Monday, December 20, 2010

Day of Reconciliation

This is a post by Relax Max. Thank you for letting me use it.

December 16 is a public holiday in South Africa.

The Day of Reconciliation holiday came about in 1994 following the end of apartheid, and is intended to foster a spirt of reconciliation and national unity.

However, the date chosen comes from a much earlier event.

On December 16, in 1838, was fought the Battle of Blood River. On the bank of the Ncome River on that date, king Dingane, with an army of close to 15,000 men, attacked 470 Voortrekkers. The Voortrekkers, under the command of Andries Pretorius, of course had provoked the attack, though they hadn't counted on quite that large of an opposing army.

The Zulus attacked the Voortrekkers in waves, with only spears for weapons. The Dutch soldiers had muskets and cannon. By the end of the day, the river by the hippo pool had actually changed color.

In the ignoble (some say) carnage on that killing field, over 3000 Zulu warriors were slaughtered. The Trekkers had 3 slightly wounded, including Pretorius himself.

The Zulus lived to fight another day, and with much greater success.

Read more about the Battle of Blood River, its causes and its aftermath here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Gave Him HIV; He Asked For It

She sits with her stomach protruding proudly, stretching the worn material of her tube top. One of her eyes is crinkled in a smoker’s squint, a cigarette dangling from her lips.

“I didn’t really want another baby, but it happened!” she laughs raucously. I wonder if she has also been drinking.

“I didn’t find out till it was too late because of the drugs I take, they mess up your period and make you fat you know?”

“Drugs?” I ask, unable to conceal my shock. She’s smoking, taking drugs and possibly drinking while she was pregnant?

She laughs her outrageous laugh again and explains, “ARVs sisi. I’ve been on them for a year now.”

“So your boyfriend knows you’re HIV-positive? Is he also positive?”

“Well NOW he is. I don’t know about before but when I told him I was positive he said he was a real man, refused to use a condom.”

I look stupefied.

“Don’t look so shocked, so many men think you’re joking here if you are straight with them and tell them you’re positive. I’m not going to stop having sex just because they’re stupid.”

She is serious. She belongs to a group of friends who make no bones about being HIV-positive. They say; “It’s just like diabetes or cancer; you just have to take care of yourself.” I applaud them this mentality, in a world where many people still view being diagnosed HIV-positive is a “death sentence” they are amazingly forward-thinking.

All of them have been aware of their positive status for over five years. All of them are on the state ART (anti-retroviral treatment) programme. All of them are alcoholics. All of them have transitional sex.

They claim they tell their prey that they have HIV. They claim most of the men they sleep with refuse to wear condoms stating various reasons including;
-          Real men don’t wear condoms
-          Doesn’t she trust him?
-          Doesn’t the woman trust herself?
-          You’re just saying you’re positive because you want you avoid pregnancy, I’ll ejaculate “outside”.
-          I don’t enjoy it with a condom.
-          I’m too big for a condom.
-          I have HIV too so what does it matter?
-          I’m allergic to the lubricant on government condoms.
-          I can’t “feel” you when I wear a condom.

As these women talk to me, laughing all the while at my stupefied facial expressions, they almost convince me that the men who get infected by these women deserve their just desserts for their stupidity. I ask why don’t the women protect themselves from re-infection?

*explosions of mocking laughter*

Am I serious? If they tried to protect themselves by wearing female condoms (assuming they manage to find some as they claim female condoms are almost the Holy Grail) then the men would stop sleeping with them. Then they would have no alcohol, no places to sleep, no food, no sex no fun. The cycle is vicious. I cannot bear to listen to any more.

“The good thing about the father of this baby is that he is a TEACHER! So he’s rich!” the lively pregnant one laughs gleefully and lights up.

Grabbing the packet (mine) from which she has been pilfering day I make a beeline for a place where such madness is not so normal.