It’s not African

First part of the story abotu last saturday’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

There were a number of reportabel events during the day, which was held in Ngluni, the next village on the way to Nairobi, and organised by Jackson Zizinga, my fellow volunteer from Uganda. The one thats in my head at the moment is this:

Mama Darlene, who is Jackson’s employer and the force behind having the awareness day, was speaking in English (even though she’s a local) and a man, whom I found out later is a lcoal primary-school headmaster, was translating for her, one sentense at a time. She thanked everyone, and introduced all the guests (myself included) and invited us to say a few words (which I was only half expecting) and then went on to speak of the importance of the work.
“I know it’s not African to talk about sex”, she said.
The translator stammered, grinned and turned away from the crowd.

Apparently she’s right!


  1. tom Says:

    Intrigued to hear more of this tale.

    There was a program on telly last night about an Oxford educated girl-swot who met and married a Masai warrior. They talked about how much they had in common: for example, while she spent her childhood mostly reading and practising violin, he was fighting and killing lions with his knife.

  2. Cad Says:

    That made me smile 🙂

    In reply to your previous post, I miss you too Mark (as do the girls).

    Anyway, here is something to cheer up everyone:

    Get out your tweeds Chaps and Chapesses, you are now entering a "Doffing Zone"!

  3. Mark Says:

    Two ladies who were in the group on the day came to visit me last week. I talked to them about the above incident. They told me its easy to say "sex" in English, but the Kikamba word for it is very strong and they themselves would not want to say it. I suggested that this might be a matter of perspective and one of them agreed. She told me two words for sex in Kikamba and said it was the first time she had said them aloud herself. She said she’d be trying to get members of the group to speak more openly about sex in their mother tongue.

    At the time I was supprised that Mama Darlene had given that part of her talk in English since she speaks Kikamba and had even taken the role of translating other people into Kikamba during the day. Now I suspect that even she herself would not have been comfortable saying "its no african to talk about sex" in her own African mother tongue.

    In fact, to the best of my knowledge, nobody actually spoke directly about sex at that event. The messages about the dangers of sex and promisquious (sp?) living were communicated using short humorous plays. There was no condom demo (though they told me they have done them in the past). The whole subject is appraoched side-on. Its great that they are doing something about it. But I think its only a start. I believe that if they want to change behaviour, meetings like this need to talk freely and openly and comfortably about sex in the people’s own language, and with a good deal of humor to relieve the tension and embarassment of the audince, until such things become commonplace, and therefore normal.

  4. Mark Says:

    Cad, how did you find that Chap magazine, searchng for ‘cad’ on Google? I skimmed the bit about Terry Thomas, excelent!

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