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Accra, Ghana, 4th August 2020 - Most recently, Ghanaians were shocked by the depraved lynching of an old woman accused of witchcraft in the Savana Region. A second incident was brought to the attention of the Ghanaian public by The Sanneh Institute of a young man and his father who have set up a base near Widana in the Pusiga District, claiming to use sachet water for healing and for identifying and exorcising “witches”. The belief in witchcraft however goes back many generations and is deep rooted and widespread in Ghanaian society. The belief is deeply embedded in African culture and most religious adherents – Muslims, Christian, traditional believers, literates, non-literates, persons from the rural and urban areas and across all professions and public servants, believe in the phenomenon. So called “witches’ camps” exist mostly in the northern part of Ghana, overseen by local chiefs some of who are involved in trial by ordeal to identify “witches”. The consequences of witchcraft accusations are devastating, ranging from social ostracism to exile from one’s community to beatings and murder.
Local authorities are aware of most of these cases, some share in the belief and others actively support it. They intervene and interfere anytime cases are filed with the police and victims are pressured and threatened to remain silent. It is against this background that The Sanneh Institute is requesting your support for the practice of accusing, stigmatizing and dehumanizing people as witches is outlawed in Ghana. In two cases above, some of the culprits have been apprehended. The arrest however does not mean an end of the journey. On the contrary, the journey has only begun, and The Sanneh Institute is issuing this petition to the President of the Republic of Ghana, The Speaker of Parliament, The Majority and Minority Leaders of Parliament, and The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection to bring about real and lasting change.
Finally, TSI will mount an educational program against the belief and practice of witchcraft in the country. We will put together a team of religious, legal and mental health experts, prepare teaching manuals on the subject and tour different parts of the country, starting from the northern regions. The teachings of traditional religions, Christianity and Islam all make it obligatory to protect and care for the weak and vulnerable, not to dehumanize and demonize them. The cancerous tree of witchcraft accusations has wreaked havoc on many families and lives of countless mothers, grandmothers, aunties, wives, sisters, daughters, nieces etc., and needs to be uprooted not pruned. Sadly, Akua Denteh was not the first to be lynched as a “witch", but if we can all say “enough is enough”, she could be the last!
On how you can join and/support the campaign, please contact email@example.com or +233506172909 Thank you, and God richly Bless you, for signing and supporting this petition!
Prof. John Azumah
The Sanneh Institute, Accra
Visiting Professor of World Christianity and Islam
Yale Divinity School – CT, USA