For Your Daily Dose of MbA

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"Culture is the heritage of us all. some may be more interested than others in the treasures of the past, but no one can fail to take a pride in his country's participation in the story of mankind, as represented in carvings, sculpture, music, paintings and the other arts. And there is a personal commitment to this, for no man can really say he is alone: we are all joined through our identity, with the cultures which are part of the mainstream of life"
- Simon Kapwepwe, Zambian Independence Freedom Fighter

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill

"Try to be the rainbow in someone else's cloud" - Maya Angelou

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinion drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition" - Steve Jobs

Saturday, 4 December 2010

AIDS, Common Sense and Discrimination

I have been obsessed with the TED Website since a friend of mine suggested that I use it to learn when I complained of boredom.  I had viewed talks before but since finishing my masters I have been all educated out.  But learning while passively listening is addictive and now I can't stop.  I now watch a TED talk to accompany my lunch at work everyday.  I came across this talk by Elizabeth Pisani and now have a girl-crush on her.  She's so smart and witty and just cool!  Most of all she talks a lot of common sense, something that I think is lost on the world.  We do not trust ourselves to just go with our gut and what just makes sense even if you can't explain it with research, graphs, charts and formulae.  Part of life is just knowing and doing.  She is a little off-kilter so I warn you that you may be put off by the way she presents her thoughts. I quite enjoyed it, I love subversive humour and presentation but can fully appreciate how it may make some uncomfortable or could offend.

If you like her style, right now you can download her book for free here.  This offer is only good for the month of December.

Her talk got me thinking about the recent study that showed that partners of HIV+ people could protect themselves from contracting the disease if they followed a drug regimen consisting of an ART cocktail.  I am all about realistic, sensible prevention.  Let's be honest, humans are sexual beings and telling them to abstain is not the most sustainable and moreover commonsensical way of getting people to think about protecting themselves consistently.  Most people have a modicum of control at best.  I am not cynical or pessimistic, I've just lived enough in the world to know that the average person is quite illogical and careless and have little control when it comes to the bumptibump.  As you know I am a proponent of prophylactics and if you can get them to be part of the everyday routine of a person like taking a pill with their daily vitamins, I think that is great. Now we need to concentrate on halting the pandemic through transmission rather than just having it under control through treatment once positive. Both are required for success.

Speaking of the lack of the commonsensical, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga's recent speech only serves to push the gay minority further underground, further encouraging risky behaviour which will lead to this groups further marginalisation through the double-stigma borne from their lifestyle and if they contract HIV.  I am so disappointed in all the African nations, and in particular Uganda, that further are hampering Human Rights and AIDS progress by targeting the gay community with misinformation and fear tactics for political ends. Enough with the nonsensical!!! UNACCEPTABLE!

And the same goes for women.  We are just depicted as a helpless high risk group and really, not enough is being done to get to the root of the problem.  Yes our biology means that we are more likely to contract the disease  and there is nothing we can do to alter the way we have been designed, but there are social factors than be dealt with.  The typical  African story of girl raped by an uncle, grandfather or family friend to cure himself  of HIV/AIDS is something that should not be allowed to happen. UNACCEPTABLE!  Women to afraid to have candid conversations with their husbands about cheating and condoms is still rife in African society. UNACCEPTABLE! Educating people about how they contract it and what can be done to prevent or manage the disease is still something that needs to be done better.  And the issue of gender-based violence in Africa is something that needs to be dealt with.  I am ashamed that Zambia is one of the countries where men are really foolish about why they abuse their spouses, defending themselves with reasons to do with expressing love.  UNACCEPTABLE!

However, I am very happy that I received a text from my Zambian mobile service provider that read:

 "Guard against gender based violence vices and where such vices occur please do not hesitate to report to the appropriate authorities."

This pleasant surprise makes me happy as it shows how mobile technology can be used to educate the masses on the African continent.  And it is a great example of corporate social responsibility.  So easy to do and the social effects can be huge if the message is received on a regular basis.  I know a lot of people have been talking about mobile marketing and this puts people off.  I don't want to receive a text from sleazy marketer but getting a text about my well-being with no agenda is a welcome use of an opportunity to speak to a large group at little cost. I think this kind of community outreach in Zambia has been spurred by recent efforts from Government to make concrete change through a bill that is ready to be presented to Parliament. I hope that they will not lose momentum as happens with a lot of these efforts.  It made me think of Ms. Afropolitan's post and how I had no idea that there was a day for Gender-based Violence and how it just slipped by.  Some of these issues need to be tied together and maybe there should be a week that tackles all these interlinked diseases and human rights abuses rather than having them scattered about the year with some getting more attention that others.

BTW, if you happen to be in New York, the Access to Life Exhibit is currently showing at the UN Headquarters until the 17th of December.


  1. Hey MBA

    How I love that text that you had received in Zambia, now that's progressive!

    Thanks for the kind mention! I should have stated in that post the the day for Gender based violence actually kicks off 16days of activism around the world so it gets a lot of time and many campaigns if you google.

    The issues you raise concerning HIV are so important and enlightening and must check the TED talk, although i've banned myself off their site as hours pass by next thing i know

    Keep well!

  2. I know TED is the devil! But at least you are learning so its not as bad as some of these useless sites that people get sucked into :).

    Most people don't google for things they don't know about, they google for things to reinforce what they already know. So without visibility the masses will not get the message no matter how many campaigns are going on because people aren't listening coz they don't know where to go to listen.

    The problem with activism is that its messages appeals to activists. Those aren't the people who need to be educated. I feel a post coming on and I am so behind on all the posts I want to write...