HIV and Aids in Songs

Good people,  courts have been closed for many weeks and it has been a while since many lawyers peeled off their  gowns.

Of particular interest is my friend Tadala Hastings Tembo whose activity on Facebook has been increasing since Judiciary support staff went on strike.

But the youthful lawyer has not been mischievous.

Rather, he is running a series, dubbed Aids in Songs,  in which he tackles burning issues often taken for granted.

The series takes his followers to the dark days the country experienced after the first Malawian was diagnosed with the virus in 1985.

Then, even government had no clue how to overcome the pandemic and the Ministry of Health made sure that the logo of the  National Aids Control Programme had a catapult,  arrows and other weapons that some of us grew up knowing as weapons of birds hunters of Chamama.

Tembo’s series takes us back to the  the era when the evergreen Lucius Banda dialled up the thinking that Malawians needed to pray as hard as did the Jews of the Bible every time they were afflicted by a pestilence.

“Koma ngati Aids ndi mulili bwanji sitikupemphera…Tisangoyang’ana mtundu wathu ukutha,” sang the bubbly musician as the nation gripped with unprecedented number of Aids-related deaths that forced government to buy minibuses for shuttling corpses and gave birth to coffin workshop on every street corner.

God-fearing Malawians must stand up to stop acts of faith healing which are unnecessarily endangering lives of people better treated by doctors.

The country has made great strides to reduce the impact of the pandemic.

As many faith-based organisations are waking up to take up in the national response to HIV and Aids, it is only proper that opinion leaders,  both religious and secular,  take part in encouraging their audiences to increase demand for life-saving services,  including testing,  counselling,  treatment and support groups.

What caught my eyes in Tembo’s Aids in Songs was his discourse analysis of Dan Lufani’s pioneer hit,  Shupi. Remember the boy who honed his skills in Lucius Banda’s hometown,  Balaka,  and surprised the nation  with the hit Shupi which catapulted him to fame.

On this song, Dan Lu of old warns men against a risky belief ‘sweet sadyera m’pepala’ or sex is sweeter without condoms as there are many Shupis yearning to infect them.

“Apparently, the belief is that sexual intercourse done using a condom is less pleasurable,” writes Tembo. “Dan Lu further rebukes Shupi,  a beautiful young lady on a mission to spread the virus.”

What we get from the song is that some people are deliberately spreading the virus, adds Akuchimuna.

The lawyer,  convinced that an HIV-free generation is possible and it begins with each one of us, implores his Facebook followers to  have “a human heart” and stay faithful when hormones are boiling.

Aids in Songs unravels not only the heroic role artists have played for decades to increase public understanding of Aids,  but also the power of music in shaping the way listeners perceive the public health issue.

But underneath Dan Lu’s apparent message dialling up condom use is a gender-insensitive stereotype that reduces women as money-hungry spreaders of HIV.

Women bear the brunt of numerous myths that purport that they are out to infect men.

That HIV and Aids still wears a face of a woman–loose and sex-happy–is a shocking example of how men do not seem to acknowledge their role in causing new infections.

Unfortunately,  undertones of things that celebrities of Dan Lu’s standing say go all the way to enforce these misconceptions among unsuspecting minds.

This is why all change agents should not leave artists when empowering influential voices to spread the message,  not myths and infections. n

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