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November 11 at 4 p.m.—I Am Not a Witch. [93 minutes]—Language: English and local lan­guages with English subscripts—Rating NR [but the theme is demanding; I’d give it a PG-14]—Let’s begin with a look back to Halloween but with a serious message about feminism and values. At the center of “I Am Not a Witch” is Maggie Mulubwa, who says very little yet manages to convey multitudes with her face and her eyes. This is a feat made more impressive by the fact that Zambian Director Rungano Nyoni gives us absolutely no backstory on Shula. Like her, we are thrust into this world of carefully calibrated insanity and left to fend for ourselves. The elder who christens Mulubwa’s unnamed character “Shula” does so because the word means “uprooted.” Shula has indeed been uprooted; she’s been displaced by society and left to wander as a lost soul. But like many lost souls, her presence is strongly felt and will never be forgotten. After I [Reinhold] had previewed the film, I wondered how close it was to reality. Apparently, the Zambian director had conducted research in Ghana where there are indeed several witch camps. Wikipedia writes: Witch camps exist solely in Ghana, where there are at least six of them, housing a total of around 1000 women. Such camps can be found at Bonyasi, Gambaga, Gnani, Kpatinga, Kukuo and Naabuli, all in Northern Ghana. Some of the camps are thought to have been set up over 100 years ago. The Ghanaian government has tried to close some witch camps but gave up on the attempt when it found that villages would not readmit these rather abused and rejected women nor the kids who followed their mothers or relatives to the camp. The camps give these rejected people social contact and protection; that’s why the governmental efforts were stopped. The next visit to Ghana should include a visit at a witch camp; then tell us about what you saw. The film in magical surrealism is fictitious, highly symbolic, but shows some very real attitudes. This film is available on KweliTV and on Netflix. Perhaps we can get some discussion going after the film.

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