- texts, public speech
- DOBES Archive
This is a recording of a village court in Yokwa/Safs village.
The village court took place over several days and involved 4-5 different cases. This set of recordings was shot over the course of one day and it covers part of only one court case. The two opposing parties are sitting a opposite sides of the village square. There are many spectators. The magistrates are sitting under a little roof at on end of the square. The magistrates come from several villages (Rouku, Indorodoro, Wando). This court case is about one family (Sangara clan) which accuses three men from another family (Bangu clan) of using black magic. The Sangara family has had several members who had become sick, some have passed away. At the same time, this family had not "repayed" girls to the Bangu family. Therefore, they accused the Bangu family of being responsible for the sickness and death.
The formal rules are very strict during a court hearing. Only one man from one side talks at a given time. He will walk to the middle of the square and pick up a stick. This is a sign of claiming the floor. Then he talks angrily and vigorously until he leaves and a person from the other side claims the floor. There is a stick planted in the middle of the square. A sorcerer who admits his guilt will pull out the stick. I was told that this has happened the previous day.
There case was not settled during the time I visited Yokwa. This was partly due to the fact that it could not be determined whether or not black magic was used. Towards the end of the court case, an expert consultant examines one of the three Bangu brother to check whether or not he is a sorcerer. No concluding judgment was passed, however.
All recordings were made with a CANON XA10 with a mounted shotgun microphone (RODE VIDEOMIC)