The old woman was a principal witness in the celebrated case. She came to testify that another woman was a witch. She had all the documents to that effect. She was not merely mimicking Malik Kweku Baako. Like him she claimed she had solid proof.
The bizarre case had drawn a multitude to the courthouse and the judge was clearly having a field-day as the centre of attraction. He felt extremely important on this occasion.
A middle-aged woman stood calmly in the dock, accused of dispatching little children to eternity, using witchcraft otherwise known as African Electro-Physics. She was also accused of killing adults who met their deaths in very unusual circumstances. One was said to have drowned himself in a well.
The judge was amused by the entire case. He was well aware that in a superstitious society, belief in the existence of witches and wizards was something that could not be discounted. But he also had a scientific mind and could hardly fathom how witches were said to propel themselves through the air like British Airways or Lufthansa.
Whatever it was, the case was to proceed. Testimonies were given about this woman in the dock. Some testified that the accused had permanently red eyes, meaning she drank blood at night. Others said she had the kind of face that changed like a chameleon. And most importantly four of her grand-children died but not of natural causes.
The honourable judge smiled broadly as the testimonies poured forth. He had heard eerie stories about witches using their husband’s testicles to play table tennis. The Chinese call it Ping-Pong. The husbands became tourists, going from doctors to herbalists to faith healers to seek relief for their inflamed balls.
It often came out that the source of the pain was electronically engineered via witchcraft. So the witch had to be found and exorcised and the pain stopped and the man resumed the normal use of his sexual talents. Witchcraft is real but can it be proved in court?
The prosecution said they could prove their case beyond reasonable doubt that this woman callously murdered children and adults using witchcraft. The judge asked the principal witness to mount the witness stand.
“You know that woman standing there.”
“Yes, I know her very well.” “How do you know her?”
“She is a neighbour and also a member of our group.”
“What group?” “Group of witches.”
The audience roared in delight at the revelation. The judge was furious and announced that it was an offence to disturb proceedings in court. Nobody listened to him. There were murmurs and titters around. The cross-examination continued.
“What does your group of witches do?” ‘We meet at night to feast.”
“Human blood and meat!”
The uproar was much louder and the judge’s gavel went up and down.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “I don’t mind citing all of you for contempt of court and locking you away in police cells. Be very careful!”
The proceedings: “You speak so eloquently about your group of witches and your tasty meals of human blood and human meat, probably barbecued, if not grilled. How do we believe you? What is the proof that these things actually happen? Remember you are under oath.”
“The proof is that I am also a witch. I am giving first hand testimony. This is not hearsay.”
“So you are testifying that this Madam actually killed those children and adults afore-mentioned?”
“Now the onus lies on you to prove that you are a witch so that we can believe your testimony.”
The old woman said she was capable of proving it. “I can turn myself into a vulture right now to prove I’m a witch: she said, amidst another uproar. The judge suspended his jaw in awe, gaping at the old woman claiming she could do the impossible.
He considered the issue for a while, wondering if he was prepared to turn his courtroom into a circus. But the woman had now thrown the ball into his court and it was up to him to ask her to turn herself into a vulture.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said; ”we have come to a very important stage in the proceedings. We shall allow this woman to prove that she indeed is a witch by transforming into a vulture. So Madam, over to you.”
The accused now stepped out of the dock and asked the judge to also come down from his bench. Reluctantly, he did and tension began building. Then said the woman, “I can change myself into a vulture only if this judge can strip himself, because I can only change in front of a naked person.”
A sudden buzz of disapproval was registered among the spectators, but the judge said he was up to it, just to prove that the woman could not do as she claimed. He began peeling off his huge robe and vest and took off his shoes before the court clerks came up to drag him into the judge’s chamber amidst a prolonged uproar.
This judge should not have tried this case in the first place. Matters of the spirit are inadmissible in court or even in the chief’s palace or anywhere. In Ghana today, there are many trials by ordeal. Witch-doctors have their circuit courts. Some churches now operate courts, and so-called witches are chained in the sun for days on end to exorcise them, much against their rights.
Mad people are sent to prayer camps and starved ostensibly to make them regain their sanity. Isn’t it celebrated nonsense?
Author: Merari Alomele
Source: The Spectator