The will to live is key to HIV fight

IN PREPARATION for Nelson Mandela Day I have decided to spend more valuable and quality time with my ageing grandmother. Noyishada ka Maqhoboboza.

IN PREPARATION for Nelson Mandela Day I have decided to spend more valuable and quality time with my ageing grandmother. Noyishada ka Maqhoboboza.

At some stage during her youth she worked as a domestic.

It was at that time that her slave masters gave her and my mother the names Nesta and Etina, respectively, because they could not pronounce their African names.

My defiant mother, Sibongile, eventually changed her name to Portia but my granny never had an issue with her 'acquired' name. My granny is the most robust, forceful, proud, powerful and courageous person I have ever known.

She grew up in the rural areas where clan wars were prevalent. During these bloody battles women were sent to the mountains but my grandmother refused to cower. She later became a colonel in her army.

Even to this day elders in her clan pay homage to her valiant and groundbreaking personality.

In my own personal battle with HIV, it seems I have inherited some of the outstanding genes from the dangerous years she spent as a unique but respected warrior.

Predictably, I have gained immensely from her simplicity, kindness, loyalty and wisdom.

Her views on how the country and our people should deal with HIV are as upfront and uncompromising as you can get. She maintains that South Africans, our generation to be precise, has become a bunch of shameless cowards.

Ka Maqhoboboza believes that no one should be terrified of living with HIV.

She insists that the only reason the status quo persists is simply that we have become too sensitive and have consequently created a self-defeating wall where people hide their insecurities, sexual indiscretions and ultimately succumb to this largely sexually transmitted infection.

"No one need be strong to live," she insists sternly, "What is more important is the will to want to live irrespective of one's challenges."

When that conscious decision "to want to live" has been made it becomes natural to deal with challenges without fear, favour or prejudice.

"A spade is not a big spoon my son. Face your truth, know your enemy and then plan to defeat it with all available resources at your disposal and then success will follow," Ka Maqhoboboza concludes.

The wisdom from our elders is unsophisticated yet it remains honourable, true, relevant and applicable to this day.

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