Monday, December 12, 2005

Going home in a casket!

I remember being out for a few drinks one evening with a couple of my Batswana friends. As we chatted over a few beers a commotion broke out nearby. I asked the guys what the fuss was all about. They translated for me....

A few Batswana were teasing their Zambian colleague that he would return to Zed in a box like all of his brothers (Zambian compatriots rather than biological brothers.) They poked fun at him saying that he would certainly not leave Botswana alive because he wouldn't be able to resist the beauty and charms of the local women. I have no idea what happened to the Zambian guy but I know that in thier cruelty the Batswana were not exaggerating too much!

Even more tragic is the fact that many men who are forced to work outside of their own countries and end up in Botswana (South Africa or any other copmparatively rich neighbour) end up infecting their wives with HIV. These men take chances with their own lives by indulging in one night stands or uncommitted sexual relationships but they also pass on the virus to their wives as well as their young or unborn children.

In such circumstances the man will often die first. Ironically he will often die in his own home after months of nursing from his faithful and loving wife. Soon after the widow will fall sick and be nursed by her eldest child (more often than not her eldest daughter - who will drop out of school to support the family.) The cycle of sickness and poverty continues as the eldest child raises her siblings. These children may be fortunate and be cared for by an Aunt or Grandmother but all to often there is no one for them. Or worse they may end up stigmatised and discriminated against due to the fact that their parents died from Aids related illnesses.

The guys who were joking about the Zambian going home in a box might not have laughed so much had they thought about the grief and suffering that HIV/AIDS causes!

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