The Story of Chief Petrus
At the end of our research trip (2014 Review – Part 4) we stopped at Okahandja’s Craft market so that Susanne could buy a few souvenirs.
As Susanne ‘shopped’ I told the owner of the stall, Black Jack, who we were and what we did. He immediately said that this sounds like this sounds all too familiar. He called Chief Petrus, who opened these stalls 35 years ago. As we talked to Chief Petrus, I noticed that his right hand made uncontrolled movements and that he licked his lips as he spoke. Unfortunately we could not talk for long as we had to get to Windhoek in time for Susanne’s flight back home.
A few months later I had to meet Michaela Fink from the University in Giessen, in Windhoek. On my return home I stopped in Okahandja and went looking for Black Jack. Having found Black Jack, he introduced me to the Chief’s son, Izak. Izak showed me the Chief’s green card. Here in Namibia a green card is not your ticket to the United States. It is a ‘file’ on which all state hospitals and doctors record prescription medicine etc. Every state patient thus has a green card.
It was no surprise to find that since 2005, Chief Petrus has been on Hadol (Haloperidol). This is the most common drug that the doctors throughout Namibia prescribe to any patient that has the slightest brain dysfunction. To me, this means that Chief Petrus has been chained in chemical chains for nine years! Nine years in which his quality of life has been stolen while people get rich from selling these horrible drugs. Let me explain myself.
Chief Petrus was (and possibly still is) an incredible sculptor. He not only created jobs for thousands by starting the Okahandja Arts & Craft Market, he also sculpted three life size rhinoceroses. One is in Germany, the second at a lodge close to Kimberly (South Africa) and another at Molopo Lodge close to Upington (South Africa).
He was on the brink of receiving a government loan to start-up a massive workshop in Okahandja when a mysterious disease took hold of him. Since then Namibia’s state doctors has been keeping him on a strict diet of Hadol without ever referring him to a specialist. And so this has continued for nine years…
Chief Petrus’s right hand shakes so badly that he can hardly work. He is still the Chief, but his dreams and many that he has helped, was destroyed in 2005 with the first prescription of Hadol and irresponsible practise of medicine. People that are seen as poor and useless, they have no right to proper medical attention. I can never really know what Chief Petrus has meant to so many people and what he still means, but I am about to fight for every bit of right he has.