* * *My Auntie Efia was a beautiful women married to my father’s brother, Kwame. Our village is in northern Ghana. Efia was not only beautiful, she was clever and my dearest friend. She made us laugh with her song and dance. Like us, she had no great wealth, but she could always figure out a way to have the most beautiful dress that she would fashion with her own hands and dye in magnificent colors. Once, she made me such a dress on my tenth birthday. Her home, though no better than ours, was always swept clean and adorned with handmade utensils and dishes, colorful mats, woven baskets. Because she was so beautiful and talented, my life is now over before it ever began. I am doomed and I will tell you why.
It all began when Efia was given a cow by an international charity. They showed her how to care for it, how to make money from its milk, and how to birth a calf. You can imagine what such a gift would become in Efia’s clever hands. She was envied by all in the village and Kwame was too proud of her. She made him a wealthy man. Unfortunately, they had no children. Preventing a man from planting his seed in fertile ground is the sign of a witch. Worse, she was proud and spoke her mind. Everyone began to wonder what evil she would eventually bring to our village. The village landowners, the tindanas, said Kwame should cast her out before any trouble came upon them, but Kwame would not. He loved her too much and was not afraid of her powers.
Then it happened. Kwame suddenly became very ill and Efia did not possess enough magic to save his life. She cried many tears, even more when the village said Kwame’s death was her fault. My father called her witch. Efia fled to the Kukuo witch camp to save herself. When the priest slaughtered the rooster, it fell with its head down and its feet in the air. Now my father owns Efia’s cows and all that Kwame possessed, but I am sent to Kukuo to tend to my aunt for the rest of her days. Her beauty has faded. Every day I walk three miles to fetch water. We gather wood to sell. We die slowly. If only Efia were a witch, we might escape.