Yinka Agbetuyi Of Indina University continues with the dialogue on AIDS
I want to mention one or two observations on the AIDS/NAIDS debate and the issue of poverty, which has been thought provoking. I think it is unquestionable that there are two different AIDS since the discovery: the political and the pathological AIDS. Since its discovery at the dawn of the eighties it is remarkable how the disease had made its tortuous journey, from the United States and leap-frogged into Africa to ravage the continent with a merciless fury and I will attempt a sketch of the itinerary.
I attended a seminar on this dreaded diseases as a journalist in Nigeria in 1985, at a time I was considering moving to the West when the news of this scourge took the continent by surprise. Then it was seen as a disease of the West, and naturally the proposed journey had to be delayed, for a few more years under the logical reasoning, that if death does not seek one out in ones salubrious environment, why go abroad courting death? So many would-be-travelers were of that frame of mind before the military kleptocrats made up the mind of many, that really the choice is merely one of two evils by laying waste the economic resources of the country (indeed it took the reassurance of the girlfriend of a friend's elder brother, who studied in London to reconsider my position. She assured that it was not an epidemic visible in the streets of European capitals).
The purpose of the seminar was to provide the type of statistics which Dr. Aluko asked for. The study presented at the seminar sought to show whether, it was mainly a sexually transmitted disease or a disease transmitted by other means since a few cases were allegedly discovered in the West African sub-region. The methodology was to expose prostitutes to as much unprotected sex as possible for over a period of time and to compare the health conditions of those involved in the experiment. Participants were from Sierra Leone and the Cote d'voire region. According to the findings of the research, the only ones who developed symptoms of the disease were the drug users among the prostitutes, who incidentally were also malnourished, since they engaged in the trade to feed their drug habits. At any rate the reaction of Nigerians was that the disease was too far away and foreign to cause any alarm; the case of the Afro beat King in the late 90s jarred everyone out of their complacency.
By the 90s while I was resident in the UK, the disease had made its forceful entry into East Africa, and the depredations in that part of the world was frightening. Again there were those who pointed out that the symptoms were indistinguishable from those of malnourishment. Of course, the period of abatement coincides with the period in which a large immigrant population movement to the West occurred, and lots of hard currency was remitted home to ameliorate the deplorable conditions of kith and kin (to complement the efforts of the NGOs. But the interesting bit is the manner in which the pandemic suddenly abated in that part of Africa, packed its baggage and headed for the newly independent black majority in South Africa. I mention this fact because of Dr. Geshekter's allusion to postcode discrimination by the disease even in America. And I supplement his argument with the news alert I monitored on the CNN, in Indiana in 2003, that the single most afflicted group by the disease in Florida are the African Americans.
Up till 1999, the current South African president Thambo Mbeki denied the existence of the disease among South Africans, and that it was the cause of the death toll experienced by the country. Of course he has now changed his tone as the country's leader, and with the backing of Nelson Mandela.
But the observations of Dr Mhlongo on AIDS and NAIDS are very cogent here. I say this with comparative similarities afforded by my Holocaust scholarship, in which the Nazis labeled the Jews as purveyors of vermin, and promptly ghettoized them in unsanitary conditions to realize their self-fulfilling prophecies regarding their victims. The first stage was to lay Africa prostrate, (see President Olusegun Obasanjo's 1980s publication, Africa Embattled, and the Mayfair Set for how the West actively despoliated Africa, with the connivance of the military kleptocrats across the continent). The second is to use the malnutrition generated and its symptoms for the purposes of the connection between Aids and Naids. For the goal, your guess is as good as mine. This is what lies at the heart of the controversy between AIH and PIH. Of particular interest in the Mayfair Set was how the Asante Gold mines were sold for a song to foreign interests. A related issue is the current patenting of genetically modified cocoa trees in the West African sub region, in which the originally owners are pressurized to forgo their ownership of the crops.
The current trend is what I would call the condition of Nano-imperialism, in which the cultures that control science at the sub-atomic level use such control to regulate the thinking and action of humankind. Last spring in London, I watched a program on AIT (Africa Independent Television, monitored in London) in which some Nigerians confessed that they were induced (financially) by interested sponsors to declare themselves HIV positive, even though they were heterosexuals and were professed non-drug users, to add to the statistics Dr. Aluko asked for.