"Staying Healthy....Staying Alive"

HIV-AIDS Festival  

Sponsored by the
United African Alliance Community Center UAACC & Kuji Foundation

 

"Ishi kwa Afya…Uwe na Uhai!"

In Kiswahilli, the language of East Africa, that means "Staying Healthy...Staying Alive!"

This was the chant that rang out through the streets of Arusha last Saturday, April 19, 2003.   

A huge crowd of youth carrying colorful banners and homemade posters slowly wound through the neighborhoods and business areas in the Ngarenaro area of the Arusha community, good naturedly challenging onlookers to join the parade.  The day was overcast with drizzles of rain pelting the marchers from time to time.  Nobody seemed to mind though.  We all considered ourselves soldiers in a life or death campaign...a campaign to save lives through education...save lives through positive life choices.  

 

More than 600 youths streamed into the activities hall at the Technical College Arusha and learned and shared knowledge through maigizo, ngoma, discussions, video, and rap! 

Artists from Moshi based Rafiki Arts Group and the White Orange Youth organization enlightening the audience through a lively maigizo 

 

"You youth are all revolutionaries...committed soldiers, out to make a difference in our community...spreading powerful knowledge about HIV/AIDS prevention..."

...UAACC managing director,  Pete O'Neal said.  

Most of the youth organizers agreed that the way forward, toward an eventual eradication of HIV/AIDS is:

lAbstinence

lFaithful Monogamy 
(with one tested partner)

and 

l Condoms
(as a not very effective, last  resort) 

 

Youth from the following activists organizations participated in the festival including:

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The KushKemet Actors Group (based at UAACC)

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African Traditional Dance Group

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Aang Serian Peace Village Group

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The Maasai Arts Group 

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The White Orange Youth Organization  (based in Moshi town)

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Rafiki Arts Group (based in Moshi town)

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African Youth Health Promotion Group

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ChemChem Kidedeo (based in Dar es Salaam & often featured on an ITV television sitcom)

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Bongo Street Boys

Included also on the program was the East African premier of
"JUNGU KUU"
an HIV/AIDS education film featuring the KushKemet Actors Group and the African Traditional Dance Group. 

The film was edited by Sister Joju Cleaver ji Jaga of the Kuji Foundation.

 

"You are a child of the universe
You have a right to be here..."

These are the words that Charlotte O'Neal told the crowd of youth, quoting from the famous poem, "The Desiderata."  But it was emphasized time and time again throughout the day, that with that right there is a choice...and that choice is simply...

 Life...or Death!

 


Brother Ali Mhina served as the very able MC for the festival. 
His lively banter, sometimes assisted by Bro. Steve Mnguto, added spice and laughter to an otherwise solemn, serious subject.  Ali is pictured above with Mama E., who rendered a touching testimony from her perspective as a woman who has lived with HIV/AIDS for nearly twelve years!  This courageous woman answered all the questions put to her by the audience and the community, when the basket was passed around, gave generously what they had.  It is hoped that the monies collected will ease some of Mama E's suffering because of the disease.

Honorable Paul Lotha Laiser who is Mayor of Arusha, served as Guest of Honor for the event.  He urged the crowd to always consider HIV/AIDS victims as still belonging to our community...our families.

"The time of shunning people because of AIDS has passed!"

News FLASH!!!  Read an article about the event in ARUSHA TIMES
Just click here to read:  "The War Against AIDS Escalates!"

 ALSO

Read an important letter to the Editor of ARUSHA TIMES from the O'Neal's
Click on the mailbag section to read the letter in the May 3 - 9 issue