|Popular Ghanaian Saying. Via Alice Armstrong. Used without permission.|
“Many ethnographies have described witches’ abilities to travel large distances in mysteriously little time. Rosalind Shaw’s Sierra Leonean ethnography recounts rumours of witches flying to London and back within an hour [...]. Similarly, the internet allows Sakawa boys to manipulate its compression of time and space, transcending national boundaries and engaging in worldwide spiritual travel. Shaw also describes how the Temne of Sierra Leone believe in an invisible, global space full of illicit wealth known as the ‘Place of Witches’: “Although its presence may be recognised everywhere, its incompatibility with moral personhood and community is registered both in its intangibility and in its tropes of perverted and predatory consumption: the agency of the witch is necessary for the pursuit of one’s desires within it” [...]. Similarly, Ghanaians discuss the moral sacrifice entailed when a Sakawa boy makes an occult entrance into the intangible global space of the internet and extracts wealth by preying on foreign victims.”[...]“Sakawa boy’s power as described by Akosua and many others is a particular form of occult agency which is distributed via the internet. Anthropologists have commented on the often ‘dividual’ nature of witchcraft personhood with witches having the power to be in multiple places at once; dispersing their agency via bodily transcendence whilst appearing physically present. Similarly, Sakawa boys are rumoured to appear as normal, sat in front of a monitor whilst their spirit possesses multiple foreign fraud targets.”[...]“West African witches are also commonly believed to have extra organs such as eyes and stomachs which are used to entrap or consume their victims [...]. Sakawa boys are similarly able to extend their bodies and consumptive powers via the internet, not via extraordinary physical traits but with numerous internet identities. Sakawa boys often have fake profiles on popular websites such as Facebook and Hotmail as well as on Western online dating communities. These profiles feature fake photos and thus allow the Sakawa boy to have multiple cyber bodies. Many Sakawa boys even switch gender using attractive female profile pictures to entrap fraud victims via online friendships or romance. It is therefore not surprising that many Ghanaians are wary of the potential predatory powers that the internet offers.”
Be seeing you,
Ps. A special shout-out to Singhilarity for bringing the initial Motherboard article to my attention.