Sunday, October 07, 2007

Belief kills and belief cures....

The title for my post today is a common saying in Jamaica. Just on a hunch I googled to see what I could find on that would better help me explain to my non-Jamaican readers what this means. One writer (sorry wasn't able to find the name to give appropriate credits) said it meant that belief, like faith, has the power to injure/kill or to heal/cure. This statement largely depends on who and what you (the individual) want to believe in.

This saying is something that pops into my head from time to time since I have been living here in Ghana. Dramatic news headlines and stories will relate to the reader the most ridiculous of circumstances in which people have lost their lives in what could best be described as unfortunate and avoidable circumstances. Those sad but true stories that readily come to mind include:
- the young ex-policeman who was killed by two men who he had asked to transport him across a river to a fetish priest as he wanted to double his money; the men be-headed him, stole the money and dumped his body in the river. They were later arrested for murder.
- the young man who assured his girlfriend that he was 'protected' by a spell from a fetish priest and was therefore invincible! As proof, he asked her to stab him and that was the end of that. He died of course.
- this magician/fetish priest from one of the neighboring Francophone countries who had been touring and performing 'feats of wonders' including shooting himself and surviving without being injured. Alas, alas during one performance he did die; his assistant was later arrested for murder.
The list could go on and on but yes, I guess one gets the picture.

Things however took on a different level last week Monday when the Daily Times reported an International Witches Conference that was being held here in Ghana. The report basically outlined the what the aims and objectives of the conference were, and how the witches aimed to achieve their targets. I won't even bother to repeat these here.

A teacher at my daughter's school actually read the article out for the students, resulting in many feeling scared and confused.I think it's bad enough that something like this was presented in a daily paper - there is no indication that this supposed two-month long conference is actually happening. A search on Google for the names and references mentioned in the article points you back to the article itself.

The last international conference that was to be held here was one for gays and lesbians. This created an uproar in the press, with many pronouncements by Ghanaian who-is-whos, the Ghana Government coming out and actually banning the conference and a sign at the airport saying that Ghana basically condemns sexually immoral behavior and people delving in such behavior would not be welcomed in Ghana. Hmm, still waiting for the uproar on this one, and when next I travel I will certainly look for the sign.

P.S. Conference aside, there are actual witches camps in Ghana, where mainly elderly women and a few men have been been forced to leave their villages as they have been branded witches. Unfortunately, the circumstances under which these persons have been sent to these camps is more to do with speculation and blame throwing than actual proof. I will be the first to admit that I still need to understand the issue though - will do some reading and make known in another post.


saskia said...

hey dee,
nice to be reading your recent posts.
I look forward to the publication of the accumulated scribbles!
On the witches camp, the same one that Bash (from CITRED) and I visited on our way back from Bawku? started by one of the ACDEP member stations.. i should delve into my scribbles to unearth which exact one..
I found this blogpost that gives a good background to the issue in Ghana
Hope it helps you to delve! ;)
love from the lowlands, miss u and Ashes xx

saskia said...

hmm, not sure that link came through fully