Bolgatanga is preparing to host the worldwide premiere of the ﬁlm ‘Pakorpa Susangho’ – a powerful exploration of how corruption impacts on widows in the Upper East region –
As our country asks the most fundamental question ‘who will lead us?’, the issues surrounding land and corruption remain conspicuously absent from the national conversation. ‘Pakorpa Susangho’ (Widow’s Cry) is a unique short ﬁlm devised and shot by ten widows from Kulbia, thirteen kilometres from central Bolgatanga. A small group of widows used cutting-edge production techniques and equipment, including Apple iPads as powerful video cameras.
The ﬁlmmakers, whose ages range from 29 to 60, lack any formal education yet learned to operate the equipment with conﬁdence and skill during a workshop packed with fun games and exercises. “Sometimes we underestimate the women because they are illiterate but we’ve seen how they can use video cameras…everyone could do it”, observed Betty Ayagiba, founder and former director of the project’s local partner Widows & Orphans Movement (WOM).
Widows represent perhaps the most marginalized and disadvantaged group in the Upper East. Losing a beloved husband leads to women being labelled a ‘witch’ and accused of having killed her husband. Tens of thousands of women across the region endure humiliating widowhood rites, alienation from community life, discrimination, verbal and physical abuse. But this is just the beginning of her suffering.
Countless widows are evicted from their meagre farmlands by their late husband’s families. Unless they agree to remarry within the family (typically to a brother-in-law) the land is seized, rendering grieving widows unable to support themselves and their children. As is so often the case, behind the scenes lurks the silent hand of corruption.
‘Moogre’ (as corruption is known locally) is almost invisible by its ubiquity. ‘Tipping’ the Chief or the Tindana (traditional land custodians) is expected, even mandatory. Yet ‘tipping’ is just a lazy euphemism for corruption. Those with the deepest pockets give the most generous ‘tip’, which invariably leads to land disputes being resolved in their favour. The impoverished widow doesn’t stand a chance.
This is the central theme of ‘Pakorpa Susangho’. The widowed ﬁlmmakers have explored their personal experiences and those of their immediate neighbors. During the course of the production they interviewed Chiefs, Assembly Members and numerous Tindanas; challenging them on the role of corruption in decisions to evict widows from their land. They hope that shedding light on this hidden issue will eventually lead to a fairer society for any woman unfortunate enough to outlive her husband.
The premiere will be held at the GHS In-service Training Centre, Bolgatanga, on Friday 7th October. Representatives from the House of Chiefs and key government departments, as well as local leaders and members of civil society, are among those invited. Following the event in Bolgatanga, this extraordinary ﬁlm moves on to Quito (Ecuador) to take its place at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III).
Source: Widows and Orphans Movement