By Alex de Waal
Why, 20 years into the situation, are democratic governments appearing so poorly in tackling AIDS in Africa? De Waal argues that current methods are pushed by way of pursuits and frameworks that fail to interact with African societies' resilience and creativity. Already, African groups have confounded the various worst predictions of catastrophe. If accurately supported, they'll locate methods of maintaining improvement and democracy in the course of HIV/AIDS.
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Additional info for AIDS and Power: Why there is no Political Crisis - Yet (African Arguments)
What counts as ‘news’ is determined by a fairly small set of opinion formers, including government officials, international aid officials, scientists, doctors and activists. These stories – especially those of international provenance – get more space than scientific reports about risks of infection and possibilities for treatment. Most readers prefer to place their trust in doctors and people with professional credentials. The second step is for the newspapers to pick up these stories, particularly the two up-market English language dailies, the New Vision (government-owned but with a fair degree of editorial independence) and the Monitor (a private newspaper).
Africans are hungry for real news about AIDS and the debates swirling around it. People want to be kept informed about medical, epidemiological and scientific news, which they will then discuss and assess. Dealing with the personal, family and communal impacts is another important topic. High-quality news, analysis and opinion appear to be the best way of breaking down denial, weakening the grip of moral and cosmic metaphor, and promoting public commitment to tackling AIDS. How an informed citizenry then articulates and enforces its demands is a different question.
This phenomenon began and continues independently of AIDS – Africa’s most elaborate funerals are found in coastal West African countries where the epidemic has been less devastating – but AIDS has become totemic for this cosmological crisis. The Gwembe Tonga communities of rural Zambia have been studied by anthropologists for half a century. 39 As in Soweto, jealousies drive witchcraft allegations often among intimate kin. What, indeed, can a society do when threatened by an invisible enemy, which is destroying the life chances of an entire generation?
AIDS and Power: Why there is no Political Crisis - Yet (African Arguments) by Alex de Waal