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Love in the Times of AIDS
Book title: LOVE IN THE TIME OF AIDS
Author: Dr Mark Hunter: Assistant Professor of Social Sciences/Geography, University of Toronto.
Publisher: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press
Reviewer: Bhekisisa Stalin Mncube
AIDS TRANSMISSION: THE HIERARCHY OF UBUFEBE (Polysexual Partners) in South Africa
LOVE IN THE TIME OF AIDS is a valuable ethnography of Mandeni, a suburban town in the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The city embodies the devastation caused by the consequences of HIV/AIDS. According to the 2008 HIV/AIDS prevalence rates, 39% of women in KwaZulu-Natal were infected with HIV. Since then, there is still no noticeable change in the statistics.
The book presents arguments as to why the AIDS epidemic is unfolding so rapidly in South Africa. She combines ethnography and history to illuminate the deep connections between political economy and intimacy—a broader term than sexuality, whose analysis encompasses fertility, love, marriage, and sexual pleasure.
The book reveals the devastation of families caused by HIV/AIDS among broken communities fueled by rising unemployment, poverty and hopelessness. This book is a powerful manuscript that explores the twilight zone between courage and fear; love and death; and hope in the fog of despair. The story is very sad; yet you can be comforted by its strong narrative, academic analysis and engaging style, including the author’s personal anecdotes about his stay in Mandeni.
Mark Hunter has lived and worked in the informal settlement in Mandeni for over five years. As part of his in-depth research: Hunter conducted interviews, surveys, collected love letters, cell phone text messages, oral histories, and archival materials. This allowed Hunter to detail the daily lives and emotions of those infected and affected by the virulent outbreak. In the process, he learned IsiZulu and gained a deep understanding of its nuances: he therefore used more than a hundred IsiZulu words to convey the words his subjects spoke in a way that offered them dignity while enriching their emotional and cultural meaning. reader experience.
The main argument of the book: AIDS is a social problem related to uneven development, skewed resource distribution, rapid urbanization, housing backlogs in developing cities, apartheid urban design, rising unemployment and poverty. Hunter argues that to explain the rapid rise in HIV prevalence in South Africa, we need to note that intimacy, particularly what he calls the materiality of everyday sex, has become a key nexus between production and social reproduction in the current era of chronic unemployment and capital-led. globalization. In other words, as unemployment cast a cruel but uneven shadow over the country, certain aspects of intimacy came to play a more central and material role in the “meaty, messy, and uncertain affairs of everyday life.” Through his study of history and his training as a geographer, Hunter is able to map the connections between first apartheid and then chronic unemployment with the ideas of femininity, masculinity, love and sexuality that created the exchange economy. deadly cocktail) perpetuates the transmission of HIV/AIDS.
He firmly tells us that the factors that cause the epidemic are deeply rooted in the fault lines of society, and it is these fault lines that must be dealt with. Hunter says that AIDS stands as a symptom of all the ills of colonialism and apartheid that have not changed since the dawn of democracy in 1994. It is an indictment of the new South Africa 16 years after its birth.
To explain the relationship between political economy and intimacy—what do I say: the ubufebe hierarchy of multiple sexual partners—Hunter’s research reveals the shocking antics of men and women in Mandeni. It refers to the classification of multiple lovers – the main boyfriend / girlfriend is known as straight. A straight man sometimes has the right to have sex without a condom (no prior HIV test required), and this right extends less to ishende (secret lover) or isidikiselo (secondary lover).
Another interesting finding in Hunter’s fieldwork is the special role of sugar daddies (men who traditionally slept with young girls). She describes these girls’ relationships with their sugar daddies as not merely “casual” or “secondary,” but financially supportive. One of Hunter’s interviewees explains: When he comes to me, he’ll ask if I was involved. Then I’ll either tell him I’m single or I have someone I’m engaged to, the latter will happen. Then I will not say to the third that it is the third; I will say that he is the second. In this ubufebe hierarchy (referred to as a sexually empty woman; or Isoka lamanya for a man), each man is associated with a specific expenditure (eg “one each for money, food and rent” or “ministers of finance, transport and entertainment”).Other on the other hand, some boys may provide sex with men for financial rewards. These providers may be quite different from straight, ishende, and isidikiselo. It is this exchange economy that ensures historical gender inequality, apartheid’s male-centered economy, and rising women. urbanization, chronic housing shortages, as well as unemployment seamlessly fuel the transmission of AIDS. As the book suggests, the South African government is fighting structural economic stagnation with gender-blind social service delivery—beware, be faithful, and be condomized. The maximum of AIDS (ABC) will remain the beginning.
To that end, Love in the Age of AIDS offers an outlet for expressing, thinking about, and deeply understanding the fault lines of AIDS transmission. It is also a moving obituary of those who succumbed to the virus while former South African president Thabo Mbeki trembled. This book is a blueprint for authorities to understand AIDS beyond a biomedical approach: AIDS as a social problem. The book is a must-read for politicians, AIDS activists, and anyone who cares about the future of our country.
REVIEWER’S NOTE: All material facts have been verified by the author.
Bhekisisa Mncube is a freelance/media consultant based in South Africa.
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