Saturday, June 20, 2009

Traditional authority

Now, within a few days of Mark and I handing in our letter of resignation, a few things happened. I found it all a bit disturbing and scary, but it's all worked out fine. First there were rumours that the location would "strike" and protest in front of the hospital, complaining against the PMO. And then, on Friday last week, we received a letter, an invitation to meet with the traditional leaders, to explain our "unusual resignation".

I was really upset. I didn't know how many people were going to be there (would it be in front of the whole community? was there going to be anger, threats of violence? I know it sounds melodramatic, but there were stories, from a few years back, of the people of the community lifting a doc's car and preventing him from entering the hospital) Apart from that, there was the difficulty of explaining ourselves. It was a really hard decision to make, and some of the reasons were very much about personal relationships at work making work quite unpleasant, and clinical decisions we were struggling against. We had no intention of making that public.

Mark wrote a fantastic letter. I wish I could reproduce it, but he's away in Spain (at a wedding) with his computer. It was very honest, heartfelt as well as diplomatic. It acknowledged the difficult working relationships without blame, and without making them the main reason for our resignation. It was great.

I managed to get 10 copies made for the meeting, and that is about how many people were there. There was the chief of the #Aodaman tribe, the mayor of Khorixas and a bunch of councillors. What a room full of intelligent and locally powerfull people. And Namibia being so small, they probably can talk to the president easily enough (well, they implied that, and I believe them).

It lasted about 1 hour and was nominally conducted in Damara, through a translator (tho' the translator seemed really powerfull too, and seemed to run the meeting, with the traditional chief's ok). Having things translated was actually really helpfull, to sort of diffuse emotional content, and time to think about answers.

Suffice it to say, it went well. For which I am very gratefull.

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