Tag Archive: HIV

I found this book in at airport Exclusive Books – my favourite place to buy books. I bought it because I liked the idea of reading some African chick-lit. I am not a fan of chick-lit but was interested to see how traditional African chick-lit might differ from Western chick-lit.

The starting point of the story was pretty uniquely African – it is the story of the four wives of a Zimbabwean man, Jonasi, told by each of the women. I know Africans are not the only polygamist people, but I’m mostly sure it is the only place where it is legal.

Set in Zimbabwe this is a story of wealth and indulgence I would not have associated with that country. And that in itself made it interesting. We have all forgotten that Zimbabwe was once a rich, flourishing country. By the end of the story both Zimbabwe and Jonasi have become destroyed by bad decisions, over indulgence and HIV.

I am not sure if this book really is just a silly bit of chick-lit or if a parallel could be drawn between the life of Jonasi and that of Zimbabwe itself. The uncertainty is largely because the book is not very well written. It is very chatty in style and that works for the surface story, but it does mean that if there is any deeper stuff going on, it is hard to see.

The book was also an opportunity to look at the viability of this kind of sexually open relationship in a time of HIV and Aids, but does not manage to engage in any serious comment, again because of the poor writing.

Nyathi has some terrible writing tics which should have been edited out. No one wants to read a paragraph with ‘literally’ or ‘I tell you’ three or four times. It is lazy writing and lazy editing. The same sense of chatting to your friends over a coffee could have been achieved using better writing.

I have seen reviews in which Nyathi’s writing style has been described as sassy and sexy. I must disagree. Sexy and sassy do not mean badly constructed and repetitive. The book is also unnecessarily, and sometimes erroneously, wordy. This is true of many new African writers I have found and I do understand why it happens, but editors should be pruning things a little. The editor of this book did Nyathi a disservice.

That being said it is still very readable and not particularly challenging, an easy dip into the lives of these five people that is immediately forgettable.

I will read another Zimbabwean book because I don’t think it fair that this book be a whole country’s contribution to this collection.

people who get on my wick

Here is my list of things that piss me off on today of all days – world aids day

1. The beetroot brigade

Now, we all know that eating well is good for you, all round. If you are sick, with anything, and eat well, you will get better faster. If you eat poorly, disease lurks and punishes your body big time. However, eating well does not cure diseases, least of all ones caused by viruses. HIV + people who eat well do have a better prognosis, but they are still HIV +.


2. The pharmaceutical bashers

These are often also members of the beetroot brigade. Of course the drug companies are making money from the ARV drugs they make. They are businesses who make money out of drugs production and sales. It’s called economics! To suggest that these companies created the HI – virus and are now selling unnecessary medicines to treat the disease is ridiculous. If they were going to, do you not think that maybe they would have made the epicentre of the disease fat rich American and not poverty struck Africa? Again – it’s economics!


3. The judges

These are usually middle class white people who get exasperated by having to replace their maid and/or gardener much too often than is convenient because they keep dying. ‘Don’t these people know about condoms?’ is their war cry. For many people, women mostly, in this country, sexual equality and any sexual power whatsoever are as alien a concept as compassion is to many of the judges. These women do not choose to have unprotected sex, or, often, any sex at all. They have no negotiating power when it comes to this aspect of their lives. That is the privilege of the middle classes!


4. The unaware

It is from this group that the questions are raised about why kids begging are not at school. ‘After all, it is 15 years since the birth of our new land and all kids have the same opportunities.’ Yeah right! The 12 year old AIDS orphans who are working the streets, begging and hooking, to feed their younger siblings have exactly the same opportunities as the rich kids off to their schools in air conditioned 4x4s.


5. The preachers of abstinence.

In an ideal world we would all rock up at our weddings pure and virginal and ride into the sunset with our soul mate. Only we are an infinity from that world. So saying that if the teenagers and young people didn’t have sex they would be safe and therefore it is a personal decision they make, and therefore infection is just deserts, is just beyond archaic. No condoms to school kids does not stop them from having sex – it just stops them from being safe. No condoms to prisoners does not stop them having sex – it just stops them from being safe. No condoms to underage girls does not stop them from having sex – it just stops them from being safe.


6. The punishment advocates

Anyone who has a god that they truly believes punishes people for sexual activity or drug use by giving them aids deserves an eternity with that god. What we all need to do to get this disease under control is to stop judging.

We need to admit that the sexual aspect of the transmission of this disease makes us uncomfortable, and get the hell over it.

570 000 people died last year in South Africa from AIDS related disease! More than half a million people! Our people, the people of our land!