‘WOULD YOU NOT BE AFRAID IF THEY CALL YOU A WITCH?’

She appeared suddenly from the Mahangu fields next to the village. Her old thin and wrinkled arms full of Mahangu.

Slowly she walked straight to me: Êhwah! She greeted me!
Born on 30 January 1930 in Mahangu, today a wild life reserve 20 Km south of Divundu on your way to the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

While we were sitting under a tree in that same Mahangu field where she collected the Mahangu her daughter told me:

‘ After my second sister died we took her to a witchdoctor because we suspected my mother to be a witch, killing her daughters, my sisters. The witchdoctor gave het mr something to drink, if you die it is a confirmation that you are the witch in the family causing death and other bad stuff. She did not die , but was vomiting a lot! According to the witchdoctor she was stronger than him that is why his potion where not able to kill her. If some one in the family die again we need to a stronger witchdoctor to stop her, he said’

Well another family member did die, she explain, that is why we want to kill her!

Repuruka had a handbag with her! She was fiddling with it the whole time , never looked up to her 3 children who was sitting next to her.

I tried to make her feel comfortable by asking questions about her childhood , wildlife at that time in Mahangu and the great Okavango river. Later she start to look up and her eyes met mine…did I hear her eyes saying; Are you also going to accused me!!!,  or was it my imagination?!

At that time three young boys ( age 9,7 and 6) came back from school and joined the conversation in the Mahangu field!

Than her son asked me directly: Do you think that she is a witch? Whit out hesitation I said: No! I don’t believe it!

I than asked her directly: Are you afraid if you hear your children accusing you of being a witch?

For a few seconds there were absolutely silence…even nature holds its breath…and than she looked me straight into my eyes and said:

“Wouldn’t you be afraid if your family accused you of being a witch?”

Everything in me , every muscle, every drop of blood revolted against this superstitious believe that is tolerated in the name of culture. a Believe that brings huge tensions and distrust in families.

I turned to her daughter, the judge and jury of her mother, and said:

One day your mother will be dead and you will be old and family members in your family, younger than you will die…and then they will accused you to be the witch of the family and your life will be in danger!

Maybe , you will be in your hut , listening to the outcry coming from another hut in the village because a young person had died and you know you will be accused but you also know that you had nothing to do with it but believe it about your own mother and now it is your turn to be the witch! How do you think you will feel and how are you going to disapproved it?

I am sure that I could see the frightening thoughts in her eyes for a moment! Well I hope that she can’t sleep tonight being haunted by this thoughts!

I told the family and the old one about the village we want to build , where she will be save and the community hopefully be educated from about so called witches.

And than again the daughter asked me: What will the advantage be for the family?

I said: If a witchdoctor or who ever planted the seed of evil in your minds about your mother being a witch, he/she knew that one of you will some day trying to be the hero of the family and killed her… And than he/she will surely go to jail! So , my dear lady to answer your question: Our village will not only be a save place for your mother but will also keep one of your family members out of jail by not giving him/her the change to be a murderer like the man of KAKE village who is now in jail as you all know!

I greeted everyone and turned to the 3 schoolboys saying: Please tell your teachers I want to come to your school and teach you about the Brain and witches like your grandmother!

You might be disagree with my methods but tonight I hope that another witch will go to bed with hope for herself and so called witches like her!

Education is the strongest weapon which can change the believes about witches and wizards in the Kavango!


 

 

 

EDUCATION THE STRONGEST WEAPON

‘Education is the strongest weapon through which one can change the world’ ( Nelson Mandela)

Christoff is working at the petrol filling station in Divundu. I met him on Monday ( 11/4/16). My favorite line when I am traveling in Nambia : ‘Do you know a Witch?’ , start the conversation with Christoff.

“My grandmother is a Witch. Last year I was very ill because she bewitched me. After I recovered , I told her:

If you don’t stop bewitching us ( family) I will cut of your ears because you are not listening and after that I will kill you”

Frieda is the floor manager of Namushasha Lodge in east Caprivi on the banks of the Kwando River.

Last night at dinner I explained to her what I am doing and why I am here. Three times she stopped me and said:

When are coming to us to help us also in the Zambesi?
After showing her the pictures of Ndjinaa and  asking her about her understanding of witchcraft she said to me:

” I think it is only uneducated people who keep on running to witch doctors when they getting jealous about some one like me who are rising up and start to have a better live. Education is very important to counter the superstitious believes of witchcraft. The witch doctors is making only big money.

If their bewitching is not working they always say: “The person who you want me to bewitched went to a stronger witch doctor than I am”

Being in the Kavango/Zambezi is proofing to me that the first step in any region is to established a place where ‘witches and Wizards’ can be save.

A place that can also be the place from where ADN can start education programs in the community , from as young as possible ,to help people Understand Dementia and the impact on the lives of people living with brain diseases/disorders caused by the superstition of witchcraft.

I am today on my way to meet Headman Coster. He had a meeting with the community and they agreed that he need to give ADN a place where a save haven for ‘witches and wizards’ can be build.

Comfort a unmet need

A STORY OF LOVE AND COMFORT

Many moons ago , when Christmas trees where tall and our two daughters where small,

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Sufrani and Elsabe with me and my wife

we as family travelled a lot , and every time when we travelled through the country side and Sufrani and Elsabe noticed big animals with their ‘children’ They always said:

There is the mother ( s) and their children! For me it was very annoying , because It was a proof that I as father and fathers in general was absent fathers in their little minds.

Being with people living with dementia, for a great part of my life the last year or more ,corroborated their statement day by day!

Why? You maybe asked me:

Because in many different ways , we as care givers , very often hear our ‘dementia family’ speak about, or asked for, or cry for their mothers when they are in need for comfort, feels alone or are afraid, or any other unmet need their long term memory reminds them of their mothers, who might be the one who can help

They are calling out for their mothers, hallucinating about their mothers and even act like one another’s mother!

I like to share with you one of the most beautiful ‘mother child comforting’ acts that happened this week at our Dementia care home !

Look at the picture and try to celebrate the beauty of humanity with us, despite dementia! You can, if you do understand that this is a single bed and the ‘child’ in this case is Tannie Sophia who is blind but found her way at night to the bed of her ‘mother’ Tannie Joey!

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Joyi [left] and Sophia [ right]

REMEMBER LINDA

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a Remberance Tree. Linda’s fig tree , where we can go and sit in the shade and enjoy the fruits while remembering her as one of our family memebers, who has joined us in 2010.

She laughed a lot, live dancing and got angry with herself when she struggled to express herself with words that dementia stole from her memory.

she also taught us that music is and will always be part of us, humans but music can also be very annoying and I hope my wife and family will remember that ‘boeremusiek’ is one of the genre in music that annoys me extremely, just as much as some ‘ common’ afrikaans music annoyed Linda and made her aggressive because she couldn’t explain it to us with words but was capable to do it through her body language.

we miss you very much Linda! And thank you very much for the Fig tree, Leon, Janette , Johan, Jana and Lynette.

 

 

Dementia or Witchcraft?

3 murders in 8 months in 2015 in the Kavango. 

2 of them , both in their 80’s, killed by their grandsons because they were so called wizards and bewitched them.
The third one ( 74) was killed by his neighbor because he bewitched the community according to the accused. I interviewed the community and according to them he had strange behaviors which are related to signs and symptoms of Dementia
The police at both police stations at Mushe and Divundu confirmed to me that murders like these are quite common in the Kavango
The last week or more I am daily troubled by what I have seen and heard and two questions in my mind is keeping me awake at nights:
Can signs and symptoms of dementia be the proof for families that some one among them is a witch/wizard and need to be killed when bad things happens with a family? 
Might it be that people in some communities are victims of one of the most dreadful diseases ( dementia) and simultaneously be a victim of mid evil superstition that still exist in Africa in the 21st century? 
Berrie Holtzhausen

LIFE STORY VERY IMPORTANT

When she saw me the first time , standing next to her bed, she suddenly got frightened and shouted for help…she called me ‘Master ‘and was really very very scared! I left the room and just hope she will calm down and sleep well!

After I left she calm down and when I phoned this morning Auguste told me that she had a good nights rest.

I phoned her daughter today and asked her about her mother’s life history. I said to her: I think your mother is scared of me ,because I am white! What she told me saddened me immensely.

My mother was as a young women a domestic worker in the Namakwaland. Her white masters sometimes took her with them on holiday to look after their children…she was transported , locked up in the boot of the car, to their holiday place. Sometimes never paid her and let her go hungry to bed!

Today she kept on calling me master in a way that saddens me very much! Once when she turned her face to the wall I softly touches her on her arm and said: I love you very much Auntie Marie!

Than she replied: Dankie oupa ( thank you grandfather)! She could hear me but didn’t see me.

I never will be able to replace the reality of apartheid she is living in , because it is and will always be her reality , but I hope I can help her to create ‘ good feelings ‘ about seeing a white man as some one who really care for her!

DEMENTIA IS AND WILL ALWAYS REVEALS THE SINS OF US AND OUR FATHERS! WE WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO CHANGE REALITIES OF THE PAST , BECAUSE I AM MY BRAIN….BUT WE CAN STILL CREATE QUALITY OF LIFE THROUGH LOVE!!