The InDuna & witchdoctors of Bukalo (Part 5)

The InDuna & witchdoctors of Bukalo (Zambezi Region, Namibia)

Written by Berrie Holtzhausen, 21st August 2014

I personally learned the following from our four days in the Zambezi Region:

  1. Dementia in Namibia (probably Africa) is caused mainly by HIV AIDS.
  2. The perception of the world that dementia is only found among the elderly, is proven wrong in Namibia.
  3. Everything in life, from draughts, the loss of cattle through wildlife and even the reason why some people succeed in life and others don’t, are blamed on bewitching.
  4. There are two kinds of witchdoctors. A) The traditional healer that heals through natural medicine. B) One that bewitches other people and controls the environment/nature.
  5. Witches are dangerous. Four witchdoctors are needed to confirm that someone is a witch.
  6. Every family has a witch(es) as all families have diseases, death and tragedies. And as you can only bewitch a family as a witch, you are a witch. This makes it possible to identify a witch in two ways: a) Someone in the family that has dementia or b) Someone in the family that is more successful than the rest.
  7. Almost everyone that we spoke to, belonged to some church or other but they all still believed in bewitching.
  8. The idea of bewitching inside and outside the church are basically the same, it is only the terminology that differs.
  9. My idea that ‘the success of bewitching lies in the brain of the one that believes in it’ is becoming truer to me.

I do hope to gather more information on all of the above in the Kavango Region as well, as in Namibia, the Kavango and Ovahimba Regions are considered the most powerful bewitching areas.

ADN

 

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The InDuna & witchdoctors of Bukalo (Part 4)

The InDuna & witchdoctors of Bukalo (Zambezi Region, Namibia)

Written by Berrie Holtzhausen, 21st August 2014

Fortunately we did not leave the Zambezi Region without seeing the elderly. On the day we sat in on a court meeting, we learned from the InDuna, that the next day was pensioner’s day and that pensioners would come from all over to collect their monthly state pensions of N$600. At 8am the next morning, we were there, and from all over the elderly came walking, some from miles away, to come and collect their money. However, this didn’t work out as the money didn’t arrive and they had to return the next day. This made me extremely angry as this showed no respect for our elderly. What’s worse, most of these old people had to go back to their villages and hand over their money to their children. It isn’t lift that is unfair, it is people.

Even though the whole episode made me very angry, it did give us the opportunity to meet the elderly of the Zambezi Region. One of the first women we spoke to did not quite look sixty to me and when I started questioning us, she told us her mom was 97 and could not come herself. I questioned her about her mother but she was very shy and didn’t want to talk. I do have a feeling that this might be another Ndjinaa case, but time will teach us as I now know when and where to find the elderly.

A girl of about twelve arrived with her grandmother who told me that her grandmother talked incoherently, could not remember things and could not look after herself. The girl said her grandmother was bewitched. I spoke to another man, in his fifties, who sat next to his father. He confirmed that his father frustrated him as he spoke mostly nonsense and could not remember anything.

Unfortunately we did not have a lot of time as we had to return to Rundu, but the Ndjinaa ‘sticker’ served its purpose and I hope that our information will be discussed over many camp fires during the nights to come. We spoke to a lot of people who believed that the witchdoctors are there to make money from them. One even referred to the witchdoctors as conmen.

ADN

To be Continued…

The InDuna & witchdoctors of Bukalo (Part 3)

The InDuna & witchdoctors of Bukalo (Zambezi Region, Namibia)

Written by Berrie Holtzhausen, 21st August 2014

In the four days that we were there, we visited three villages, two churches, two schools and a traditional court where the InDuna listened to our story and our mission in the Zambezi Region. We spoke to about 150 people. The ‘sticker’ we have of photos of Ndjinaa was a huge help and both parents and children often gathered around my pick-up to talk to us and pepper us with questions. Most Caprivians (collective name of people living in the Zambezi Region) can speak English. With the help of the ‘sticker’ and applications on my phone, we could explain to them the effect of ‘bewitching’ on the human brain.

At one school we found 28 Grade 10 students preparing for their year-end examinations during the school holidays. This made it fairly easy for me to talk to them about Ndjinaa and dementia. They requested that I should come back the next day to show them the full slide show. Unfortunately they had no power in the classroom and I had to rely on my phone. However, Susanne was very happy, because this gave her the opportunity to hand out her question sheets that questioned the writer about his background, that of the family, the elderly in the family and about witchcraft. We distributed about 200 of these sheets and the info will be processed back in Germany.

At the one church that we visited, a woman asked for prayer. The next day we went to pick up Susanne’s question sheets from the pastor, we asked where the woman lived. He told us that her family reckons that she is either a witch or is bewitched. When we visited her in her little mud house, she told us that she was diagnosed with HIV AIDS, thus another HIV AIDS related dementia. She said her family isolated her because she was poor, but it was clear that it was because they thought she was bewitched. At the taxi rank another woman came to us. She too talked very incoherent and was seen as a witch by her family. After a while, she too told us, that she was HIV AIDS positive.

At the place where we stayed, we met an American who is busy with research on malaria in the area. He told us that the Zambezi Region has the highest HIV AIDS statistics in Namibia at 25%. All pregnant women get tested for it and about 38% of them test positive. In the time that we were in the region, we could not find someone with Dementia older than 55. Everyone was about 40 years old and had HIV AIDS.

During our evening discussions, I often told Susanne, that unlike in the rest of the world, in Africa, the number of dementia patients are far younger. They also don’t live with Alzheimer’s disease like 75% of the world’s dementia cases, but rather of HIV AIDS. I also have a suspicion that the double stigma of AIDS and bewitching are worsened by the rejection and isolation from the family. This makes ADN’s mission a bit more complicated and a huge challenge.

ADN

To be Continued…

The InDuna & witchdoctors of Bukalo (Part 2)

The InDuna & witchdoctors of Bukalo (Zambezi Region, Namibia)

Written by Berrie Holtzhausen, 21st August 2014

On our way to Love More’s village, he told us that his dad’s sister bewitched their family and in that way, acquired the whole village. According to him, his sister, Ofelia, is also mentally disturbed or bewitched. And so Love More and Ofelia were the first interviews we had in the Zambezi Region.

According to Love More this is the reason why he was attacked, so that he could not look after his family anymore. Ofelia has also worked at a supermarket in Katima Mulilo as a cashier until a few years ago. But she could not continue as she couldn’t count money anymore and made regular mistakes. This is one of the symptoms of dementia, but as Susanne pointed out, this is also signs of HIV. And as dementia is often caused by HIV AIDS, we tried to determine whether Ofelia has been tested for HIV but apparently, according to her and Love More, she tested negative. But she had two children from different fathers. When we enquired about them, we learned that the one was in Zambia and the other lived in a village close to the Bukolo filling station. Ofelia stated that he was also bewitched and Love More was very vague about this man’s whereabouts.

Obviously, we went to these villages next. Love More went with us, to help find the man. When we found him, he told us that he was three years old. He also continued to clap his hands like they would do to show respect to an elderly. We later found out, that years ago, he was diagnosed with HIV AIDS.

ADN

To be Continued…

The InDuna & witchdoctors of Bukalo

The InDuna & witchdoctors of Bukalo (Zambezi Region, Namibia)

Written by Berrie Holtzhausen, 21st August 2014

Friday afternoon, 15th August, we (Susanne and I) arrive in Katima Mulilo. On the banks of the Zambezi is a beautiful overnight stop that we choose to stay in. Unfortunately for us, NWR (Namibia Wildlife Resorts) are busy taking it over and the Prime Minister and his crew checked in just before us. We therefore have to move as the chalets available have no water. However, the ladies at reception is very helpful and when they hear what we do and why we are in the Zambezi Region, they advise and direct us to the offices of NBC (Namibian Broadcasting Corporation). This would help us with the search for people that are bewitched. We have to leave quickly as we are told that the Zambezi Region is on Central African Time and not on Namibian Time and so we have lost an hour.

At the offices of NBC, we find two vehicles parked in length across the pavement. I decide to follow suit, but the security guard is quick to tell me that I have to park sideways to give other people space as well. Not sure why, I decide to quickly do this, as not to waste any more time. Inside, we are quickly helped and I quickly scribble an announcement on paper. The whole process takes us at most 15 minutes. Outside, Susanne and I wonder how we will ever know if they will actually broadcast this as we don’t understand a word Lozi – one of the five languages spoken in the Zambezi Region.

From the offices to the car it took us about five minutes and then we immediately dialed into the local NBC station and were just in time to hear an announcement of which we understood nothing but my cellphone number. I started to drive immediately as Susanne got into trouble for trying to take a photo of the NBC offices?! My phone started ringing and the first calls came in. Two cut the line when they realized I am no Lozi-speaking-witch. Another one told me very clearly he didn’t want to speak to me.

After that first call from a woman in Windhoek who told us about her brother who desperately needed help, we didn’t have another quiet time again. The woman on the phone asked me whether I was a traditional healer (black African) or a psychologist (white African)? The next morning we met her brother, Love More, at the filling station in Bukalo. Love More had only one eye – the other he lost in January after being attacked in Windhoek.

On our way to Love More’s village, he told us that his dad’s sister bewitched their family and in that way, acquired the whole village. According to him, his sister, Ofelia, is also mentally disturbed or bewitched. And so Love More and Ofelia were the first interviews we had in the Zambezi Region.

To be continued…

ADN