About a month ago, I was tagged into a story of a Ghanaian named Barbara Boakye-Yiadom who was at the mercy of the crowd around her. The victim was stripped naked, in no time mob gathered, snapping pictures – luckily the police got there in time to prevent jungle justice.
More worrying was the crowd mentality of blaming everything we have little knowledge of as being witchcraft. If it doesn’t fit into the standard definition, then it must be evil and evil were to be outcasts.
The photos taken of Barbara Boakye-Yiadom were graphic – it was a case of an intersex, with visible male genitalia and female physical attributes.
Looking through some of the pictures, I got a bit more curious because normally ‘our’ victims of witch hunt looked like anyone on the street so I thought there must be more to the story.
Lots of personal stories on the web of real people sharing their experiences as intersex. Stories that no one in Nigeria or in many African nations would share even if their lives depended on it – we are just not that open-minded.
This interview was an eye-opening, time spent watching was well worth it for me.
This incidence in Ghana was quickly reduced to mental health issue and nothing more was heard about it. We fear digging more about the story and educating others could mean spreading negative news about Africa.
Before this day, I didn’t know anything about intersex but I am aware that in most of African countries, anything out of ordinary is considered evil. Our world is black and white no room for any in-between.
I read Mrs Baokye-Yiadom story because of witch accusation, little did I know I’d learn new things about human biology and sex ambiguities.
Now that I am a bit wiser about intersex and their challenges. Knowing my Africa, I could not imagine how life must have been for many people living in the dark especially with folks whose gender ambiguity is more pronounced – bless them is all I can say.
I am grateful that the world is a lot open now, at least families and communities who wanted to seek knowledge can reach out to the wider world and hopefully draw strength knowing they are not so strange after all.