Tuesday, June 8, 2010


There has been an interesting cultural issue in my school lately so I thought I would try to share what I know.
Two weekends ago, I was talking with learners who first told me about a visit from a pastor at which four girls were apparently possessed. They were called up on stage, started behaving strangely, ranted, raved, spoke in tongues, and one attacked the pastor. When the pastor asked who sent them, one of the girls said that “Jane Doe had sent her to destroy his powers” (except Jane Doe is the name of my colleague, a fellow teacher at the school). You can imagine I was shocked, but given that these were kids, I decided to wait to see if anyone else said anything.
The following Monday, Jane Doe came up to me and asked to talk. She was incredibly upset and we spent an hour and a half after school with her telling me everything. Apparently, the version I had heard was 100% accurate. And parents were upset. This teacher had come to school and found salt along her windowsills and at the base of the door to her classroom (a supposed remedy against witch craft).
She also informed me of the struggle that she has had working at this school because of ethnic discrimination. She is the only non-damara (besides me) at the school. Several other teachers have been run off by certain members of the staff. Apparently the girl who said her name at the service was the daughter of one of the women who has been most difficult to her, and whether the mother put her up to it is still to be seen.

How to react to this is difficult. It’s not a situation I feel like I can be very culturally sensitive about (“this is ridiculous!” might escape) so I am trying to just be supportive and see what happens. Fortunately, the kids have been good about it. She spoke to two of the girls involved, and they claim to have been in a trance-like state (“everything was green where I was”) and have no memory of the incident. The kids know that she is not responsible, however, and have written letters of support and cards telling her how much they like her after seeing how upset she was. The teacher has gone to the town head man as well as her pastor, who are both going to try to address the problem.

Not a problem we would have to deal with at a school in the states! I will let you know what happens!

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