It is hardly possible to pick up a copy of Tanzania’s two main English language newspapers these days without seeing some reference to the AIDS scourge which is causing such serious concern. During the last three months of 1989 there were more than thirty different articles or news items on the subject in the press.
The saddest of all the stories was in the Daily News of October 7th and was written by Joseph Kitharoa from Bukoba in Kagera region, It concerned thousands of children who have become orphans and elderly dependents with no family members left to support them because of AIDS. A recent survey found 6,000 orphans who were being helped by the Tanzanian and Danish Red Cross organisations with donations of clothes and blankets.
The CCM Party in Kagera Region has instructed rural districts to immediately introduce bye-laws prohibiting people from attending night drinking parties and to close pombe (beer) shops and disco halls by 6 pm each evening. In Mara Region the party has called upon those performing circumcision ceremonies to suspend them until all have received instruction in hygiene.
Minister of Health Dr Aaron Chidu8 told an inaugural meeting of the newly established National Aids Control Committee that many more people will perish if control measures are not taken by 20 to 40 year olds following the daily increases in AIDS cases.
The Bagamoyo College of Arts cultural troupe has taken a play called ‘Ukimwi’ round many of the worst affected regions. Actor Nkwabi Ng’hangasamala, playing the part of AIDS in the play, and wearing a mask and vividly decorated shirt cries out “Watch out …. I am AIDS and I will shortly demonstrate how I torture end eventually kill those who cross my path”.
During a five-day media seminar on AIDS in Morogoro the participating journalists carried out a survey among Morogoro’s prostitutes. Some said that they refused to have sex with their clients unless condoms were used, They said that they were particularly wary of young people, especially those in a hurry. Those who were fat and old however were allowed sex without condoms. Specialists at the seminar estimated that there were now some 4,000 cases of AIDS in Tanzania and 500,000 people infected with the HIV virus.
In Zanzibar a Member of the House of Assembly suggested total isolation of AIDS victims but the Deputy Health Minister explained that this would be counter-productive and that the identities of Victims would not be revealed to the public.
Liheta Festo, a reader of the Daily News, put it very simply in a two-paragraph letter. ‘If you marry a virgin of the opposite sex and remain faithful, your chances of getting AIDS are about the same as getting struck by a meteor in the swimming pool’! – Editor