Media and Witchcraft Accusation in Northern Ghana

A Study of the Dagomba Community

In: Secular Studies


There has been a growing visibility of witchcraft beliefs in the African media. The dominant paradigm in the academic literature on witchcraft is that the media reinforce witchcraft beliefs by disseminating information and ideas that are related to witchcraft accusations and witch hunting. However, a careful examination shows that this is not always the case because the media serve other counter purposes. Using ethnographic data from the Dagomba area in Northern Ghana and the concept of forum shopping, this paper explores how accused persons in the Dagomba communities utilize the limited media coverage to enhance their responses to witchcraft accusations. Apart from disseminating information regarding the activities of assumed witches, the media publicize perspectives that reject witchcraft notions.

  • Adinkrah, Mensah. 2015. Witchcraft, Witches, and Violence in Ghana. Berghahn Books.

  • Adombilla Maxwell Akaalare, 2014. “Gambaga Chief Wants Support for Accused Witches” Daily Graphic February 28: [Online] Available from

  • Algero, Mary Garvey, 1999. “In Defense of Forum Shopping: A Realistic Look at Selecting a Venue.” Nebraska. Law. Review. 78 79.

  • Asamoah-Gyadu, J., 2015. Kwabena. “Witchcraft accusations and Christianity in Africa.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research. 39, no. 1: 23.

  • Asare, George, 2009. “The media liberalization and democracy: experiences from Accra, Ghana.” Master’s Thesis, University of Tromsø.

  • Asante, Frank, and Faith Junko Ogawa. “The Role of The Ghanaian Media Towards Achieving Independence.” [Online] Available from

  • Ashforth, A., 2005. Witchcraft, Violence and Democracy in South Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Badoe Yaba, 2010. The Witches of Gambaga. Film Gambaga [Online] Available from

  • Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von, 1981. “Forum shopping and shopping forums: Dispute processing in a Minangkabau village in West Sumatra.” The Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law 13, no. 19: 117–159.

  • Bierlich, Bernhard. 2007. The Problem of Money: African Agency & Western Medicine in Northern Ghana. New York: Berghahn Books.

  • Brukum, N.J.K. 2001. The Guinea Fowl, Mango and Pito Wars: Episodes In The History Of Northern Ghana, 1980–1999. Accra: Ghana Universities Press.

  • Dery Marcelinus, 2013. “Youth Attack Old Lady Accussed of Witchcraft” Daily Graphic 12 January: 18.

  • “DOVVSU to Rescue Girls Tagged Witches in Bomase Eastern Region”, 2015. Myjoyonline August 13:

  • Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. 2011. African Media Barometer: The First Home Grown Analysis of the Media Landscape in Africa (Ghana 2011). Windhoek: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) fesmedia Africa.

  • Forum Shopping Reconsidered. Harvard Law Review 103, no. 7 (1990): 1677–696.

  • Ghana Witches. 2008. Video. National Geographic.

  • Gyesi Zadok Kwame, 2015. “The Spiritual Shackles: A Peep into the Witches’ ” Camp. Daily Graphic Thursday, 10 September:

  • MacGaffey, Wyatt, 2006a. “A history of Tamale, 1907–1957 and beyond.” Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana 10:109–124.

  • MacGaffey, Wyatt, 2006b. “Death of a king, death of a kingdom? Social pluralism and succession to high office in Dagbon, northern Ghana.” The Journal of Modern African Studies 44, no. 01: 79–99.

  • MacGaffey, Wyatt, 2013. Chiefs, priests, and praise-singers: History, politics, and land ownership in northern Ghana. University of Virginia Press.

  • MacGaffey, Wyatt, 2015. “Politics and Cosmographic Anxiety.” In Evil in Africa: Encounters with the Everyday, eds. William C. Olsen and Walter E.A. van Beek, 91–101. Indiana: Indiana University Press.

  • Mahama, Ibrahim. 2004. History and Tradition of Dagbon. Tamale: GILLBT Printing Press.

  • Morrison Sarah, 2012. “Ghana’s Witch Camps Last Refuge of the Powerless and the Persecuted,” Independent August 26.

  • Osei Akwasi, 2015. “Kill This Witch Belief” Daily Graphic 26 May:

  • Owusu, William Yaw. 2012. “The Ghanaian Media Landscape: How unethical practices of journalists undermine progress.” Reuters Institute Fellowship Paper. Oxford: University of Oxford.

  • Rasmussen, Robert K., and Randall S. Thomas. 1999. “Timing matters: Promoting forum shopping by insolvent corporations.” Northwest. University Law Review. 94: 1357.

  • Wahab Gibril Abdul, 2013. “ ‘Witch’ Given Ultimatum: Cure the Sick or Face Death”. The Finder Friday 31 May.

  • Whitaker Kati, 2012. “Ghana Witch Camps: Widows’ Lives in Exile” [Online] Available from BBC Magazine September 1:

  • Witches In Exile, 2005. DVD. San Francisco: Allison Berg, [Online] Available from

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 23 23 9
Full Text Views 1 1 1
PDF Downloads 1 1 1