Monday 1 January 2024

The Film Hangout: A Screening of ‘I Am Not A Witch’ by Rungano Nyoni

Film Enthusiasts at the Film Hangout in Abuja

By Marire Adebanjo

Every last Saturday of every quarter, Film Rats Club organizes a hangout for film enthusiast in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory. On October 28, 2023, ‘I Am Not A Witch’ was screened. This hangout was anchored by Tobi Marho and was held at the Hearts Heartist Creative Centre. 

‘I Am Not A Witch’ was written and directed by Rungano Nyoni. This British-Zambian film was made in 2017. In this film, an eight years old child was tagged a witch by the villagers, resulting in her being forced into joining the community’s witch camp with the disguise of a choice. A lengthy rope was tied to her back and then she would be locked up in a room. The community head gave her an ultimatum to join the witch camp or cut the rope and turn into a goat. This was metaphorical: she could admit she was a witch or die.

This film is based on real life experiences that are still ongoing today. There are still witch camps in Ghana, Zambia, Tanzania, some parts of Nigeria, and Kenya, among other countries. Victims of witchcraft accusations are usually women and girls. These women are either prosecuted after being accused or become weapons or tools to be used for whatever the authorities please.

For Shades of Us, the film served as a poignant reflection of the challenges faced by women accused of witchcraft. Apart from being segregated, they are oppressed. The narrative prompted a profound examination of societal norms and the blatant trampling of women's rights. Rungano's poignant statement, “Sometimes they imprison them and paint a border around them in chalk, and say, if you go past this point, you die”, resonated deeply, emphasising the grave consequences faced by those accused.

The lessons drawn from 'I Am Not A Witch' are profound and thought-provoking. It prompts contemplation on societal prejudices, the vulnerability of the marginalised, and the urgency to challenge oppressive systems. As a community, Shades of Us advocates for awareness, empathy, and a collective commitment to dismantling the discriminatory structures that perpetuate such injustices. This Film Hangout reminds us there is unity and oneness in stories, regardless of our varying ideals and perspectives. 

We recommend 'I Am Not A Witch' and encourage audiences to embrace the discomfort it elicits. It is a powerful tool for fostering empathy, challenging preconceptions, and instigating conversations about the deep-rooted issues it brings to light. The film serves as a catalyst for societal change, urging us all to confront the uncomfortable truths embedded in its narrative and work towards a more just and compassionate world.

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