KZN Literary Tourism Commemorates World Aids Day 2016 Print
Thursday, 01 December 2016 22:02

Today is World Aids Day. This is a day that provides an “opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died”.

In honour of World Aids Day, KZN Literary Tourism has assembled three extracts from authors of our archive. Pregs Govender is an outspoken activist against HIV who has helped bring the voices of women into the arena of HIV/AIDs discussions. Christa Biyela was a creator, writer and producer of ‘Sihlomulelana Ngolwazi’, an HIV/AIDS weekly show on Ukhozi FM. She has travelled throughout KwaZulu-Natal giving motivational talks on HIV/AIDS issues, primarily focusing on positive living. She has presented approximately 100 talks to private companies, governments departments, schools, correctional centres and rural communities. Her motivational talks are influenced by her life living with HIV for a period of 18 years. Trevor Kleinhans contracted HIV after his life became a downward spiral of addiction, debt and depression. He has since, like Biyela, turned his experiences into ways to motivate and educate other people.

 

From Pregs Govender's Love and Courage: A Story of Insubordination (2007:22):

At home one evening in June 2000, while breastfeeding Saien, I watched the coverage on TV of a march in Durban organised by TAC during the international Aids conference. Their poster was painted a vivid red, and contained a child's face imprinted with the words 'One Aids death every 10 minutes'. It was prophetic of the fate of Nkosi Johnson, a passionate Aids activist who addressed the conference and who soon afterwards died at the age of 12. While Nkosi was still speaking, President Mbeki left the conference. His departure at that moment was a sign of the blindness which would later lead him to say he did not know anyone who had died of Aids.

A month later Beryl Lockman, then 28 years old, died of Aids. She was the granddaughter of Walter Sisulu's sister Rosabella. The family had to decide whether to disclose that the cause of death was Aids. Walter himself, whose words, presence and actions embodied the best in the male leadership in the ANC, was an astute and humble man, and his marriage to Albertina was characterised by gentle, romantic caring. They chose their son Max to disclose publicly the true cause of Beryl's death. Max noted that this decision was taken at a family meeting at which everyone was present: a reflection of the family's commitment to fight HIV/Aids.

It was precisely this open and dignified acknowledgement of the reality of Aids that was needed in government's public pronouncements — and was so lacking.

 

From Christa Biyela’s Getting Dirty: Sex is Great, But let’s be Honest (2007):

I didn't want my son to live in fear. When he turned 10 years old, we began talking about sex. I had been living with HIV for four years. I knew that one day I would have to tell him about my HIV status, and at that time I wanted to know how much he knew.

We lay on my mother's bed and read a booklet produced by Love Life on how to talk to your kids about sex. I was reading, explaining and answering his questions. When we reached the page on how to put on a condom, he boldly said, 'Go past that Mum, I know how to put on a condom'. He was in Grade 4. I did as I was told. I refused to be shocked or angry. But I was disappointed. I was too late. Someone had already told him. I prayed that they hadn't shown him.

There are parents who believe sex education especially HIV/ AIDS should only be dealt with by teachers in school. They trust teachers who may also be struggling with these issues in their own personal lives. I am sure my mother believed the nuns would educate me about sex better than she could, just like some parents believe the same about our schools. But most parents forget that a teacher has thirty five to ninety children in class at a time. There is more opportunity for a child to be more attentive at home than at school. As children spend more time with friends, that's where they will receive their sex education. I find that out every time I visit schools.

 

From Trevor Kleinhans’s Secrets Make You Sick (2011):

It started to worry me that I had not confirmed the inevitable, so I made an appointment a week before Christmas to see Dr. Grunow. I walked into his consulting room at 11 a.m. on a Friday.

“Hi ,Trevor,” he greeted me.
“Hello, Dr. Grunow, how are you keeping?”
“Well, thanks. It’s taken you an awfully long time to come and hear your results. I’m not going to waste any time. I must tell you that it is not a death sentence any longer.”
I immediately knew that I was HIV positive; it was now confirmed. “Trevor, you are HIV positive,” he announced, confirming my  worst fears.
Tears started rolling down my cheeks and he passed me a tissue as I sat in front of him. What else could go wrong in my life? He could  have told me anything at all but I was hearing nothing at that time.