Their corpses should be respected!
You won't believe what I am about to say, but it is real. Among the Orokos in Ndian Division, South West Region of Cameroon, It is believed that women who die during labour, while giving birth, or shortly after giving birth are witches. Such women have their corpses maltreated and buried as if they were fowls.
In the Oroko ethnic community of southwestern Cameroon, it is a traditional belief that swine mystically inhabits the stomachs of some women, who are capable of witchcraft and morph into swine at night. When these women become pregnant, they give birth to baby swine in the bushes and risk losing their lives if they try to deliver their babies in the real world. It is alleged that some women introduce other women to this witchcraft practice by force, and some other women ask for it since they believe that if you have swine witchcraft you become more beautiful. But the validity of this practice and belief cannot be verified.
Following this belief, many label women who die during childbirth as witches. These women don’t receive a traditional burial.
Firstly, it is not allowed for mourners or well wishers to view the corpse, if they view it, then a traditional cleansing is done to everyone who viewed the corpse.
This situation puts pregnant of Oroko origin in constant fear, they get into labour already tensed. They always have it in the back of their minds that should anything happen, they will be labelled as witches and their corpses desecrated. This will usually leaves a strong stigma amongst surviving family members, as they battle with the daily insults of having one of them die because of witchcraft.
The interesting thing is that, most of the women who have died in this process are poor women who lack money to attend ante-natal clinic. I witnessed a case where the said woman did not attend ante-natal even for a day. She laboured for several hours in a traditional maternity that lacks even basic equipments, attended to by a lone traditional midwife. she later died in the process. Unfortunately, she was labelled as a witch and her corpse laid on the backyard of her mothers house, on the bare floor, naked and covered with a loin cloth from head to toe. She was buried shortly after, naked and with no casket. Traditional cleansing was done to all present at the funeral and all mourners and well wishers are asked to go to their various houses immediately. Then rumour mongers now go about spreading the word that the said woman died of swine witchcraft.
Cameroon is off track to reduce its maternal mortality ratio by 75 percent by 2015 – goal five of the Millennium Development Goals, a U.N. anti-poverty initiative agreed to by countries worldwide. There are 600 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in Cameroon, according to UNICEF’s latest adjusted data.
Now, whether some women actually have swine witchcraft or not, there is no proof as to who really have it. Therefore I call for respect for all corpses. I call for cancellation of such practice because it puts women under stress of the unknown thereby bringing labour complications. Instead, there should be widespread sensitization on the importance of ante-natal clinic so that women can have their babies checked during pregnancy. This will in turn help in reducing maternal mortality among the Orokos of Ndian Division. The old is gone, let's put harmful traditional practices and beliefs aside and embrace the new.
You can read the original version of this article following this link Cameroon is off track to reduce its maternal mortality ratio by 75 percent by 2015 – goal five of the Millennium Development Goals, a U.N. anti-poverty initiative agreed to by countries worldwide. There are 600 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in Cameroon, according to UNICEF’s latest adjusted data.