didn’t scream for 8 of them. She was one of the two innocent people. She returned home.
But the community didn’t accept the chicken’s testimony and didn’t believe that she was innocent. Shenka had to flee because her community wouldn’t accept her.
She has no one to take care of her, and she asks one of the community members to check on her regularly. Without his visits, no one would know if she had died.
During the wet season, she can walk the mile to the nearest water source. During the dry season she isn’t strong enough to make it over the hills to the river, so she has to sell some firewood to buy water.
She’s been here for 11 years and if she was asked to return to her community, she won’t go. Where would she go? She’s accepted at Kukuo.
She doesn’t forgive those who accused her and she wants god to shorten her life so her suffering ends. She doesn’t have a future and wants her future to end today. (her words)
Shenka believes communities do this out of hatred towards those who are hard-working, especially women. They must think “if we allow this woman, then she will grow. We should stop her progress” (these are her words that were translated to me). She believes that god will one day pay them back.
She doesn’t understand the accusations; why would you think bad against a colleague?
Shenka believes that witchcraft exists, but she’s innocent. After all, the chickens said that 8 of the 10 people that were accused along with her had witchcraft.
No one has paid her a visit here. She didn’t do anything wrong, but now her family rejects her. When she is gone, she doesn’t even care if she gets a funeral.
Her hut leaks everywhere and so she wanted me to put out an appeal to help her get a new roof. A bundle of thatch is 5 cedi, and she needs 8-10 bundles for a roof.