By Maxwell Nkansah
The Sanneh Institute Legon, a research institute has discovered more than 536 witch camps exist. There are five (5) camps in total. One was successfully closed down in 2014. All the camps are in the former Northern Region, now in the re-demarcated Northern and North-East Regions.
These figures are not absolutes as victims move out and new one move into the camps regularly. These camps are, Gnani Camp, near Yendi with 200 inmates, Kukuo Camp, near Bimbilla with 149 inmates. Eighty two (82) inmates are located at the Gushegu Camp. Whiles the Kpatinga Camp, near Gushegu has 27 inmates. The Gambaga Camp has 78 inmates bringing the total to 536.
Executive Director of the Sanneh Institute, Prof. John Azumah says demographics show that the overwhelming majority of the victims in the camps are from the Konkomba ethnic group. More than 80%. Followed by Dagomba, Mamprusi and Bimoba in that order” .
According to him, nearly all the victims are accused by family members, some by their own children, and others by chiefs. But anytime a victim dies, the family will show up to convey the body home and perform the funeral rites”. He revealed.
It reveals that in all the camps, except Gushegu, there are traditional shrines and priests known as Tendanas, who perform the rituals and act as overseers of the camps.
There are neither walls nor gates at the camps. But there are gatekeepers! All the priests say the victims are free to return home anytime their families wanted them back.
But there are caveats! Some of the priests openly admit that most of the accusations are fabrications out of pure malice, hatred, jealousy, poverty and ignorance The victims fend for themselves, and their daily feeding is a huge challenge Most are afraid to return home for fear of the accusers and for fear of been accused again Some of the priests say only government and the chiefs can bring about closure of the camps.