Influencing judicial process using black magic: Experiences of court users from the Houses of Chiefs in Ghana

  • Alhassan Sulemana Anamzoya University of Ghana
  • Joshua Gariba University of Ghana
Keywords: Black Magic, Juju, Houses of Chiefs, court of law


The role of black magic in the court of law has not been given adequate academic attention. This research contributes to the literature of legal pluralism, hybrid courts and spirituality in the law courts, by exploring the experiences of court users in the Houses of Chiefs in Ghana, judicial bodies mandated by the 1992 Republican Constitution to adjudicate on matters affecting chieftaincy commonly called chieftaincy disputes. The empirical part of this research is drawn largely from a data set that was collected in 2006, 2007 and 2009, focusing on Regional Registrars (administrative heads of these judicial bodies), court clerks, disputing parties and their counsel, counsel to the various Houses of Chiefs, and the bailiffs who constitute the life wire of these courts. Primary data was gathered from these people through face-to-face interaction, coupled with observation of court proceedings. Content analysis of the data revealed that judicial proceedings as well as judicial decisions in the Houses of Chiefs are deeply influenced by black magic, otherwise referred to us juju. Whilst the influence of juju on these specialized courts may be oblivious to the ordinary observer, the disputing parties, their counsels, counsels to the various Houses of Chiefs, and other judicial personnel in the Houses of Chiefs are very much aware of it and their belief that it can influence judicial proceedings and judicial decisions.