We currently believe that Africa is beset by a sex plague. Believing that Africa and Africans are doomed, lesser than, or less resilient or worthy than Europeans and Americans is not a new idea; it is a very old idea.
Our current fascination for Africans is to worry about their sex lives; to experiment with drugs on them while they are pregnant, to give them vaginal gels and foams to use during intercourse, to condomize and circumcise the men, and drug the women during pregnancy, with a drug called Nevirapine.
How should African mothers take a drug that does this, when the majority of them have no clean water?
When they have no food? When they have no protection from the elements, no work, no government, no protection from the violent elements of their own society?
Before we, once again, worry about the sex lives of ordinary African people, (like Thomas Malthus and Francis Galton; like the UN Population Fund), let’s work a little harder to get clean water and local development to Africans.
Before we throw up our hands and say what the Onion newspaper mocks us for:
“U.S. Launches AIDS-Awareness Campaign In Botswana: ‘You All Have AIDS,’ Says U.S.”
It’s a parody that we’re enforcing in reality.
It’s the poverty, Stupid.
Where there is clean water, sewage reclamation, basic 20th Century sanitation, there is little chance for AIDS to thrive.
It is necessary to review the history of European ‘intervention’ in Africa; histories of population concern and control, of Eugenic thought and policy – and worse, of brutal racism, slavery, and decimation of populations. We in the West must take caution in examining our intentions and practices toward Africa and Africans.
We can do better for these people than to condemn them publicly as sexual lepers, isolating them from their communities, and putting them on hard and harsh drug therapies that are registered against a pre-supposed death. We must first address their food, water and infrastructure needs. We must build a sewage reclamation and water supply system for every town and village where we are concerned about AIDS, long before we worry about drugging and circumcising them, as we have been doing, following the strange passions of some AIDS activists.
We’ve got to reduce the burden on AIDS patients. We cannot ethically, morally or spiritually take their death as pre-ordained, lest we enforce it by over-medicating, over-burdening, and over-reaching with an hypothesis, or a belief, whose effectiveness may well be spent, and whose validity is long past.
We must open ourselves to re-considering this problem; we may discover, if we allow ourselves to, that it can be solved with a different, more open, more compassionate, better reasoned, more practical and more beneficial approach.