By Cynthia Reid | Shadow and Act September 2, 2011 at 6:25AM
Still making rounds on the festival circuit, the award-winning documentary The Witches Of Gambaga brings light to a devastating practice taking place in Ghana.
Directed by Yaba Badoe, the film follows the story of women condemned as "witches" and forced to live in camps. The synopsis states..."The Witches of Gambaga is the extraordinary story of a community of women condemned to live as witches in Northern Ghana. Made over the course of 5 years, this disturbing expose is the product of a collaboration between members of the 100 strong community of ‘witches’ and women’s movement activists determined to end abusive practices and improve women’s lives in Africa. Painful experience and insight come together to create an intimate portrait of the lives of women ostracised by their communities. Told largely by the women themselves, their incredible stories and struggles are conveyed to a wide range of audiences by the director’s narration."
Badoe, a Ghanaian–British documentary filmmaker and writer, first learned of this practice back in 1995 when she was covering a story for BBC’s Network Africa in Tamale.
Years later, she decided to return to the region and report on this horrendous practice. In an interview with AfricanWomenInCinema, she states..."It took me a lot longer to gain access to them than I’d anticipated. When I eventually got to interview three of the women’s representatives, I was shocked to discover that two of them actually believed they were ‘witches’. Tia, who told me she’d been wrongly accused of witchcraft, was quickly forced to retract her statement. I was horrified to find that women accused of witchcraft were forced to undergo a trial by ordeal. Depending on how a chicken died – with its wings facing the sky or the ground – you were either a witch or not."
The film received the "2nd Prize Documentary" Award at 2011 FESPACO.