chapter  3
37 Pages

Child witchcraft occurrences and maltreatments

BySeth Tweneboah

This chapter uses child-witchcraft accusations and maltreatment to analyse and interpret the vibrant role of religious thoughts and rituals in the secular public domain. It assesses not only the resilience of religion but also its significant function in responding to the challenges secularism and modernity pose to society. As the secular and modern pressure mounts, belief in witchcraft increasingly becomes a coping mechanism. The chapter demonstrates that in the face of growing postcolonial uncertainties, religious imagination opens up spaces for marginalised children to (re)create their identity in society. The chapter departs from previous academic works on witchcraft by focusing on and introducing the notion of “self-bewitchment,” a notion which construes those “witches” who are insiders and experts of their own stories and situation. By placing emphasis on the self-bewitched, the chapter offers a justification for engaging in critical investigation of the often-ignored autobiographic accounts of confessed witches. It claims that in a desperate effort to fit into the uncertain society, disenchanted children tap into witch spirits as a levelling mechanism in their attempt to ensure social equity. As contemporary Ghana undergoes growing socioeconomic, political, legal, religious and moral changes following postcolonialism and modernisation, I claim, self-confessed witches mobilise and utilise witchcraft powers to find meaning in life.