REPRESENTATION OF HIV/AIDS VICTIMS IN CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN PLAYS; A STUDY OF GERTRUDE KAMKWATIRA’S BREAKING THE NEWS
REPRESENTATION OF HIV/AIDS VICTIMS IN CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN PLAYS; A STUDY OF GERTRUDE KAMKWATIRA’S BREAKING THE NEWS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title Page – – – – – – – – – i
Declaration – – – – – – – – ii
Approval Page – – – – – – – – – iii
Dedication – – – – – – – – – iv
Acknowledgement – – – – – – – v
Table of Content – – – – – – – – vii
Abstract – – – – – – – – – viii
1.1 Background of the Study – – – – – 1-6
1.2 Statement of the Problem – – – – – 6-7
1.3 Purpose of the Study – – – – – – 7
1.4 Significance of the Study – – – – – 8
1.5 Scope of the Study – – – – – – 9
1.6 Methodology – – – – – – – 9
1.7 Theoretical Framework – – – – – – 9
1.8 Definition of Terms – – – – – – 10
1.9 Author’s Biography – – – – – – 10-11
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
TEXTUAL PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
3.1 Plot Summary of Breaking the News – – – 36-38
3.2 Stigmatization in Breaking the News – – – 38-48
3.3 Living a Normal Life with HIV/AIDS in Breaking the News 46-48
3.4 Breaking the News as a Reflection of Today’s Society – 48-53
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
4.1 Summary – – – – – – – – 54-56
4.2 Conclusion – – – – – – – – 56-58
References – – – – – – – – 59-61
The concept of stigmatization has received significant attention in recent years in the HIV/AIDS literature. Although there are some changes towards the positive, AIDS victims still remain significantly stigmatized. AIDS stigma and discrimination continue to influence people living with and affected by HIV (PLWA), as well as their healthcare providers. Unless stigma is conquered, the illness will not be defeated. Due to the burden that HIV/AIDS places, people living in Africa are afraid to go for testing. The focus of this work is on exploring and describing the meaning and effects of stigma on people living with HIV/AIDS from the experiences of PLWA and the nurses involved in their care in contemporary African society. It examines the concept of stigmatization as a cankerworm, eating up the heart of the society. The work goes further to discuss how HIV/AIDS patients can live positively, healthy and longer than they expect. Using the play under study, the project also explains the deadly nature of stigmatization on the patients than the virus itself. Stigma persists because of the lack of in-depth knowledge of HIV/AIDS. The work therefore, concludes that stigma accentuates vulnerability to HIV and worsens the impact of epidemic, stigma and discrimination. This leads to fear and lack of interest in testing for HIV and accessing treatment for HIV/AIDS. For that, the project recommends that in-depth information about HIV/AIDS be done through education and massive public awareness campaigns; also that education should be employed in reducing stigmatization and discrimination, government at all levels should not relent in her efforts in providing public enlightenment programmes on HIV/AIDS.
1.1. Background of the Study
In most parts of the world, especially in the Sub-Saharan Africa, the scourge of the HIV/AIDS epidemic has persisted and even worsened. There has been an increase in the level of awareness for HIV/AIDS following massive enlightenment programmes but this is not matched by any change in risky behaviour. Reason deduced from this include absence organized counseling and testing services, the unfavourable economic, socio-cultural and psychological consequences of HIV/AIDS as well as the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease (UNICEF, 2003).
The acronym “HIV/AIDS” is Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that causes AIDS is a small germ that is too small to be seen with an ordinary microscope. It is so small that there could be 230, 000 at the point of a pen or on a full-stop at the end of a sentence. It only takes a few of these viruses to enter your body for you to become infected and later develop the condition we call AIDS; Jean Garland (2005). AIDS is not a disease caused by witchcraft or directly from God or from bad water, or from mosquitoes but one caused by a virus. Viruses are the smallest known infective organism and they reproduce by using the mechanism of the host’s cell. There are several families of viruses that cause AIDS in humans and it belongs to the retrovirus family. two strains of HIV have been identified: HIV-1 and HIV-2. Although these two strains of HIV have the same modes of transmission and results in identical clinical manifestation, there are differences in disease progression rates. It is also possible to be infected with both strains of HIV simultaneously. HIV-1 is the most common strain, with transmission occurring globally. HIV-2 is most commonly found in West Africa and the prevalence in Nigeria from the year 2000 surveillance report is 0.4%.
Without treatment, HIV can gradually destroy the immune system and advance to AIDS which kills faster. HIV is spread through contact with certain body fluids from a person infected with HIV. These body fluids include:
– Pre-Seminal fluid
– Vaginal fluids
– Rectal fluids
– Breast milk
The spread of HIV from person to person is called HIV transmission. The spread from an HIV – infected woman to her child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding is called mother-to-child transmission. In the United States of America, HIV is mainly spread by having sex with or sharing drug injection equipment with someone who is infected with HIV. To reduce the risk of HIV infection, use condoms correctly and constantly during sex, limit the number of sexual partners and never share drug injection equipment.
The consequences of people living with HIV/AIDS is stigma, discrimination and helplessness of victims. Stigma remains the ugliest aspect of being a HIV/AIDS patient. It is the main reason why many people are afraid to see a doctor to determine their status. It makes AIDS a silent killer, because people fear the social disgrace attached to it. For this reason, AIDS epidemic has continued to devastate societies around the world – Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations. HIV/AIDS has spread to every nation since it was reported two decades ago. Africa and indeed, Nigeria, has suffered the devastating effect of the ravaging virus. But more devastating is the psychological effects of the disease on victims and the stigma associated with it. Former Senate President, David Mark called on Nigerians to stop stigmatization and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. Stigma which is defined by Oxford Dictionary as a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance is mostly at play when discussing the pains and helplessness the carriers of this ailment pass through. AIDS stigma and discrimination exist world-wide, although they manifest differently across countries, communities, religious groups and individuals, Olugbemi F. (2013).
Similarly, the consequences of stigmatization include being shunned by family, peers and the wider community, poor treatment on health care and educational settings, tampering with fundamental human rights, psychological damage among others. In addition, stigma not only makes it difficult for people to come to terms with HIV and damage the illness on a personal level, it also interferes with attempts to fight the disease.
Instructively, the World Health Organisation (WHO), in a report cited fear of stigma and discrimination as the main reason why people are reluctant to be tested, to disclose their HIV status or to take antiretroviral drugs. Corroborating this, an international centre for Research on Women (ICRW), report found the possible consequences of HIV-related stigma to be, loss of income/livelihood, loss of marriage and childbearing options, poor care within health sector, withdrawal of care giving in the home, loss of hope and feelings of worthlessness and loss of reputation. In Nigeria, a lot of efforts have been put in place to stem the tide, but it appears like a little drop in a mighty ocean. Both governments, corporate organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGSs), are still trying hard to handle the issue of stigmatization and discriminating against people living with HIV/AIDS.
Despite all these efforts, the treatment meted out on this group of people has continued unabated. However, there should be a way forward. First, the United Nations should do more to encourage health research institutions across the globe to find a cure to this malaise, while governments at all levels all over the world should as a matter of urgency create awareness in order to demystify the causes of the stigma, that HIV/AIDS is not a curse therefore, talk openly about it with people around to make the problem visible and acceptable. Community leaders should also try their best to speak out against stigmatization and discrimination. We should have respect for people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. They are not to be excluded, stigmatized or blamed. Instead, those of us that are not affected should be concerned for them and show love to them while the affected should also accept their fate and always go for antiretroviral drugs, monitoring through regular testing with good balanced diet to help them live for many more years.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
The acronym HIV/AIDS is Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Difficiency Syndrome. AIDS is caused by a small germ called HIV. It is HIV that progresses to AIDS.
Over 42 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide and over 29.4 million of them are in sub-Saharan Africa. 13 million AIDS orphans are living worldwide and 12 million of them are in Sub-Saharan. By 2010, over 40 milion children in Sub-Saharan African countries would have lost one or both parents due to AIDS. Over 7% of all people living with HIV/AIDS are in Sub-Saharan Africa, despite the fact that only 11% of the world’s population live there. Over 90% of those living with HIV/AIDS may not be aware that they have contracted the disease. AIDS epidemic was recognized as a threat to the survival of millions since it was first discovered. in these years, 60 million people have been infected and 20 million have died (WHO report, 2005).
With the above alarming statistics, it becomes imperative to investigate how literature and literary writers have concerned themselves with this scourge. This view point is observed in the play Breaking the News.
1.3. Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this project is to highlight the effect of stigmatization and discrimination on people living with HIV/AIDS in the contemporary African plays as buttressed by Gertrude Webstar Kamkwatira in her play Breaking the News.
1.4. Significance of the Study
The significance of this research work is to:
– Expose readers to the nature and implications of HIV/AIDS associated stigma and discrimination so they can fight same.
– Help readers to develop a positive attitude towards people infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.
– Create awareness in order to demystify the causes of stigma e.g. that HIV/AIDS is a retroviral disease but not a curse. Talking about it openly with schoolmates, parents, friends and everyone around to make the problem visible and acceptable.
– Have respect for people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
– Know that people living with HIV/AIDS are not to be excluded, stigmatized or blamed. Instead, those of us that are not affected should be concerned for them and show love to them, their children and their entire family. This can be a very powerful healing force, (Proverbs 31:8-9).
1.5. Scope of the Study
This research is based on the play Breaking the News by Gertrude Webster Kamkwatira. The research is devoid of field work and interviews. The researcher’s basic source of information shall be the above mentioned text and other related texts or write-ups on HIV/AIDS.
The researcher is using textual analysis and related materials available. The researcher also sought the opinions of other people in the course of the research work and would also include the experience of those who are positive around.
Summarily, the methods used in undertaking this research work are studying related materials, discussions and observation methods.
1.7. Theoretical Framework
The theoretical framework that the researcher intends to use is psychoanalytic literary criticism or literary theory which in method, concept or form is influenced by the tradition of psychoanalysis begun by Sigmund Freud.
1.8. Definition of Terms
i. Representation: It is representing somebody or something in a particular way; something that shows or describes.
ii. HIV: It is the abbreviation for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
iii. AIDS: Is the abbreviation for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
iv. Victims: Person who has been attacked, injured or killed as a result of crime, disease, and accident etc.
v. Contemporary (modern): Belonging to present time.
vi. Stigma: Feelings of disapproval that people have about particular illness or way of behaviour.
vii. Stigmatized: To treat somebody in a way that makes him feel that he is very bad or unimportant.
viii. Discriminating: The practice of treating somebody or a particular group in society less fairly than others.
1.9. Author’s Biography
Gertrude Webster Kamkwatira was born in about 1966 a Malawian playwright, director and actress. She became the director of the wakhumbata ensemble theater in 1999 after the death of its founder, Du Chisiza. Later, she defected from that group and formed the theater group called “Wanna-Do”. Positions she held including president of the National Theatre Association of Malawi and chairperson of the copyright society of Malawi.
Kamkwatira wrote about thirteen plays in English including It’s My Fault. Which deals with domestic violence and sexual oppression, Jesus’ Retrial and Breaking the News, a play about contending with HIV/AIDS.
Her acting career began when there were no many women performers in Malawi. In 1987, she had to take roles in three plays concurrently because Wakhumbata had few actresses.
She died at malaria the age of 40 in 2006.
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