Art, artists, and AIDS in Zimbabwe

Artists have been responding to and interacting with HIV/AIDS pretty much right from the beginning.  The last couple weeks have seen a few very interesting articles from Zimbabwean media, talking about how art and artists from that country are addressing the disease.

According to this Aug. 23 article from the Zimbabwe Standard, “United States-based Zimbabwean playwright and actor Danai Gurira’s play, In the Continuum, which she co-wrote with graduate student Nikkole Salter, will be hosted in theatres around the US as part of an HIV awareness initiative and fighting stigma in that country.”

“In the Contiuum” looks at the experiences of two women — one from Zimbabwe and one from Los Angeles — who find out that they have been infected with HIV by their male partners.  According to the article:

In a statement Gurira said the play presented the stories of Nia and Abigail, two women living on opposite sides of the world […] whose diagnoses lead them on a journey of truth, understanding and self-acceptance.”

She said she was happy the play, which has been used by the United Nations for its informative value, was being hosted all over the US. She was also exploring ways of bringing the play to Zimbabwe, she said.

Gurira’s work has won acclaim from American theater critics: this brief bio details her accomplishments.  And here’s an interview with Gurira and her “In the Continuum” co-writer Nikkole Salter, describing the enthusiastic reception the play received at an Edinburgh theater festival.*

Back in Zimbabwe, artists are gearing up for more public involvement with HIV/AIDS issues:

1.  This article discusses the establishment of the SADC Artists AIDS Support Network (SasNet).  (The SADC is the Southern Africa Development Community, an inter-governmental organization with 14 member states.)  According to the article, SasNet “aims to network with HIV and AIDS Service Organisations in the region, and individual member states of the regional body SADC” and to “undertake research and provide statistics and data on artists that are living with HIV and AIDS who need Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART), provide information, services and support to artists in general and in particular to artists living with AIDS.”

2.  This article discusses how SasNet’s founder Eugene Marillier-Malotana “has initiated an artiste’s forum that brings together Zimbabwean musicians, poets and actors together to discuss HIV/AIDS issues.”  More forums are planned, and organizers hope the project will help artists living with HIV/AIDS and encourage artists to get involved with AIDS efforts in their own areas.  The big idea: “Local and regional artistes should be accorded ambassadorial roles in the fight against HIV/AIDS in southern Africa as they understand the dynamics and cultural life of the communities affected.”

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~ by h.e.g. on August 31, 2008.

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