Apr 27, 2007

Dealing with HIV/AIDS-related stigma

Stigma and metaphors built around HIV/AIDS have drawn academic and public interest. Particularly interesting is that the severity of the AIDS pandemic has transformed our lives profoundly, and that stigma experienced by persons living with the disease has grave consequences for public health efforts. Stigma constitutes prejudice, discrimination, categorisation, differentiation, and stereotyping. The phobia and metaphorical references attached to HIV/AIDS marshal fear, isolation and shame. Powerful metaphors have been mobilised around HIV/AIDS to reinforce stigmatisation. The word plague, for example,(derived from the Latin form plaga for collective calamity) is the principal metaphor by which the epidemic has come to be known in modern society. This conception of the disease contributes to the resonance of the inexorability and inescapability of HIV-infection. It also produces laxity on individual protection. Such thinking has been fostered by some religious leaders who have come to see the presence of HIV/AIDS as a fulfilment of apocalyptic prophecy. A sign for the end of time and a general punishment for immorality! The conception of suffering from HIV/AIDS as a consequence of immorality leads to the view of the epidemic as a disease of others and thus leads to the rejection and discrimination of those suffering from it. Getting the HI-virus is regarded as a wilful act that deserves punishment.

Another conjecture that has often come with HIV-related stigma is the popular discourse which equates testing HIV-positive to having AIDS yet testing positive points to the presence not of the HI-virus per se but of the antibodies to the virus. Nonetheless, this perception is so strong that once a person is diagnosed HIV-positive, people often see the person as “already dead!” While death may be inevitable for a person living with HIV/AIDS, it is often quickened by the landscape of “social terror” that produces anxiety and stress for sufferers. Metaphors kill because they make people to be irrationally fearful of even effective measures and foster credence in virtually useless remedies such as sleeping with virgins as a cure for HIV/AIDS as some reports say in South Africa. In light of the above, I want to argue that the mystifications and metaphoric trappings that have been built around HIV/AIDS have produced a profound impact on social and moral responses to the epidemic. It is, therefore, important for public health practitioners to deal with stigma because it is one of the greatest barriers to HIV/AIDS disclosure.

What is in a name?

I was quite taken by the debate on Asikhulume, a television programme on SABC 1 hosted by Xolani Gwala every Sundays, yesterday. The topic on discussion at this particular moment was the renaming of Luis Trichard, a city in the Limpopo Province, to Makhado. The AFriforum, an organisation that champions Afrikaners’ interests, culture and politics, objects to the project of renaming Luis Trichard to Makhado on the basis that there was no extensive consultation by the South African Geographical Council before which name-change was effected. According to this forum, the Afrikaner community which had crafted the name Luis Trichard is at loss here because name change constitutes a disregard of its contribution to the reshaping of modern South Africa. To it, a change of the city’s name is not only an affront to Afrikaner’s dignity but involves a terrible worst of public finances that could be otherwise expended in other meaningful projects such as housing for low-income earners. A variant argument to this was that the name Luis Trichard had racial and apartheid connotations hence it did not capture the whole spirit of democratic transition and reconciliation. So, those names that seem to represent a residual of apartheid should be done away with in favour of all-inclusive and progressive names.

There are a number of competing theories for or against geographical name changes in South Africa. I do not want to delve into the depth of these positions at this point. The argument is that this debate inspires me to look at myself and ask the question: How different would I be if I were not called Mbuso? Crafted differently, the question could be: What is it that identifies me as Mbuso?

In light of the above, it cannot be disputed that there is a lot in a name. A name carries culture; it carries pride, and national consciousness. Conventional social thinking posits that people’s names tend to constitute a true epitome of their personalities and abilities. Thus one who is called “Diligent” would always execute his obligations diligently! A name, in other words, is an embodiment of one’s skills, values and principles with which he identifies himself/herself. Interestingly, skills, for example, are not the creation of a particular name that one is given at birth. Skills are acquired over time. Thus, I am able to define myself as a skilled social science researcher, report writer, a team player, a developmentalist, and a self-driven person because I acquired some of these skills through rigorous academic training, and from the World of Work Internship Programme that I am currently attending at Wits University. As such, one can easily say that Mbuso has particular abilities that employers are looking for. It is these abilities that I need to supply to prospective employers. This does not end here, however. After securing employment, I must prove to my employers that I am worth my name!

What is your purpose in life?

Our life has become so routine so much that our minds have become conditioned to doing things almost in an automatic manner. For example, one does not need to work up in the morning and study a health manual in order to decide on what will be best to eat in that morning. We almost converge on the same habit of eating bread, butter, and cakes as our breakfast. Beyond this routine, who has ever asked himself/herself what his or her purpose in life is? Listening to Anton Gollub’s presentation on the Johannesburg Housing Company on Friday last week made me to think afresh as to what my purpose in life is. Interestingly, I discovered from Anton that what I had always considered as my purpose in life in fact constituted my goals and objectives! My opinion is that everyone in life must make someone else’s life more bearable. One must strive to fit into the greater scheme of existence. Rather than search for food, eat, sleep and go to the private house!, we must try to make sure that our lives make a positive impact on our fellow men, communities, and the globe at large. Many people are not alive, they just exist. They buy best cars; good houses, and marry the most beautiful women but remain as unsatisfied as before. Yet those people who started orphanages, for example, and are less materially rich, are the happiest people because they are fulfilling their purpose in life (that is, that of salvaging the fatherless and motherless). Let me take the example of teaching. Teaching is not a great profession, one may say, but there are some people who have been teaching for twenty years, and given a second life, they would teach for another twenty years because teaching gives them a chance to impact on other people’s lives forever. It is therefore important to make sure that all that we do in life impacts on other people’s lives in a positive way. My purpose in life is to commit my expertise to the health and economic development of African states. Hence I have termed my blog "The Developmentalist." I cannot express this better than Dr Azar Jamine when he said that “Business needs to wake up to the fact that just making money is an empty goal without contributing to the betterment of life of your fellow human beings.”

Inequalities and HIV/AIDS in South Africa

Socio-economic inequalities produce different outcomes of HIV/AIDS infection in South Africa’s demographic groups-Africans, Whites, Coloured and Indians, with Africans being the most infected and Whites being the least infected. This disproportionate distribution of HIV prevalence rates reflects on the cleavages and inequalities born of disparities in wealth distribution and education levels, among other things. Most Whites, for example, have high socio-economic status as compared to most Africans hence they are more likely to be less vulnerable to HIV than the latter. Thus, such views that the HI-virus is not a virus of equal opportunity underscore the notion of differential vulnerability to the HIV/AIDS epidemic as produced by socio-economic inequalities. Basically, HIV infection is conditioned by people’s behaviour but this behaviour is a function of, and is profoundly influenced by individuals’ socio-economic positions. It is in these contexts in which are found aspects of material deprivation versus material satisfaction, possession of power versus powerlessness, and working conditions all of which impact on people’s freedom of choice about lifestyle, and all of which may induce vulnerability or invulnerability to HIV infection. Material deprivation for example, negates the poor’s health and renders them powerless against HIV. So, the presence of HIV/AIDS is not simply the emergence of a new virus but an issue of social and structural changes creating conditions of vulnerability, conditions that open spaces for the virus to gain entry. Inequalities open such spaces.

Music

Music is one of the most fascinating endowments ever bestowed to humankind. Like the manner of the circulation of blood, it is one of the most intricately embedded aspects of the physiological (spiritual), social, and emotional well-being ever nurtured and cherished throughout the whole dispensation of human society. Music has evolved in various manner and perception, culminating in itself becoming one of the most glamorous and rewarding occupations on the globe. It can be rightfully classified as a gift eternal.

Music is a methodical combination of instrumental and vocal sounds. Music is a genre. Music has power. It has power to change, and power to herald change. Music appeals to the sub-conscious part of the mind and causes it to send impulses to the muscles. Thus, when people sing, or when you listen to music, you find yourself nodding to the rhythm of the song without thinking. The goodness of music is not felt with the tongue; it is felt through the skin!
During the struggle for freedom in South Africa, the oppressed sung the “Nkosi Sikelela i-Afrika” (Nguni for "God bless Africa"). With this song, they expressed a desire for freedom and the restoration of African dignity. Indeed, music is good for those in struggle because it energises them; it restores their hope and gives purpose to their endeavours. In Zimbabwe, every morning at five o’clock, the national radio station, Zimbabwe FM, sings the national anthem-“Phakamisani ifulegi yeZimbabwe” (Zulu for “lift ye the Zimbabwean flag”). In this song are contained the aspirations of our nation, its history, its geographical endowments and the general national consciousness. We used to sing songs of celebration during our childhood. When the rains poured in early November, we would dash to the open of our homestead and shout to the skies: “Zulu, zulu nana sidl’ amabhece” (Come you rain so that we eat the gourds”. This was a song of celebration for the coming of the rain season.
Music is powerful. My grandmother once told me that when she sings in church, she feels the Holy Spirit moving about! She feels uplifted. She feels blessed! During the time I was a baby, my mother sung lullabies to quieten me to a deep sleep. She would sing: “Su su, thula sana thula” (Quieten child quieten!”). This was a song to stop me from crying. Those crying need a song to quieten, those in victory need a song to celebrate championship; those in anguish need a song to see hope in bereavement, and those in love need a song to tighten their bond of love. Even the angels sing holy, holy in praise of the Almighty up in heaven! The World of Work Internship programme has been hectic this week, hence you need a song to relax yourself. What song do you have today? Is it a song of sorrow, celebration, love and revolution? You all have songs to sing. Music is good. Let’s sing along!

Apr 26, 2007

Poverty: A global problem

Millions of people across the globe are engaged in a daily struggle against poverty. While some people see work as a way out of poverty traps, some see entrepreneurship as the principal arsenal with which to fight poverty traps. The latter are those who see work as an unsatisfactory response to deprivation. Simple work, they argue, does not allow room to unlocking one’s entrepreneurial abilities. The poor should be encouraged to do for themselves rather than wait for their governments to give them food stipends. The question is, how possible is it for nation-states, which have become part of the global web, to combine national resources in a bid to combat material poverty in this globalised world?

Apr 19, 2007

Today

Each day has its own happenstances. So is this day. This day is unique in its own right. It was misty in the morning. The mist decreased visibility so much that drivers had difficulties negotiating their courses past each other on the roads. In Central Johannesburg, cars and buildings looked silhouetted in the mist like a ghost that hangs eerily in the morning air. People looked like moving-disfigured, and limbless torsos. You could hardly see hundred metres away. The accident at the Main Street, in which two taxies collided, must have been caused by this reduced visibility. I did not see any casualties. I pray there were not any. Surely, we need to look before we leap but today there is mist in the air. So we need to look and look before we leap and look again! This is a different day. It needs more looking. As we shall be going to Newtown, are we going to look, listen and learn?

Music

Music is a methodical combination of instrumental and vocal sounds. Music is a genre. Music has power. It has power to change, and power to herald change. Music appeals to the sub-conscious part of the mind and causes it to send impulses to the muscles. Thus, when people sing, or when you listen to music, you find yourself nodding to the rhythm of the song without thinking. The goodness of music is not felt with the tongue; it is felt through the skin!
During the struggle for freedom in South Africa, the oppressed sung the “Nkosi Sikelela i-Afrika” (Nguni for “God bless Africa”). With this song, they expressed a desire for freedom and the restoration of African dignity. Indeed, music is good for those in struggle because it energises them; it restores their hope and gives purpose to their endeavours. In Zimbabwe, every morning at five o’clock, the national radio station, Zimbabwe FM, sings the national anthem-“Phakamisani ifulegi yeZimbabwe” (Zulu for “lift ye the Zimbabwean flag”). In this song are contained the aspirations of our nation, its history, its geographical endowments and the general national consciousness. We used to sing songs of celebration during our childhood. When the rains poured in early November, we would dash to the open of our homestead and shout to the skies: “Zulu, zulu nana sidl’ amabhece” (Come ye rain so that we eat the gourds”). This was a song of celebration for the coming of the rain season.
Music is powerful. My grandmother once told me that when she sings in church, she feels the Holy Spirit moving about! She feels uplifted. She feels blessed! During the time I was a baby, my mother sung lullabies to quieten me to a deep sleep. She would sing: “Su su, thula sana thula” (Quieten child quieten!”). This was a song to stop me from crying. Those crying need a song to quieten, those in victory need a song to celebrate victory; those in anguish need a song to see hope in bereavement, and those in love need a song to tighten their bond of love. Even the angels sing holy, holy in praise of the Almighty up in heaven! What song do you have this morning? Is it a song of sorrow, celebration, love and revolution? You all have songs to sing. Music is good. Let’s sing along!

To the beloved intern

It is not the dark night that matters but the light that will come with the day after it. It is not the thick books that you read during your studies that matters but the degree that you have today. It is not the degree that matters but what you will do with the degree. It is not what you will do with the degree that matters but how you will do it. It is not how you will do it with the degree that matters but when you will do it with the degree. It is not how you plough that matters but the harvest that shall come out of the sowing. It is not how the seed looks like that matters but the flowers that will come out of the seed. Dear intern, get ready to move. Do not veer off the course of success. Remember: Good better best never let it rest until the good is better and the better best. Jack was never first but he always tried his best until he became first!

Apr 13, 2007

My CV

MY CURRICULUM VITAE

Personal details
Full Name: Mbuso Moyo
Phone: 079 366 8699
E-mail: mbizo2003@yahoo.com

Career objectives
My career objective is to make strategic contributions in delivering development objectives in the areas of economics and HIV/AIDS. I aspire to become a Development Research Officer/Consultant specializing in corporate social investment and environmental sustainability.

Education
University of the Witwatersrand, (Johannesburg, South Africa), 2005-2007.
University of Zimbabwe, (Harare, Zimbabwe), 2000-2003
Mzilikazi High School, (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe), 1998-1999.
Majiji Day High school, (Bubi, Zimbabwe), 1993-1997
Majiji Primary School, (Bubi, Zimbabwe), 1986-1992

Work experience
The Edge Institute
Position: Research assistant
Duration: 01 June 2006- 30 June 2006

Skills acquired
I gained excellent verbal and writing communication skills
Collecting and capturing information on foreign direct investment (FDI) using Microsoft excel

Inyathi High School
Position: ‘A’ Level History and Ndebele/Zulu teacher
Head of the Humanities Department
Duration: September 2003-April 2004

Skills acquired
Assessing and appraising colleagues in the teaching of history and geography.
Chairing meetings in the department.
Purchasing prescribed textbooks for the department.
Suggesting and managing the implementation of appropriate teaching methods to improve passes in the department.
Responsible for HIV/AIDS education in the school.

Other skills
Microsoft windows based programmes (word and power point, excel)
Flexible and able to respond quickly to problems as they may occur
Providing excellent written material or reports under tight deadlines
Good presentation skills
Developing research proposals, including literature reviews and constructing appropriate research instruments, having learned this specifically through my graduate studies at the university of the Witwatersrand

Interests
Reading and writing novels, socializing, researching, listening to classic and gospel music, singing & reading business news.

Referees
1. Dr. Noor Nieftagodien Tel: +27-11-717-4284
Private Bag 3, Wits Fax: + 27-11-717-4336
History Department
2050, Braamfontein
Johannesburg
South Africa
E-mail: nieftagodienn@social.wits.ac.za

2. Prof. Stephen Gelb Tel: +27-11-339-1757/ (+2711 or +2782 outside SA)
Private bag 3, Wits Fax: +27-11-403 2794
School of Economics and Business Studies
2050, Braamfontein
Johannesburg
South Africa
E-mail: sgelb@the-edge.org.za

Ideologies and Theories

Ideology and Theories.
Does ideology really matter? Why not look at the society as it is, that is, as a group of people inhabiting a specific geographic area instead of burdening ourselves with confusing “isms”: “social-ism”, “Marx-ism”, “modern-ism”, “post-modern-ism", to name but a few. Would it really make a difference if I were to write about class antagonisms without making reference to Karl Marx’s class theory? If workers and their employers are in disagreement on wages, how worth is it to understand the differences in opinion therein in terms of Marxist thinking? Why not just state that “There is a dispute between employees and employers over wages”, finish and klaar! I tutored first years in sociology at Wits University and one thing I realised is that the moment I expressed an idea in which there was what I will call an “ismized” term, the students, almost in a chorus, said: “We do not understand!” What emerges from this example is that ideologies, which are usually expressed in technical and difficult-to-pronounce terms, leave most people more confused about particular phenomena than before they read them. So why ideology? I must confess that I am one person who was strongly married to ideology until I was made to realise that “isms” have a tendency to blur one’s positions in writing if not properly handled. To me to use a theory was an expression of an excellent form of academic pedigree-academic smartness indeed! But it got to dawn to me that ideologies would always be a serious disservice if they are used without a clear understanding of their fundamental implications. It was at high school, the first point at which I was introduced to theories, (Joseph Schumpeter’s theory of imperialism for example), and also the first point at which I was dissuaded from using the same ideologies in essay-writing. My history teacher would always say: “Don’t be verbose Mbuso!” From then, I developed a sense that those who use technical terms such as “existentialism” suffer from inability to state the simple as simple. “People are fighting, can you see that?” “Yes they are fighting.” Simply that!

The word “verbose” is a big scary word. I made some serious thinking on the real meaning of the word itself. After some time, I came to a realisation that the words verbose and existentialism were simply two big, and high sounding words for very simple ideas.

But can we really dismiss ideology as absurdity consummate? If you walk into a class and teach Marxism and feminism, you are not saying something new. You are just stating the same thing in a paraphrased way. Isn’t that so?

People really live ideology but they do not want to hear about it. Ideology is best-lived than trying to write and bind it in a book. It is a creature that resides somewhere in the netherworld.
Someone simply took a simple idea and stamped his name on to it and called it Marxism. Don’t we all believe that people should be equal; don’t we all think that workers should not be exploited; and don’t we all think that there should be equal distribution of economic resources to achieve social justice? If we do, so what is new about Marxism that we did not know?
Alas! All we do in the world as we know it today is not by accident. Someone thought of how the world should look like-hence the nation state; someone thought that an educated person must be the one who spent a considerable number of years mastering theories, etc. So this world as we see it, is a product of ideology. So, does ideology matter? Well, if you do not think about it it doesn’t but if you think about it, it does.
Mbuso Moyo