I look forward to growing Old and Wise and Audacious.

Friday, August 18, 2006

What was Stephen Lewis really saying and to whom was he speaking.

You would think the speech to close such an important International Conference on Aides would have been........................ a wee bit more sensitive from such a high profile person with a social conscience.

Watching tonights news and hearing Stephen Lewis, I was more than a little taken aback with his attack on the government of South Africa. Not because what he had to say was so strong but it just seemed to me all wrong to be so arrogant from half a world away from the epidemic.

Who the hell are we, white westerners living in a maximal democratic country expecting a minimal democracy to even have the same level of understanding ( not that all of us do) about the transmission of HIV and Aides.

I have to go back a generation where we in the white western world were boycotting everything South African in our (distant ) fight to stop aparthtied. Oh the joy and the sense of tremendous 'release" of oppression when finally Nelson Mandela was free to run and get elected by black africans. Why do we white westerners feel that the politicians of S.A. should know what we know, and behave like we want them to behave. Why?

When there are white western religious leaders who oppose the use of condoms for safe sex because they do not believe in birth control.

It is not as simple as telling the girls in phys ed class that birthcontrol means to keep your panties on and your legs crossed. But that was in my high school not yours and it was more than a generation ago. In those days there was; no; I mean NO discussion of STD's and we didn't eat bush meat either.


knb said...

While I think I understand your point, I did not see his comments as being arrogant.

He is intimately familiar with what the reality is in South Africa and has devoted unprecedented amounts of time, trying to assist in education coming from the grass roots there. The governments of other African countries have begun to respond and many have brillitant programs.

South Africa on the other hand, disputes the HIV AIDS link, suggests that lemon juice and beet root cure the disease and thwart every attempt by any group, to provide accurate information.

With respect, I think you are under estimating the desire of much of the populace of South Africa for their government to change course, including calling for the resignation of Minister's.

Faced with all of this, I think Stephen Lewis has little choice but to be forceful on this matter. I find that far less arrogant than blindly allowing the death of millions, due to the complete ineptness of a government with it's head buried deeply in the sand's of denial.

Do we as white westerners have a right to dictate, anywhere, no. Do we ALL have the responsibility to assist and protect humanity, regardless of where they are, I think so.

A Canadian Publius said...

I am not a huge fan of Lewis, but he did an important thing. He demanded the SA government develop an approach to HIV/AIDS that was grounded in science and modern treatment.

For pete's sake, can you imagine if Tony Clement set up a booth at the Conference to promote garlic, lemon, and beet root as the way to deal with AIDS?

Why should SA be let off the hook for this hocus pocus?

CL said...

Okay, I have a question. Who are we, 'white' North Americans, to believe that we are so intellectually superior that we can't expect South African politicians to make use of the scientific and medical information available?

Sorry, I don't agree with you at all.

Stephen Lewis wants South African politicians to do right by their citizens. He engages them as equals.

The option you're implying (and I don't think you mean to) is that South Africa's culture is beyond our knowledge, and so we should not 'interfere' in what is a human tragedy.

Lolly said...

knb, a canadian publius and cl;

of course you are all right in your comments and I did not go through any lengthy explaination behind this blog. I put a comment into the blogoshere right after an unexpected visit from a friend.

She has just completed her second term as an elected Chief, a gruelling 2 terms around a tribal council with some very serious problems. She also informed me that her X husband had died on wednesday of side effects to HIV/aides. She did feel Stephen Lewis spoke with arrogance.

This morning CBC radio carried a story about the aboriginal community feeling they were all but ignored in their fight with HIV Aides at the International Aides conference.

knb, I agree that other African countries have been diligent in trying to combat aides, whilst still dealing with malaria (an even bigger killer.)We spent some months living in Dar es salaam in 2000 and there was an ongoing conference on HIV/aides (my Swahili does not have a large vocabulary but I know the pink ribbon and it's meaning.)

I always thought you used lemon juice to clean the stain of beet root.

I know this is not a time for jesting but I couldn't resist.

My friends in SA tell me that many men believe the cure is having sexual intercourse with infant girls . Let me rephrase that it really isn't "with" it is more like "to" or in our culture 'rape".

The more, I know, the more I know that I don't know.

knb said...

The more, I know, the more I know that I don't know.

I'm with you on that, :)!