I took Ndjinaa there to see her new home. A Ndjinaa that was very different from the one I first met 16 months ago. She is still confused and struggles to talk coherently, but she is alive again.
My experiences over the last two weeks have confirmed to me that people with mental illnesses and brain diseases are not free – not because of their illnesses, but because of the superstitious beliefs that surround these illnesses. Beliefs and religions that create the perception that the brain is a “spiritual organ” for supernatural powers. These beliefs and ideologies seem to give people the right to discriminate against a person living with a mental illness or brain disease. Especially if that mental illness or brain disease only appeared later in the life of a said person.
Even with all my years’ experience in Kaokoland and the African bush, I am shocked. She is led out by hand and if I believed in the living dead, she would be it. She is a skeleton, a zombie that shows no sign of life. No words, no sign of recognition or feeling.
The saying here in Africa is not Cogito ergo sum, "I think, therefore I am", but rather “I am because of other people” and I tend to agree more with the latter than with René Descartes.
I cannot help but to ask myself whether this is a form of extreme depression of even dementia. Or is she traumatized? What caused her to stop living; to stop speaking?
According to Kapika, Ndjinaa has been called to guard or protect his life by carrying his soul inside her. She has therefor been bewitched so that she cannot harm her own life. He believes that if she dies, he will also die and if he dies first, so will she.