Niche fests, cable outlets and venues hospitable to anthropological docs are natural habitats for “Witches in Exile,” Allison Berg’s sobering study of contemporary West African women victimized by primal fears and ancient superstitions. Judicious trimming of slightly overlong pic might lead to pubcast airdates.
In parts of Ghana, women accused of sorcery still are subject to vigilante violence. Many “witches” are severely beaten before being exiled to remote camps. As one West African commentator notes, “If you are quarrelsome, if you a loner, if you are too rich, if you are boastful — you may be accused of being a witch.” (If a woman is too old to have children, her husband may be agreeable to her forced departure as well.) Berg interviews various women sentenced to the Kukuo Witches Camp, an isolated community where living conditions are harrowingly primitive and the residents — mostly women middle-aged and older — grimly struggle to survive. There are no guards or fences, but the women remain there because they assume — perhaps rightly — they will never again be accepted anywhere else.