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Gambaga witch-hunt survivor speaks at Norway conference on witch-hunting

Suuk Laari with Larry Ibrahim both in Ghana and in Norway

Sat, 8 Oct 2022 Source: www.ghanaweb.com

A woman who was branded as a witch and had to live in the infamous Gambaga Witch Camp in the Northern Region of Ghana for 15 years has made a first-time trip to Norway.

Suuk Laari was in Tromso, Norway, to attend the Coast Contemporary 2022 Conference as a guest of honour.

The conference aims to help raise awareness on modern-day witch-hunts.

Suuk’s story was made public in a Facebook post shared by a user, Larry Ibrahim Fataka Imf, a PhD Research Fellow at UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

The conference's theme was influenced by the master's thesis of Larry Ibrahim Mohammed, who wrote on the Gambaga Witch Camp.

“Suuk Laari has lived for 15 years in the Gambaga witch camp until this month. Last week, she joined us at the Coast Contemporary 2022 conference in Tromso, Norway to help raise awareness on modern day witch-hunt.

“I am extremely proud yet humbled to have worked with Tanja Eli Sæter, Founder and Executive Director of Coast Contemporary, to make Suuks participation a possibility and also for co-curating the Ghana part of the Program with me,” he wrote.

According to additional information shared by Larry Ibrahim, he described Suuk as a witch-hunt survivor.

“Suuk Laari lived in the Gambaga Witchcamp for 15 years. Like everyone from the Camp, her story unites with other women there who run away for their dear lives after being accused of witchcraft.


“The month of September 2022 will stand out as one of the best in her life. Suuk and Samson Laar, coordinator of the Gambaga witchcamp and the Presbytery, go home project, were invited to attend the Coast Contemporary conference 2022 in Tromso, Norway. Suuk was among the Guest of Honor,” he wrote.

He also spoke about the address Suuk Laari delivered at the conference, which focused on her personal story.

“Suuk Laari delivered a keynote, narrating the detail of her story on how she ended up at the Gambaga Witch Camp and her experiences while living there. She asked for a global effort to fight and criminalized the accusation of witchcraft and for more education on eradicating bad cultural practices. When asked about her thoughts on closing the witch camps, she emphasized that it is akin to scratching the surface of the problem. According to her, without the witch camp, she would probably have been dead and forgotten."

Samson Laar, on the other hand, called for more support to help feed the women in the Gambaga Witch Camp. As a coordinator of the Go Home Project, the main task has been re-uniting the women with their families and resolving any conflict that might have led to them relocating to Gambaga.

Larry’s thesis also won the Ase Hiorth Lervik prize for best Master thesis with a gender theoretical perspective in 2021 with a ceremony in Tromso, Norway.

About the Gambaga Witch Camp:

The Gambaga Witch Camp Ghana’s most popular camp for women regarded witches, mostly in the northern parts of the country.

The Camp is also a segregated community within the Gambaga township established in the 18th century to accommodate alleged witches and wizards who are banished from their communities.

The camp has about 25 round huts and holds about 100 women. No health services or indoor plumbing are available.

ActionAid’s Work in the Camps

In 2005 ActionAid Ghana supported the formation of a coalition called Songtaba, made up of 15 civil society organisations, public institutions and agencies committed to women’s rights. As well as providing basic services, more recently there has been a conscious effort to build their communication skills, improve women’s self-confidence and raise awareness of their rights.

In June 2009, ActionAid and Songtaba facilitated the formation of a network of alleged witches. Known as Ti-gbubtaba (which means ‘let’s support each other’ in the local Dagbani dialect), the network brings together all the residents of the six camps, giving them a strong, collective voice. The network has met local government representatives and some of their successes include registering camp residents on the National Health Insurance Scheme and obtaining food aid.

In 2010, ActionAid Ghana and Songtaba, in collaboration with the National commission on civic education, facilitated meetings between the network and the ‘sending communities’ – the villages from which alleged witches flee or are banished. Discussions were focused on the injustice and inhumane treatment the women receive, and the need to reverse the situation for good.

The 2008 ActionAid survey found that more than 90% of people surveyed in the villages said they were not aware that women had rights.7 So literacy and awareness-raising groups were set up in Gnani and Kukuo camps, providing opportunities for the women to discuss and analyse their situation and take specific actions to address it. This led to the formation of a network of alleged witches.

“I think ActionAid Ghana has been very effective in working with the alleged witches over the last few years,” says ActionAid country director, John Nkaw.

“We started dealing with their immediate needs... then we started looking at their own analysis of where they were and why they were where they were, building self-confidence and awareness of themselves as having rights. Some women say they now know they’re human beings’. And that for me is a success.”

ActionAid is currently working with stakeholders to support a private members bill that proscribes witchcraft accusations.


Source: www.ghanaweb.com
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