Kukuo is a small community located off Bimbilla, near Oti river in the Northern Region of Ghana. It is one of those communities where banished ‘witches’ take refuge.
In December, I visited Kukuo village as part of a pilot study. Like other villages in Northern Ghana, Kukuo has a chief, but currently the chief is dead and a regent is overseeing the affairs of the village till a new chief is appointed. There is also a traditional priest. One of the duties of the priest is to carry out a ritual of ‘purification’ on any alleged witch that arrives in the village before the person is allowed to live in the community.
Kukuo hosts one of Ghana’s ‘witch camps’, but I didn’t notice any restricted and exclusive area for alleged witches in this village. Instead I found Kukuo to be a community that welcomes ‘strangers’and provides a safety net for ‘old ladies’ as alleged witches are often called. I saw a community that gives alleged witches an alternative home and some hope in a country where anyone accused of witchcraft has two options – to flee to any of the witch camps or be killed.
In Kukuo, the women mixed freely with other members of the community without fear, discrimination or stigma.
No one knows exactly when the first ‘old lady’ arrived Kukuo, but from what I gathered from the community members, that was so many years ago. In fact I met some ‘old ladies’ in their 90s who came to Kukuo as teenagers to cater for their mothers who were banished for witchcraft. They stayed back after the death of their mothers and have adopted Kukuo as their home. Currently, there are 113 alleged witches living in Kukuo. Many of them came to this remote village by foot.
Written By: Leo Igwecontinue to source article at ieet.org