Powerful Portraits of Accused ‘Witches’ in Ghana Showcase Women’s Strength

1 / 07 / 2016

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“In Western pop culture, the word “witch” elicits thoughts of feminine badassery — Sabrina’s wry eye rolls, Hermione’s tenacious fight for social justice, practicers of 1970s-spawned Paganism crafting potions and practicing chants. At its most malevolent, the word harkens back to depictions of “froward” women, like the soothsaying sisters in “Macbeth.”

The idea that the “witch” label could be used to suppress or condemn may feel like a distant historical fact to those of us who studied the Salem witch trials, which are cast in an unreal glow when examined from a safe remove. But for the women of the Gambaga, a camp in Ghana for women accused of witchcraft, the descriptor is very real, a force that has separated them from their families, their communities, and any feeling of security they might’ve possessed prior to accusation.

Photographer Eric Gyamfi traveled to the East Mamprusi District, where he met with the camp’s chief, Yahaya Wuni. After a thorough questioning, visitors are allowed to see the camp, accompanied by one of the chief’s daughters or trusted subjects. “I explained that I wanted to photograph them the way I would my grandmother, and I did photograph them the way I would my grandmother,” Gyamfi said. “I want the viewers to possibly ask, ‘Where are the witches?’

Although Gyamfi uncovered tragic stories while visiting the accused women, he hoped that his photo project would not dwell only on their hardships; instead, he hoped to convey the humanity of the accused, working toward a global solution to the discriminatory problems that landed them there in the first place. 

“How do we get people to realize, and empathize, that the other humans they abuse and stigmatize are just flesh and blood like them?” Gyamfi said. “[They’re] human, strong and vulnerable at the same time, capable of good and bad just like anyone else.”” – Excerpt taken from Huffington Post. 

To view the full article, please click here. 

View Gyamfi’s full series on his site.

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