Pastor Mensa Otabil has spoken against the description of old women in Ghana as “witches”.
Speaking to his congregations on Sunday May 8 about the trials of womanhood and motherhood on Mother’s Day, Dr Otabil said: “Isn’t it amazing the names we call women. We live in a culture where an old woman is called a witch. An old woman at the end of her life, after all the struggles of womanhood; that’s what we crown her with – [we call her a] witch.”
“When they are young and beautiful nobody calls them a witch, when she grows old and goes through all the cycles of life and the difficulties of life and needs the greatest care and encouragement, she’s a witch.
“And as Ghanaians, most of us are familiar with that. And isn’t it amazing that it is only old women who are called witches and the men are not called wizards? The old man is called a wise old man and the old woman is called a witch. Most of us have grown up in environments where in our families there was a witch. Almost every Ghanaian family has a witch. And the witch is a woman. And sadly, sometimes it’s another woman who calls that woman witch.
“Each one of us have grown in that environment; we have aunties who are witches, cousins who are witches, grand aunties who are witches – just grow a little, bend a little, lose a few teeth, and you become a witch. Calcium deficiency has become the sign of witchcraft. And we go demeaning them; unfortunately even churches have built whole ministries around this concept of witchcraft belonging to an older woman.
“And when there is trouble, some old woman is going to bear the brunt, the woman who brought us to life. It’s amazing how we can call our mother a witch. The one who carried you in the womb under some of the most depressing conditions and delivered you and helped you and breastfed you when you had no life, no power to stand on your own, kept you alive, when you were sick, nursed you, gave you medicine not to die, and now that you’re working, she’s a witch,” the founder of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC) said.
Dr Otabil noted that sometimes, the biological changes women go through as they age, cause them to act in strange ways that make people conclude that they are witches. “Age by itself can make a person depressed, and one of the problems women go through is because of the process of birth and the hormonal changes that take place because of birth. As they grow older, there are hormonal imbalances and hormonal imbalances can make you act in very strange ways, depression can make you call yourself things you haven’t done, you can accept blame for things you didn’t cause, so, you can find a nice woman who’ll say: ‘I killed my children’. And it is not witchcraft, it is depression. It’s hormonal imbalance, and for us in Ghana, when that happens, instantly, we say: ‘Well, she has spoken it, she has confessed’. Isn’t it amazing only we [Africans] confess, what about the white women? Why don’t they also confess? Because when they do [confess], people understand it is depression. Here when they do it, we say its confession. And a whole prayer meeting [will be held] and demons are going to be cast out of the poor woman”.
Dr Otabil said mothers are very special people and so “it is not for nothing that Mother’s Day is celebrated more than Father’s Day because being a father is very easy, but being a mother is a lot of hard work. …Motherhood is a calling. It comes with a high responsibility. And many women have gone through that under very difficult circumstances. It’s a responsibility that sometimes is mismanaged...”