In many communities, witchcraft is treated with stern measures and those caught are always made to face the music no matter how harsh.
Instances abound where people caught practicing witchcraft are condemned to jungle justice. Some are even made to walk around the community naked or lynched by angry mob.
Many communities have dealt instant justice to those believed to practice the dark arts without recourse to the conventional punitive measures allowed by law.
Gadoro, a community in Kwaku ward of Kuje Area Council in the Federal Capital Territory is no exception when it comes to communities with defined ways of treating persons found to be evil doers or who practice witchcraft. Here they are called Sheri.
The community is made up mainly by Gbagyi-Nkwa speaking people. They are traditionally obliged to banish person found practicing witchcraft (Sheri) through the efforts of a masquerade called Kuchi. This disclosure was made by the traditional ruler of the community, Etsu Suleiman Adamu Gadoro.
Etsu Adamu Gadoro, who spoke with Aso Chronicle, said the Kuchi masquerade also has the power to fish out such persons from the community members, adding that the custom has existed over a period of time.
He described it as a divine pact that serves as an unbreakable link between the present generation and their forbears since societies such as theirs are replete with different kinds of evil.
He explains how persons practicing witchcraft are discovered in the community: “In a situation whereby somebody dies mysteriously and it keeps occurring or peace is eluding the community without any progress recorded, the elders will carry out some sacrifices. After the sacrifice, such persons (witches) will be discovered through the rites to be responsible for the calamities befalling the village. The elders will now go and meet with the masquerade and after that the person will be banished out of the community for the rest of his or her life,” he said.
In other cases, if such a person is caught, he said, the elders of the community will immediately come to report at the chief’s palace after which the elders will proceed to consult with the ‘Kuchi’ masquerade. The masquerade will now banish such a person from the community for his or her entire life.
He also spoke on another traditional aspect of the community members called Gbila.
“It is a burial ceremony that is usually organized for dead prominent elderly men or women, who must have attained the age of 80 years and above,” he said.
He said the burial ceremony is organized by the family members of the deceased, saying the ceremony always appears colorful.
According to him, during the ceremony, a member of the family of the deceased will mimic the kind of life such as the way of dressing, farming method or any kind of traditional medicine prowess exhibited by the dead person while he or she was alive.
The monarch explained that on the day such an old man or woman dies and is taken for burial, elders meet with the members of the deceased family to deliberate on arrangement for the final burial ceremony. He said guinea corn is poured on water for eight days to prepare a local beer (Burukutu) for guests, friends and relatives.
He also said a big ram and fowl are usually slaughtered at the deceased’s grave side after which the blood will be poured on top of the grave while an elder family member of the deceased will make some incantations. The meat will then be brought back home and used to entertain guests and the deceased family members.
“While at the grave, before the ram is taken home to entertain the guests and the deceased’s family members, the eldest of the deceased will go to the grave and go half naked on his knees to make some incantations, wishing the departed soul eternal rest and also seeking his continued provision for the family members,” he said.
“After that, the women will again proceed to another compound within the community and place the ram skin and head at the center of the compound and continue dancing round it. Guests who are watching will also drop a token of cash for them,” he added.
On infrastructural development in the community, the traditional ruler complained over the lack of a health care centre to enable residents of the community access treatment.
“Sometimes, most of the residents especially those that fall sick have to be conveyed on a motorcycle to neighbouring Kwaku or Kwaita villages to receive treatment. This is about three kilometers away and the road is bad,’’ he said.
He also complained of deplorable condition of the road linking neighboring Gadoro-Jijimbga and Takwa communities, which he said, has not been motorable by vehicles over the years.
“Besides, over 80 percent of residents of this community are mostly peasant farmers including other neighbouring villages, but the deplorable condition of the road has always been a problem to the residents of the community, especially during rainy season. In fact, as dry season is about to set in, we will soon mobilize residents to repair some portions of the road in order to enable vehicles transport farm produce to the market,’’ the monarch said.
He also lamented the lack of potable water in the community, saying women have to wake up early morning to trek far distance to a stream where they dig out sand to scoop water. He said the only borehole at the community has broken down for some years without being repaired.