The weeks

twentytwelve







Twentytwelvetwenty is this week. And maybe it brings some good news. The FDA at the end of last week announced the drug Truvada can be used as a prevention for people who are not infected with HIV, but are at risk of becoming infected. A place to start using the drug could be Swaziland. The official HIV statistics tells us that the HIV prevalence among the population is just below 30%. The unofficial figures puts the number closer to 40%. But however you look at it; a real high number of people are walking around posing a serious risk to the rest of their country men and women. So would it be an idea to use the drug on the not yet infected? The critics will say that the drug would give a false feeling of security. But I am sure these orphans would have liked their deceased parents to have had the choice at least. If the drug was free of charge, that is.

The boy and the girl were found in the streets of Mbabane. Now they live in a wash room in the government hospital. Not officially. The hospital is not supposed to be an orphanage. But nonetheless they are there. The staff cannot just refuse to take them in. Nurses and doctors are human beings and they have only the choice either to keep the kids down here in the basement or to put them back on the streets. There were quite a few children in that wash room.

In many ways Swaziland is a sad place to be. Ruled by a king who is way above his people. Just a couple of weeks ago he got a personal jet for his birthday. Nobody will tell you who paid for it. He also likes to marry young virgins. Preferably once a year at the Reed Dance though he has skipped a couple of times. There's no hint of democracy, no freedom of press, the country is bankrupt. No money to buy drugs for the HIV infected who used to be treated.

King Mswati the third is of course concerned with the high HIV figures. In 2000 he announced that all HIV-positive people should be "sterilized and branded". And in 2001 he used old traditional powers to invoke a chastity rite encouraging Swazi girls from sexual relations. The
umcwasho banned sex for Swazis below 18, then two months later the king married a 17 year old virgin. There you have the phrase "a leader by example" put to test.

But even kings can run into trouble in their marriages. Two of his wives have left (fled) him and another one is rumored to have tried to abandon him as well. Queen Inkosikati LaDube is now under house arrest. The not so poor man is now left with 10 wives plus the arrested one. What to do?

Well, let's see in September when the Reed Dance is on again.

The Swazis are super nice and welcoming people to strangers. On the surface the country is at peace and very beautiful indeed. But people are very subdued. As a local journalist told me: "The country is not peaceful, it's silent".

Have a quiet week.