WORTH A READ? – YES
RATING – 7/10
Iweala’s book is essentially a non fiction account of the prevalence of AIDS in Africa and Nigeria in particular. The author is a Harvard-educated physician and the son of Nigerian Minister of Finance/Former Managing Director of World Bank- Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. In the book, the staggering level of ignorance and therefore devastation caused by AIDS is explored. It charts the authors travels between NIgeria and the United States during a four year period trying to understand the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. I personally, only found out whilst reading the book that 4% of Nigeria’s population is HIV positive -essentally 3 million nigerians are living with HIV! I enjoyed the juxtaposition of information aimed at creating awareness with emotive stories from actual people he interviews on their experiences living with the virus and the general attitude of Nigerians to sexuality and AIDS. He mentions the revelation by Fela’s brother that the pioneer of afro beat died of AIDS, to the disbelief of multitudes. That said, I found the book well-written and engaging. Its something you can easily finish reading in a day or two.
Any avenue that opens up dialogue about such a crucial issue is fantastic. The poor level of education and resulting high level of ignorance in Nigeria means that so many Nigerians do not believe that the AIDS virus actually exists and many that do, feel it is communicable just by touch or being in the same environment. There are many awareness campaigns currently in Nigeria, however knowing that we have to extend care to people who already have the disease, is important. Many people are still ostrasized and face rejection from loved ones as a result of it which means they are hesitant to get tested or reveal their status, delaying treatment and letting their health deteriorate due to fear of being judged. Whist purchasing the odd MAC Viva glam lipstick is great, there is so much more we can do.