From a new HIV dissident group in Venezuela, this documentary by South African journalist Vivienne Vermaak is re-posted on FB. I had never seen it before. I remember lovely, blue-eyed Vivienne well; She jump-gagged me from asking an AZT question at the first press conference in Pretoria, in 2000, whispering bitingly in my ear as I raised my hand: “I will ask the AZT question. I’ll do it better.” Something to that effect. I was angry for about 6 years and then I got over it and now I understand that she meant: In South Africa, everything must be narrated in a very precise interior language between white and black South Africans, and an American can’t just pipe up. Could wreck everything. They figured that the Americans and the British had fouled up the AZT debate and now that they had the ball, everything would surely be resolved lickety split.
What happened instead was an unprecedented and unfathomable decade of pure chaos, South Africa style. That means nobody alive can tell you what is even going on anymore. It’s just a layers upon layers of opacity and political sub-text. It’s not the rest of the world; It’s South Africa.
It is AZT that haunts this “debate;” I expect you know that by now. So many dead and such horrific deaths.
As I watch this, many strange realizations that feel surreal, the way things do when silence envelops them.
Sam Mhlongo is dead, from a road accident, in 2006, and former Health Minister Manto Thabalala-Msimang, psychologically bullied to death by the TAC and their ilk, who broke out the champagne when, after President Mbeki resigned, they got a white health minister who understood the importance of drugging black South Africans with toxic drugs that must be venerated at all times like holy water.
Who could ever imagine three respected and loved black South African anti-Apartheid heroes like Thabo Mbeki, Manto Thabalala-Msimang and Sam Mhlongo winding up accused of Satan worship for speaking of AIDS as an illness borne of poverty and malnutrition in post-Apartheid SA?
There is one way and one way only to cope with this and that is the only way to cope with anything on this disordered mad earth: Faith.
All three of them knew, and know now, alive or dead. They know. We know. We all know, and God knows. There is no struggle that remains because it is in God’s hands now. I believe that.