In this week’s Culture segment, Barbara Loundou talks about the dangers of cultural beliefs in witchcraft.
The first theme is that of people who live on the margins of the society because they were rightly or wrongly accused of witchcraft. In any case it is an area that can hardly be verified by the police or by the justice system.
These people are driven out of their homes and in some countries they end their lives in witch camps. This is particularly the case in northern Ghana. The country is still trying to get the camps officially closed. But elsewhere for example in Zambia these camps still exist.
A film on this matter was presented to about 15 directors a fortnight ago at the Cannes Film Festival. It was shot by Zambian female director Rungano Nyoni. It is called I am not a witch and tells the story of a young 9-year-old orphan wrongly accused of witchcraft who is sent to one of these camps. So she does everything to refuse this situation.
The second subject concerns albinos. Albinism is a genetic anomaly that leads to the absence of melanin. And to be born as an albino in some countries is considered a curse. They are often rejected by society. And worse still, some are killed or mutilated for witchcraft practices. Because according to certain popular beliefs, the parts of their bodies have magical powers.
In the run-up to elections, albino aggressions and murders have proliferated in some countries such as Tanzania where the rate of albinism is one of the highest in the world. Albinos in the country decided to raise awareness of their condition through music. Members of the Tanzania Albinism Collective live on an island in Tanzania that is a bit of a refuge for them where they are safe. They will be performing in England at the end of July during the WOMAD Festival.