Two and four year olds play games amongst themselves called, “lights off-lights on.” “Lights off-lights on” is a local term used to describe the situation when the electrical power goes off and on. Accordingly, while the children play a game that requires electricity, one will suddenly shout, “lights off!” Immediately, all of them will simultaneously shout, “Mahama-oo!” After a few minutes of inactivity, obviously due to the lack of power, another shouts, “lights on,” and they all begin to laugh and continue where they left. Even when individuals cannot sleep well at night, they exclaim, “Mahama-oo!”
I usually know that a news item about Africa has reached a critical mass when it shows up on Gawker, long one of my writing break diversions. And so it is that Guinea has emerged again into the collective Western consciousness, this time due to increased coverage of an Ebola outbreak. The stories almost write …
Sex workers and truck drivers were at the centre of different HIV/AIDS programmes and media attention when the HIV/AIDS pandemic was officially recognized to be a national disaster in Kenya in the 1990s. Both groups were seen as “risk groups” by international medical experts due to their mobility and “risky sexual practices.” Such narratives usually discuss sex work in terms of health risks and condom use, but fail to hear what women selling sex are actually saying. Listening to what women who self-identify as commercial sex workers say can be the beginning of a more productive conversation about the HIV/AIDS spread and why women sell sex.
Many international women’s organizations continue to pour an enormous amount of energy and resources into defending abortion rights and promoting contraception. Unfortunately, many forge alliances with population control advocates who prioritize limiting births over women’s general health, while callously dismissing resistance to “family planning” as evidence of Africa’s cultural backwardness. However, the problem of unsafe abortions can only be adequately addressed by a holistic approach to sexual and reproductive health that goes beyond discretely addressing women’s rights to a safe abortion and contraception to include women’s rights to economic resources.