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GAMBAGA - WITCHES CAMP IN GHANA(23 images)

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Many Ghanaians, like many Africans, genuinely fear witches, old women who are said to cause all kinds of calamities and misfortunes, from infertility to impotence, drought to death. Suspicion and jealousy fuel the accusations, which are often supported by nothing more concrete than a dream. Convicted of witchcraft using traditional animal scarifies, the women are banished from their villages,...
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  • Despite Gambaga, there are 5 other wicthes camps in North East Ghana. The Nabule camp is one of them. 40 women are living there, in this isolated camp without electricity, and 3 hours drive from Gamgaba camp, are forgotten by the rest of Ghana. Only a few Catholic sisters visit the women and give them some support. Nevertheless, the women still suffer from a lack of access to healthcare, clean water and food.
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  • Amina Yahaya has been living in the Gambaga camp with her 4-year-old daughter for the past three years. She was blamed for the death of her sister-in-law who died during childbirth. Hounded by her neighbours she was forced to leave her home. She then went to live with her father, while her husband was left behind to find work. Her husband promised her that when he was earning enough money he would take her to live in the south of the country. However, after a year without receiving any news from her husband, her father took her to the camp and left her there. Since then, she has had no contact with any member of her family, and has still not heard from her husband.
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  • On the 5th of March 2008, Samare Wasila, 17 years old, dreamt that while she was walking to her grandmotherÕs house someone that she didn't recognize at first but would later recognize, had attempted to shoot her whilst they were in a car. When she awoke, she was in a state of shock. Physically in pain she was unable to talk. It was only once her voice had started to change that she decided to tell her father what had happened. Her father immediately interpreted this as a form of witchcraft...'My father sent the lady to us who denied from what I was accusing her. It is only when the fowl has been slaughtered and showed that I was right to accused her that she told the truth to the Gambarana. Now I can go back home, I am sure she will not try to kill me anymore ' says Samare.
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  • When a woman accused of witchcraft denies being a witch, the chief of her village usually sends her to Gambaga. Once in there the chief of the Gambaga camp, the Gambarana, sacrifies a fowl when he suspects a case of witchraft. Depending either the fowl lies on his witchcraft is a reaal witch or has been accused by mistake.
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  • Asomni Konkra arrived in Gambaga a year ago. She was accused of being a witch by her son's wife. Asomni believes she is a witch. For 10 years, when she was sleeping, she often saw her Ôspirit move around her like waterÕ. On the nights when it would happen, the experience would wake her up but she would be to frightened to go back to sleep. She never told anyone about the episodes, but they stopped after she came to the camp.
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  • Like Zenabu does, Asomni sells brooms for 5 Ghanaian pesewas (US 5 cents). She can make five a day. She collects the twigs to make them from the bush during the rainy season, lets them dry out and makes the brooms during the dry season.
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  • Kobepaa Matinga Tongo is getting her hair cut by resident of the camp.
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  • Women from the Nabule camp (NE Ghana) meet with their leader (usually the oldest woman living in the camp) to collect their food, which has been brought by a few of the catholic sisters. Only 30 woment are living in this isolated camp.
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  • Barimini Banawadana has lived in Gambaga for ten years. A girl that she hardly knew came to her house one morning accusing her of witchcraft. Even if she denied, her husband has been forced to bring her to the camp. She didn't know where she was going because she has never heard about witchcraft before. Even in front the Gambarana she insisted of not being a witch, so he sacrified a fowl. The chief explained her the meaning of this sacrifice and adviced her to settle in the camp because she would be in danger once back home. She was in chock when her husband left the camp without her. She didn't even have the opportunity to say goodbye to her 6 children. It took her one year to speack about her story with the women of the camp but she is still feeling sad because she wants to leave the camp but knows it will never happen.
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  • Inside a hut in the Gambaga camp.
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  • In Gambaga, each day is much like the last. The women go to the bush to collect firewood to sell, fetch water from the pipes situated 15 minutes walk from the camp and prepare their main meal - a porridge made of millet.
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  • Originally Gambaga has been created in 1900. The theory goes that a woman and her son who were on their way to the hills to be killed for witchcraft saw an Imam passing with.his entourage and threw themselves at his feet, begging him to spare their lives. He took them into the mosque and had them swear on the Qu'ran they would never practice.witchcraft again. The woman became a servant to the mosque, while the young boy was put into Islamic education and became a devout Muslim. Word spread that the mosque.was a sanctuary for women accused of witchcraft and they soon had hundreds of women when the Imam ordered the witches to be taken to the Gambarana, who was said to.have the spiritual powers to control the women. Today the Gambarana is respected not only by the women of the camp but also by villagers from North East of Ghana.
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  • Awabu Talara Mozorana Bupkrugu has lived in Gambaga for seven years. Shortly after her husband?s death, she was accused of using witchcraft to try to kill her brother-in-law..Her family turned on her and she was physically attacked and driven away from her community. Still bleeding from her wounds, she walked for three days to reach Gambaga..Seven years on, she still bares the scars from her ordeal and suffers from severe headaches as a result.
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  • The Gambarana created a traditional medicine especially for Awabu Talara Mozorana, as she suffers from headaches. She always keeps the liquid by her side. People from Awabu Talara Mozorana's former community physically attacked her, and 7 years on, she is still suffering from the wounds.
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  • Collecting firewood is one of the few things that the women can do independently to earn a living and which enables them to live in such harsh condition. Once they return to the camp, they divide the wood into piles.
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  • Nanyinpoa has lived for 3 years in the camp. She has been accused by her own family to be a witch. Her husband told her she deserved this situation. When she arrived in the camp, her sister was already there as being accused of witchcraft. Since then she leaves to God the responsability to decide if she is a witch or not.
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  • Electricity cables hang above the camp, as a way of providing electricity to the villagers outside. However, the camp itself is without electricity , and in the evenings, the women are forced to cook by moonlight.
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  • Aleeg has been forced 2 days ago to come and meet the chief of Gambaga -the Gambarana. She was brought by the family of a little girl who accused Aleeg of wanting to kill her. Bitten half way through she denied to be a witch but doesn't know now what her future will become. Later in the day, after a ritual - killing a fowl - she couldn't denie anymore to the Gambarana that she is a witch. Then the chief allowed her to stay and settle in the camp.
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  • During the rainy season, women collect millet and maize for the farmers, and in return they receive a few Ghanaian pesewas. In the dry season, they collect firewood from the bush, which they then sell on. Theses 2 activities will become soon Aleeg's new life.
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  • Sakina Mutaru arrived in Gambaga six months ago. One afternoon, her village chief sent for her. When she arrived at his home, there was a small girl waiting there with fabric around her face so that she would not be recognized...The chief stated that the girl had wanted to see Sakina Mutaru as she had dreamt that Sakina had bitten her. Since this occurred, Sakina now lives in Gambaga with her youngest daughter. Sakina believes, that had she stayed in the village she would not be alive.
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  • Material tools to cut firewoods int he bush, 45 minutes walk from the camp.
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  • Cobra Ngota has just arrived at the at Gambaga camp. She was accused of practising witchcraft, and still bares the wounds from when she was mistreaded. Cobra Ngota will now receive medical attention from the other women in the camp remains hopefully that now in Gambaga she will find refugee.
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  • Dong Laar will now leave the Gambaga camp and return to her village in Gagar, East Ghana. Having been away for the last thirty years,she will now live with her family that she barely knows.
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