Friday, May 11, 2007

Andile Carelse (For Dazed & Confused : Japan)

In The Words Of
The Leading Lady: "Personally I feel that everyone is speaking on our behalf as Africans. When are we going to be given the chance to talk about how we want to stop this issues like HIV/Aids in Africa? Take for example the Live8 show. I am sure the intentions were good but it was a slap in the face, a huge mess like money is being thrown around to Africa. The Africa leg of it seemed like it was an after thought, like “Oh yes lets have an Africa leg of it because that’s who we are raising money for”. Yes we have HIV and sexual violence but we cant be defined by our problems we also have lawyers and great thinkers who are capable of helping direct the future of the continent. Though to the rest of the world the efforts made by African leaders to meet together and form African organizations may not seem so significant, I think it’s awesome because we need our leaders to speak to and for us. We have to take charge, because too often the belief is that Africa is sitting with folded arms waiting for help. Not true at all. From a personal place as a young African woman, I don’t believe that all the things that have happened in my life, the sexual violence and having to take care of people who died from HIV aids was just so that I could experience pain.

"I believe it was all so that I could take my place in this new movement that liberates us, so that I could be one of the voices that tells the world what we as a people are about. I spend three quarters of a year educating young people how to protect themselves from social ills and speak out to defend themselves. I am also glad that our current President is taking such an aggressive stance towards the economy, because you know what Africa needs? To be economically free and strong so that we can be better equipment to handle our own problems. I am not saying international aid is a bad thing and for the most part its still needed, but you know with that funding, a lot of time comes a tag with conditions. I spent a few months in the states taking part in a fellowship project, I was selected for the work that I do as a non-profit organization, Open Disclosure, in the fight against sexual violence which is in fact one of the causes of the spread of HIV in South Africa. I will never forget I was at this concert that was headed by Carlos Santana, in Boston. The aim of it was to raise money for HIV/Aids in South Africa.

"The truth is that the numbers that were given out to the public at that show were appalling, basically according to the stats that were repeated throughout the concert all forty-four million South Africans were dying! When in actual fact only a Quarter of the population is affected which is still too high, but what I am trying to say is that the numbers were fluctuated. Then as a South African I kept wondering I wonder where all this money raised will go? What hospice, what organization? No one could tell me the answer to that. If you are raising funds be responsible enough to research and find out who is already doing something on the ground and also make someone accountable for where the money is going that its being used effectively, don’t just give with a blind eye because that is hugely insensitive too. I hate to stay on the issue of funds, and please don’t misunderstand me. It’s just that unless you’ve been in the same room with someone who is in the last stages of this disease and you can smell the death and see the hopelessness in their eyes. Then spend sleepless nights long after they have passed not able to take the image out of your heart and out of your mind.

"Or unless you’ve been through a situation where you have lost someone close to you to this virus or live with someone in your life with the virus, its very easy and very dangerous for you to get up on a stage, being so far removed from the problem. There is a balance fine I agree and we all have to fight this together, but there is also the risk that is run of alienating the very people you are trying to help. I will never forget the Staying Alive concert, at the banquet it was awesome, I performed, Bongo Maffin and B.O.P did too. Alicia Keys attended the banquet, it was great. Now on the night of the main concert at Greenpoint Stadium in Cape Town, I knew that I would never be a fan of Diddy’s. Simply because that night a few minutes before he went on stage he was busy with little coloured girls that you could see were 15 years old, right there with bottles of champagne.
As I walked passed him, our eyes met and I stood still not because I was star struck but I was shocked. Here he was about to go on stage to tell people to use a condom, to talk about safe sex and yet here he is with these young girls. I don’t even want to know what happened after the concert.

"So my thing is these companies might be well meaning but unless and only if they start involving people from these places and I am not doubting that we have people who will sell us out for their own good, but they still need to do a lot more research. Bono for example I love that man, he will spend say a month in a country to find out what is really going on, minus the cameras and all the rest and work from that way, without arrogance or a holier than though attitude. Africa has a lot of pain and ills, but at the core of it all, we are a proud people. I might not be HIV positive, but I am affected everyday of my life, because I live in this country, Thankfully at the time that I went through sexual violence HIV wasn’t so rampant. These days women not only worry about being raped but it’s also a case of them fearing a possible death sentence because the possibility of contracting the virus is very high. I speak out and do the work that I do because if I don’t say anything the world will continue to see Africa as a basket case and as an African living here I am in a position to understand and have more of a direct impact.

"This might sound crazy but I believe that the promise of the future lies in Africa. Africa just needs to get up and realize who she is, where she is, start taking care of her fellow brothers and sisters, get knowledge and mobilize herself.
In the face of HIV young Africans still are able to face it and say, even with this we will overcome. I believe that is what will happen."

Later.








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