Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Africa , Feminism, HIV/AIDS, South Africa

Love in the time of AIDS

Pumla Dineo Gqola discusses promiscuity and culture and asks what impact these have on the spread of AIDS in South Africa which has 40% of the worlds infected population.

Sex with multiple partners is so entrenched in Southern Africa that it is a religion, a basic moral philosophy for most people here. It is often simply called culture or, specifically, African culture. Political leaders who marry an increasing number of wives and royalty that flaunts an equal number of wives and concubines are highly visible.

Often such men conflate their multiple partners with culture, making it harder for us to confront them without being seen as uncultured or, worse, unAfrican. Consequently, even those who do not have multiple partners overlook this practice as part of our collective psychological DNA. Like the genetic DNA we carry in our cells, we pass it on.

Again the use of culture to oppress and justify local patriarchies and making any criticism into acts of disloyalty punishable by exclusion from community or institutions.

To accuse an African of attacking or being disloyal to her/his culture is an effective silencing weapon because it reminds Africans of prior wounding by a series of violent systems that started with slavery and ended with apartheid. It is the ultimate weapon. Yet, as Dr Mamisa Chabula constantly reminds us, customs are meant to heal, not to kill. Opportunistic use of culture against one another lies at the heart of what is killing us in the region.

We still have far to go on the journey to liberating our minds!


  1. bfp

    really really important essay–thanks SO much for posting. I especially like the part where it says “customs are meant to heal, not to kill”


    bfps last blog post..Getting Ready to Grow…

  2. Death is past
    life is here
    culture is a band
    he sang the song
    and banged the drum
    and now we are free
    except for aids.

    cases last blog post..Journey to the other side