Ghanaian writer “True Murder” and filmmaker “The Witches of Gambaga“, Yaba Badoe is interviewed by Beti Ellison [African Women in Cinema Blog]. Yaba discusses how she first visited the village of Gambaga and the long journey to gain the trust of the women and their “protector” and ultimately complete the film.
I first heard about the Witches’ camp at Gambaga in January 1995 when I was covering a story in Tamale for the BBC World Service. I was working as a stringer for the BBC’s Network Africa back then. I returned to Tamale in March of the same year, hoping to make a day trip to Gambaga to interview some of the women living at the camp. 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. I had to spend the night in Gambaga. I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking what would happen to me if I was accused of witchcraft and the chicken test went against me. How would I let my family down south know? It was then, I suspect, that alleged witches became more than objects of my curiosity. Instead they became women I identified with, because I could see that but for an accident of birth, I could easily be one of them…...Continue here