Hon. Dr. Richard Nchabi Kamwi
Minister of Health and Social Services
On the occasion of the
Official launch of the novel “The Other Presence”
By Namibia’s Dr. Francis Sifiso Nyathi
27 May 2008
Madam Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi, President of NCCI
Mrs Tangeni Angula, CEO of the Namibia Institute of Pathology Dr. Sifiso Nyathi, the author of the novel “The Other Presence” Esteemed business leaders
Distinguished invited guests
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am delighted to join you today in launching this book, an important tool in our ongoing efforts to demystify HIV/AIDS. The book being launched here signifies the author‟s desire to contribute meaningfully to education and information sharing materials, especially targeted toward the youth highlighting the dangers of irresponsible behaviour which may lead to contracting diseases such as HIV/AIDS. The production of the book, The Other Presence, and its translation into local languages, are thus aimed at reducing the silence which has surrounded topics that have long been considered by traditional, religious and community leaders as being too sensitive to discuss.
The book is an interesting mixture of theological reflection and re al life experiences. It is informative, challenging, provocative and will promote the debate that is necessary to overcome the myths that perpetuate ignorance. The book also thoroughly addresses the traditional myths and denial associated with the pandemic and calls for an action-oriented approach by the society in dealing with HIV/AIDS. For those who may not know, Dr Nyati has also authored internationally acclaimed plays: God of Women & Oracle of Gidino which also address the subject of stigma about HIV/AIDS.
I would like to congratulate Dr. Nyathi for this noble initiative and the excellent piece of work which he has produced. I am extremely impressed by his skilful writing and the manner in which he has used his talent in writing and his intellectual capacity to make such an outstanding contribution to the combating of HIV/AIDS. It is indeed encouraging to see young Namibians such as Dr. Nyathi producing such work of international quality and standard which can be used in our schools for the learning of languages in which this novel is written as well as to provide a unique tool for educating the society about the dangers of HIV/AIDS.
The initiative to write this novel, solely dedicated to HIV/AIDS is very commendable and must be supported by all Namibians. It educates us about HIV/AIDS, its consequences and prevention methods. It sends a very positive message about demystifying and de-stigmatising HIV/AIDS. The story of a US educated young man called Thomas in Chapter Six of the novel who decided to break the tradition of silence about AIDS related deaths in his society and prefer to encourage his people to stop blaming witchcraft and other mysterious causes of HIV or AIDS related deaths sounds very common in our own society.
Ladies and gentlemen,
On page 25, Thomas tells his friend Kajah in no uncertain terms that the time was ripe for the society to accept that HIV/AIDS was real and was killing their own people. He said: “You see, you and I have a duty to demystify and de-stigmatise the whole AIDS issue. Our people are dying and if we remain silent about it and treat the disease as some sort of a mysterious issue, we will all perish. Come on now; don‟t behave as if you are an old man whose philosophies of life are rooted in the mysteries of sorcery.”
What an example this character sets for the youth, and what a lesson he imparts to us all!
Indeed, if we are to win in the fight against
HIV/AIDS, we will have to confront the misconceptions and dangerous attitudes that surround the disease.
Who better to champion this
transformation than the youth, who are lively, open minded and conscientious?...