l o n g l i f e
positive hiv stories
This book shines a light behind the grim statistics to illuminate the human face of HIV/AIDS in Cape Town’s largest township. Thirteen remarkable women step out of the shadows to tell their personal stories, in words, paintings and photographs, with frankness and humour. Woven between these thirteen tales is the tireless struggle of the health care and campaigners, in particular the Treatment Action Campaign, whose battle against the apathy of government and the pharmaceutical industry is as moving as the tales themselves.
“The message of this book is one of struggle and hope for the rights to life, dignity and health care. As a record of a difficult chapter of political and public health in South African history, this book will be an important document.” Zackie Achmat, Treatment Action Campaign Chairperson.
“Long Life’s gutsy narratives and participatory research are a powerful cry for reason and compassion in the time of AIDS.” Professor Njabulo Ndebele, Vice-Chancellor, University of Cape Town.
South Africa is in the throes of a new struggle brought on by the AIDS pandemic. Through this exhibition and collaborative book project, thirteen courageous and fortunate Khayelitsha residents living with HIV or AIDS step out of the shadows.
Unlike the estimated 900 South Africans who die untreated every day, this collective who call themselves the Bambanani Women’s Group, have all had access to anti retroviral therapy or mother to child transmission prevention. They and their children are alive, and they wish to tell their stories to advocate for treatment for all.
Here are their body maps, photographs and stories.
Body maps are used to explore and record and reinvent the ways in which we picture our bodies and our lives. These layered paintings became the basis for further in depth interviewing and story telling.
The self-taken photographs using disposable cameras became another means of expression and an additional research tool for focus group discussions.
Through the Memory Box Project, which was named after an intervention designed to prepare people for death, the Bambanani Women’s Collective have instead told stories in which they dare to hope and look to the future. Woven between these stories and art work, is the tireless struggle of health care workers and campaigners, in particular Medecins Sans Frontieres and the Treatment Action Campaign.
Long Life was a collaborative participatory research and advocacy project involving the Bambanani Women’s Group, Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF), the Memory Box Project of the University of Cape Town, Otherwise Media, Jonathan Morgan, Kylie Thomas, Kali van der Merwe, Valentina Leo and Jane Solomon. Funding was provided by MSF, and by the Memory Box Project. The book, Long Life, positive HIV stories, Jonathan Morgan and the Bambanani Women, is published by Double Storey Books.
For more information see
the wound that does not bleed
die wond wat nie bloei nie
[a view from the inside]
exploring the world of children and youth
living on the streets of Cape Town
Kali van der Merwe in collaboration with Davide Tosco
The wound in the Xhosa idiom “Iduma Elingopiyo” is a wound of the heart, a wound that cannot be seen or touched, this is why there is no blood. It is a wound of betrayal, heartbreak and inner suffering.
Welcome to the world of children living on the streets, “strollers” as they like to call themselves. Although some youth profess to enjoy the freedom this street life gives them, many choose the streets simply because their home lives were not bearable any more, the result of poverty, physical abuse, alcoholism and neglect. Of course for most of them their new circumstances are not much of an improvement. Forced to survive on handouts and petty crime, they are subject to the vagaries of weather, disease, substance abuse, harassment by officialdom, rape and various forms of exploitation by older gangsters. What street life does offer them is some sort of companionship, with many forming substitute families giving them a sense of belonging.
This book is based on a documentary filmed on and off over a period of two years. A very intimate perspective into life on the street and what goes through the mind of a young child living such a life is presented. The "strollers" are followed on their daily routine which includes visits to game shops, singing songs, night time fears, begging for money, food feasts, acrobatic games and daily conversations, “Strollers” tend to look after one another even though violence amongst themselves is high.
The book and film are a tribute to the talent and resourcefulness of youth attempting to survive and cope on their own.
photographs, layout design, interviews - Davide Tosco
layout design, interviews - Kali van der Merwe