Witch-hunts in the Media

Ghana and Nigeria boast a thriving film-industry. Nollywood-films have at least 2 parts and last at least 130 minutes, anyone can find a good deal of them via youtube. Many of these films visualize witches and witchcraft. An evergreen is “End of the Wicked” from Nigeria, a film  blamed for boosting child-witch-hunts:


 “Storybooks” are cheap penny dreadfuls. They contain a dozen of pages and are sold on market-places as educational literature.

The Ghanaian Storybook “Witches Night Club” mentions the ghetto for witch-hunt victims in Gambaga:

“That is why at times when following someone who is suspected to be a witch and you blow dust at the heels and if she cleans her eyes it proves undoubtedly that she is a witche, that is why someone was declared a witch his or her social status in the society or tribe was lost forever.

This is the reason why we have a witchcamp at Gambaga in the Northern part of Ghana, because when you are declared a witch by a witch doctor, medicineman, a spiritualist or a pastor, nobody will have anything to do with you.

You are however regarded as an outcast. Most people use charm, amulets in form of rings and necklaces to protect themselves from the witches. Others also vaccinate themselves with black powder to protect themselves against witches, as they believe that this concoction can make their blood and the flesh bitter and tasteless to witches.

Some of us have evil eyes and when cast on a farm the crops wither. As they feed on human flesh which is their main food and before the person is killed by the witches, it’s not by fluke but rather a close witch relative might have handed over the soul od this victim to the witches.

When for instance your sister, brother or mother is a witch or wizard and it’s their turn to supply your soul for a sacrifice and they don’t want to do so because they love you, what they do is to give you a strange sickness like leprosy, fit and other disgraceful sickness. This will deter the witches from killing you because as you can’t use a sick fowl or hen for your meal so the witches also dislike sick souls.”

Storybooks and films provide insights into forms of witchcraft-notions. Nonetheless, witchcraft-notions rarely enter a dogmatic system of thought. Christians, Moslems and Traditionalists all share intense anxieties about witchcraft, which differ at the local level. In the example above, the ghetto is integrated into the witchcraft-notions of the author.

A good number of films also plays with occult notions in a different way: Accused persons are then portrayed as innocent, the accusers themselves become suspicious of occult rituals.

This post is also available in: German