Third Degree AIDS Review
Guest Editor: Cal Volks | Series Editor: Mary Crewe
Anton Smit, The burning man, 2012. Metal. Collection of University of Pretoria. Photo: EYEscape.
Third Degree AIDS Review
Front cover: Andries Botha, For those who will not hear, 1995. Bronze. Collection of Durban University of Technology. Photographer: Paul Mills. I entered a public commissioning process to pitch for this work. ... I knew that the proposed position of this work would be outside the library ... of the Durban University of Technology. What I was actually trying to capture or distil was the idea that education was rarely about the
This extraordinary Review is a collaboration between the
art of listening and doing a small bit of talking. I was also
HIV/AIDS Institutional Coordination Unit (University of Cape
wondering, as the baton of our authority shifted ... from
Town) and the Centre for the Study of AIDS (University of
white ... to black South Africans, if a new generation would improve upon the obtuseness of the previous generation.
Pretoria). This Review is partially funded by HEAIDS, the
Would it be that another idea of power could be more
HIV/AIDS programme of Higher Education South Africa, and
responsive to the needs of our beleaguered humanity?
the European Union. The views expressed in the Review do not necessarily express those of any of the funders.
An institute of learning presupposes that the secrets that we seek on the journey of our historical evolution are embedded within or without our evolving humanity and the archive of knowledge that we hold and that we have
Publisher: Centre for the Study of AIDS University of Pretoria
learnt from our experience. With all public works, once
Guest editor: Cal Volks
you release them, they are then subject to the vagaries of
Series editor: Mary Crewe
a mass of people that will then read the work in multiple
Editor: Robin Hamilton
different ways. It is interesting for me that this work has
Design and production: Bluprint Design
never ever been vandalised ... On the other hand, it is also interesting to me that the institution, who is supposed to care for its cultural investment, has paid little attention to it and neither given much love to it. That is just the way
Copyright ÂŠ 2012, University of Pretoria and the authors. All rights reserved.
in which art enters the world, mostly through the back door (Andries Botha, February 2012).
13 HIV/AIDS and higher education: are we asking the correct questions?
29 Hypocrisy, HIV and higher education:
an â€˜institutional integrityâ€™ hypothesis
63 Cultural nostalgia and critical dialogue in peer education? Towards a generative space for HIV prevention in higher education settings
77 Interrogating the link between gendered
sexualities, power and legal mechanisms:
experiences from the lecture room
Willem Boshoff, Thinking stone, 2010. Belfast black granite. Collection of University of the Free State, Sculpture-
105 Centre for the Study of AIDS
on-Campus Project funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.
109 HIV/AIDS Institutional Co-ordination Unit
Photo: Angela de Jesus.
David Brown, Dialogue at the dogwatch, 1994. Bronze, copper, brass, corten and stainless steel. Collection of University of Cape Town. Photo: Katherine Traut.
Foreword Tertiary institutions occupy a unique position in shaping
history, the nature and the shape of the epidemics – their
debate, action and policy with regards to HIV and AIDS.
swathe through society being the greatest social challenge
This, the second extraordinary AIDS Review, Third degree,
of our time – reveal themselves as an intellectual conun-
examines various ways in which tertiary institutions could
drum, and therefore a core function of tertiary institutions
be, and are, responding to the HIV and AIDS epidemics.
is to address them. An effective response requires that
(We speak of these as distinct, but overlapping, epi-
the entire institution recognise both the threat of HIV
demics because HIV infection, as a period of apparent
and AIDS and the possibilities for a transformed institu-
wellness but increasing vulnerability to illness, not only
tion and society that they represent. This involves eval-
precedes the formal clinical stage of AIDS, but it also
uating the essence, culture and power of the institution
carries sometimes different personal and social meanings
– its sometime hidden workings – and its relationship
and requires different responses from public health and
and interaction with wider society.
other practitioners.) Living and working in the epicentre of epidemics like HIV This Review is a collaboration between HAICU, based at
and AIDS positions one very differently in relation to the
the University of Cape Town, and the CSA, based at the
concerns of the rest of the world, and the rest of the
University of Pretoria. These two organisations are com-
world dealing with HIV and AIDS (noting that it is a
mitted to finding ways to understand and explain the
unique ’world’ of its own with a culture, dynamics and
HIV and AIDS epidemics, and to determining how tertiary
contestations). We have watched as HIV prevalence
institutions and the wider society may come to address
rose, and we have seen how the epidemics have become
and act on the many complex and fascinating social, moral,
routinised. They are now seen as yet another fact of South
political, economic and educational issues that the epi-
African life and in some ways as taken for granted as
reckless driving, violence, crime and poverty, and a sort of weariness sets in, a fatalism, a feeling that perhaps in the
The reason why tertiary institutions should respond to
end all we can do is to sit them out.
HIV and AIDS lies potentially in the recognition that the
But on the other hand, being in the epicentre of these
In times of crisis, such as are posed by the HIV and AIDS
epidemics means that their impact is such that we have
epidemics, or in protecting a fragile democracy, the intel-
to find ways to live through and beyond them and emerge
lectual is very often looked upon to represent, speak out
as a far better society than before, develop new social
for, and testify to the sufferings of others, and to offer
understandings and meanings and see how they can
a vision of a new society based on new ways of seeing
shape the country in ways not yet seen or imagined.
These epidemics must be a catalyst around which dramatic and positive social change can be forged, in parallel with, and indeed affected by and affecting, the other turbulent changes which have come with our new democracy.
For many years, in the years of the political struggle and immediately after 1994, there has been intellectual ferment in South Africa, involving the engagement and curiosity of all but a few academics. Commitment to research, informed by an intellectual and political sophistication, has been the hallmark of politics and ideology in South Africa, yet this has been starkly absent in responses to HIV and AIDS.
As Edward Said reminds us, prominent intellectuals are always in a symbolic relationship with their time â€“ in the public consciousness they represent a force which can be mobilised on behalf of an ongoing struggle or embattled community, for example people living with HIV, orphans or marginalised women. To this very important task of representing the collective suffering (the impact of infection with HIV, the toll of death from AIDS-related conditions, the social stigma) and testifying to their travails, there must be added something else, the task of universalising the crisis (AIDS affects the whole society, not just designated and singledout groups), the task of giving greater human scope to what a particular group, race or nation suffers (the reality
The exact effects of our combined intellectual neglect
of living in the epicentre of the epidemic) and the task
and denial of the ways in which our society deals with
of associating that experience with the sufferings, and
these epidemics, remain to be seen. The consequence of
indeed life aspirations, of others (recognising now that
our failure as academics to create new models of expla-
there can be no academic work that ignores AIDS).
nation and understanding, and new ways of seeing, remains one of the most searing indictments of our roles as
In times of crisis critical intellectuals become more im-
academics, theorists and researchers.
portant. Intellectuals are able to think of ways to shape
responses, to understand and explain social events, and
failed in our role as thinkers, social commentators and
to think about the relationship between theory and
problem solvers. We have also treated the communities
practice. The role of intellectuals is to think about ways
and ‘the people’ in simplistic and patronising ways by
to transform society, to develop new patterns of mean-
thinking that they cannot engage in these kinds of de-
ing and association, and to contemplate new social and
bates. At times we have essentialised their ways, tradi-
tions, cultures and beliefs, afraid or unwilling to challenge them or to engage with aspects which are problematic.
The response of a university to the crises of HIV and AIDS needs to be grounded in intellectual debate and activity.
Tertiary institutions need to develop in their students criti-
Students attending tertiary institutions do so because
cal minds that constantly challenge the taken-for-granted.
they are keen to study further, and because they are
We need ’intellectual activists‘ who will utilise intellectual
capable of sophisticated thought, grappling with diffi-
curiosity, looking for hidden agendas, intriguing patterns
cult issues and seeking new solutions. They are the future
and inter-related forces, and constantly asking difficult
leaders of society, whether through their places of work,
questions. We need vision, optimism and honesty. The HIV
their political or economic development, or through their
and AIDS epidemics have highlighted how many people
commitment to social change through community-based
inhabit areas of dishonesty, unable to discuss their sexual
work and work in social, economic and political devel-
experiences, unable to understand the sexuality of young
people and in denial about sexual lives and identities which do not fit into neat pre-determined formulas.
This work is crucial in a region with such entrenched epidemics. In part, we have failed to stem these epidemics
HIV and AIDS are in many ways a reflection of our society:
because we have failed to understand them. We have
a reflection not just of sexual patterns of behaviour but
oversimplified very complex issues and formulated re-
a reflection of our failure, intellectually, to understand
sponses that are too simple for the complexity of the
the societies in which we live because we tend to cling
problem. We have often been caught up in an uncritical
to and defend what we know. We fear the challenge of
populism – in attempts to serve ‘the people’ we have
opening debates on race, gender, class and culture. We
failed because we have not applied academic rigour
acquiesce in the face of authority. We defend lies and
and knowledge to the problems and so we have often
corruption. We refuse to confront difficult issues. We
blame others and we are cautious about stepping ’out-
Third Degree reflects on tertiary institutions as the third
side’ and being the voices that challenge the status quo,
educational tier, the fact that institutions are often given
orthodoxy and state policy.
‘the third degree’ about their HIV and AIDS responses, and their needs to be autonomous and critical. This AIDS
In the tertiary context there is a safe and privileged space
Review acknowledges that the tertiary sector plays a crucial
to create new ideas and to ask questions, questions about
role in responses to HIV and AIDS, but also that these
how a university mirrors society; questions about racism
responses need to be challenging, critical, controversial
and class dispensation; questions about how universities
feed into negative images of culture, and notions of stigma, privilege, gender and disability. Crucially, to what extent do students and staff with HIV have to hide their status, or is the university a place where someone can feel supported by the whole institution and its members? To conclude, dealing with HIV and AIDS in the tertiary sector is about dealing with ideas, vision, reflection, hope and possibility. This AIDS Review offers reflections on tertiary responses.
The images for this Review reflect artworks from the collections of several South Africa tertiary institutions. The institutions and many of the artists gave permission for their works to be published in this AIDS Review and we would like to acknowledge the support of the sector and the following artists: Bonita Alice, Willem Boshoff, Andries Botha, David Brown, Arend Eloff, Thomas Kubayi, Noria Mabasa, Walter Oltman, Andre Otto, Azwifarwi Ragimana, Anton Smit, Angus Taylor, Jan van der Merwe and Gavin Young.
Cal Volks examines the history of the HEAIDS-supported response and asks critical questions about the way in which that response tends to homogenise institutions and expects
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
conformity and compliance. Mary Crewe offers ideas about the role of the sector in offering a critical response to HIV
Cal Volks is the director of the HIV/AIDS Co-ordination Unit
and AIDS. Pierre Brouard looks at how institutional in-
at the University of Cape Town. She has a background in
tegrity, or the lack of it, can influence responses to HIV
health promotion and management and holds an MA de-
and AIDS. Lebo Moletsane examines the role of culture
gree from Rhodes University. Cal has worked in HIV/AIDS
and cultural nostalgia in peer education, and Sylvia Tamale
prevention, education and management for the past 20
discusses a gender-based response in a law faculty.
Mary Crewe is the director of the Centre for the Study of
Sylvia Tamale is an associate professor of law at Makerere
AIDS at the University of Pretoria. Starting from the early
University (Uganda) and founder of the Law, Gender and
1990s, she was a founder member and co-chair of NACOSA
Sexuality Research Project in the same institution.
and the AIDS Consortium, and subsequently became the chair of the National Department of Education and Health Committee for HIV/AIDS education in schools. She works
regularly with various UN agencies such as UNAIDS, UNICEF and UNESCO, has been a planning member of a number of
2000 – To the edge by Hein Marais
local and international AIDS conferences, and sits on many
2001 – Who cares? by Tim Trengove Jones
NGO boards. She has links with local, regional and inter-
2002 – Whose right? by Chantal Kissoon, Mary
national tertiary institutions, has published a book on AIDS and authored many articles.
Caesar and Tashia Jithoo 2003 – (Over) extended by Vanessa Barolsky 2004 – (Un) Real by Kgamadi Kometsi
Pierre Brouard is the deputy director of the Centre for the Study of AIDS at the University of Pretoria and is a registered clinical psychologist. He has worked in HIV since the mid 1980s and at the Centre for ten years. His interests in-
2005 – What’s cooking? by Jimmy Pieterse and Barry van Wyk 2005 – Buckling by Hein Marais (an extraordinary Review)
clude sexualities, gender, human rights, stigma, govern-
2006 – Bodies count by Jonathan D. Jansen
ance, leadership, accountability, structural drivers of HIV,
2007 – Stigma(ta): Re-exploring HIV-related stigma
prevention, and psychosocial and care issues.
by Patrick M. Eba 2008 – Balancing acts by Carmel Rickard
Relebohile Moletsane is a professor and the John Langali-
2009 – Magic by Fraser G. McNeil and Isak Niehaus
balele Dube Chair in Rural Education in the Faculty of
2011 – (B)order(s) by Vasu Reddy
Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her areas
2012 – Third degree by Cal Volks, Pierre Brouard,
of practice include rural education and development,
Mary Crewe, Relebohile Moletsane and Sylvia
curriculum studies and gender and education, including
Tamale (an extraordinary Review)
gender-based violence and its links to HIV and AIDS,
2012 – Off label by Jonathan Stadler
stigma and body politics.
Angus Taylor, Three granite figures (one of three), 2008. Belfast granite and metal. Collection of University of Pretoria. Photo: EYEscape.
HIV/AIDS and higher education: Are we asking the correct questions? Cal Volks
One response has been a continued attempt between 1999 and 2012 to create broad policy frameworks nation-
For the past 12 years, there has been a growing recognition
ally. While there was a place for policy frameworks and
of the role, globally, and particularly in Southern Africa,
there is room for updating them, HEIs should now focus on
that universities should play in the struggle against HIV
critically analysing the obstacles to policy implementation
and AIDS. “[Their] role as opinion-formers within society,
and separate areas of HIV intervention at HEIs, define the
their pivotal position in the creation and dissemination
problems accordingly and look for achievable ways to over-
of knowledge (and research) and their contribution to
come these obstacles. The institutional response to HIV/
their nations’ human resource capacity marks them out as
AIDS needs to be sophisticated, acknowledging the con-
an essential site for the establishment of national, regional
straints (e.g. funding, personnel, and access to staff and
and global responses to the scourge of HIV/AIDS.”1
students) and heterogeneity within and between institutions. The ‘call to action’ now is a call for detailed reflective
Over the years there have been several ‘calls to action’
analysis to achieve specific implementation plans that are
for higher education Institutions (HEIs) to develop an ap-
tailored to individual institutions, sufficiently recognising
propriate response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, both from
organisational heterogeneity within tertiary institutions.
departments within these institutions and externally by HEI networking organisations, development agencies and government bodies. Initial mobilisation led to funding for institution-specific HIV policies and programmes. But as the HEIs have tried to implement their policies, obstacles have become apparent. Further funding and focus is required.
HEIs, like other organisations, need to analyse the effectiveness of their policies. However, this is a relatively recent development for HEIs: … the orientation of tertiary institutions is outward looking. Research, community service, and – to a lesser extent – teaching are all externally
focused activities. Consequently, there is little in solutions as might have been hoped for, it is necessary the institutional culture of universities and other to draw on the history of South African HEIs’ response to tertiary institutions that encourages, or even faciliHIV/AIDS. tates, analysis or constructive critique of the institution itself. Any assessment of institutional responses to the threat of HIV/AIDS must therefore be cast The initial response by HEIs as a sector to the HIV/AIDS against this backdrop. With the emergence of pandemic was relatively slow. Martin and Alexander (2001), strategic planning over the past decade as a funin their essay on HIV/AIDS in South Africa’s HEIs, commentdamental tool for institutional development and management (Ekong & Plante 1996, Hayward & ed that “as with many other institutions (in South Africa) Ncayiyana 2003), internal resistance to institutional … the universities and technikons responded at tortoiseassessment has begun to erode. Tertiary institutions like speed … (with the exception of) the University of Cape are increasingly obliged to take stock of their performance, and to address the source of identified Town, which adopted a policy in 1993 that focused on the shortcomings. At the same time, perhaps rights and responsibilities of staff and stunot coincidentally, higher education man- Perhaps it was a failure dents, raised awareness and implemented agement has emerged as a new discipline to realise how or why for graduate study, fostering research on education and support programmes … (and) HIV/AIDS was relevant this topic by both students and academic the University of Stellenbosch, which introto HEIs that led to the staff. As a result, in-house issues, such as duced a more limited policy at the same time, learning performance, student financing, delayed response. [South African] universities did not respond budget effectiveness, graduate performance in the labour market, and many others have until 1999.” now become legitimate topics for academic inquiry … One topic, however, remains largely outside the Perhaps it was a failure to realise how or why HIV/AIDS was scope of concern in many tertiary institutions. That 2 topic is HIV/AIDS.” relevant to HEIs that led to the delayed response. Commenting on the initial failure of HEIs to respond to the HIV/ AIDS pandemic, the director of the Centre for the Study of
AIDS at the University of Pretoria, Mary Crewe (2000), noted that “… like business, despite the projections and
In order to demonstrate that national endeavors have
the warnings, [universities] did not until very recently
resulted in broad HIV/AIDS policy efforts and activities
imagine that AIDS was an issue that they needed to take
rather than sufficiently nuanced analysis, articulation and
seriously … [there are] many people in universities who
believe that the sexual behaviour of their students, their
universities in Africa. The case studies were summarised
colleagues and possibly even themselves is not relevant to
in a report by Kelly (2001) of the University of Zambia
the university role in preparing the next generation of law-
entitled Challenging the Challenger: Understanding and
yers, teachers, doctors, scientists, farmers and priests.”
Expanding the Response of Universities in Africa to HIV/
AIDS. Kelly commented on the slow response of HEIs themThere was global attention from external agencies on the
selves, stating, “The most striking feature of the university
impact of HIV/AIDS on HEIs between 1999 and 2000. In
response to HIV/AIDS is what can only be described as the
1999 the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)
awe-inspiring silence that surrounds the disease at institu-
organised jointly with the University of Natal a symposium
tional, academic and personal levels … Both individuals
entitled The Social Demographic Impact of HIV/AIDS:
and institutions conduct themselves as if the disease did not
Commonwealth Universities Respond. The ACU Lusaka report (2001) identified the following barriers to HEIs developing an appropriate response:
The most striking feature of the university response to HIV/ AIDS is what can only be described as the awe-inspiring silence that surrounds the
• L ack of high-level commitment • Lack of necessary structures for implementation
disease at institutional, academic and personal levels.
• Lack of empirical evidence of the scope and scale of the problem
exist.” This initial failure to respond was despite evidence from the case-studies suggesting that the university in Africa was a high-risk institution for the transmission of HIV.
In 2001, a workshop was held that was attended by senior representatives from
ten universities in Southern and Eastern Africa. “The workshop participants unanimously agreed that in the crisis
• Lack of resources (human and financial)
situation arising from HIV/AIDS universities … must con-
• Lack of buy-in from the campus community
tribute effectively to preventing the further spread of the
• Limited access to the academic curriculum.
epidemic and in managing its impacts … both within their
own institutions and within the society they serve.”5 The In 2001, the Working Group on Higher Education (WGHE)
participating universities indicated that they attached
of the Association for the Development of Education in
‘the highest priority’ to developing an appropriate in-
Africa (ADEA), a World Bank initiative, commissioned
stitutional response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic:
case studies on the impact of HIV/AIDS on individual
As responsible educators and researchers in their respective communities they recognised their responsibility to commit their intellectual resources and energies to reducing the spread of HIV infection, caring for the infected and affected, and providing support. They indicated their intention to develop policies and management structures that would take adequate account of HIV/AIDS; to mainstream HIV/AIDS perspectives into the professional training of all students at all levels; to engage in dialogue and outreach activities in their AIDS-affected communities and societies.6
• Many interventions operated in a once-off manner or defined HIV/AIDS solely as a health issue. Often responsibility for coordinating a response was delegated to a person or department which also had many existing responsibilities. • Networks and partnerships were poorly developed and maintained and many institutions worked in isolation. • Various issues, including rape, needed to be addressed more effectively. • Monitoring and evaluation of programmes needed to
Each of these identified barriers required specific analysis regarding what plan of action might remedy the situation and then a search for solutions in order to move forward.
Many institutions focused too heavily on policy to the exclusion
• Most institutions lacked the financial, human, material and intellectual resources to handle the epidemic effectively.7
of implementation. Also in 2001, the South African Vice Chan-
At the 2003 Conference of Rectors, Vice Chan-
cellors’ Association (SAUVCA) looked at South African HEI
cellors and Presidents (COREVIP), the African Association of
responses to HIV/AIDS and issued a report. Key findings
Universities (AAU) convened a meeting on Higher Edu-
cation Institutions and HIV/AIDS:
• Responses from the 21 universities surveyed were uneven and ad hoc. • The political climate surrounding HIV/AIDS was detrimental to the universities’ efforts. • M any institutions focused too heavily on policy to the exclusion of implementation [Emphasis mine].
From the discussion it was apparent that a number of universities, mostly Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, have institutional HIV/ AIDS policies in place [Emphasis mine]. A number of other institutions have initiated peer education, awareness campaigns, and condom distribution … It was generally agreed that despite these efforts, a lot more was needed from the universities to address HIV/AIDS …8
Following on from the SAUVCA 2000 research,9 where the
individual grants were awarded to enable institutions
recommendations were to develop a sector-wide response
to contribute funding to their own priority areas.
and to build capacity at national and institutional levels, a funding proposal was sent to the UK Department for
In 2002, Development Co-operation Ireland became a joint
International Development (DfID) to establish and build
funder, and working groups were established for peer
capacity to manage the impact at national and institu-
education, curriculum integration, and voluntary testing
tional levels.10 Approximately one million pounds was
and counselling. HEAIDS programme documentation states,
awarded between 2002 and 2005 and Higher Education
“At its inception, the HEAIDS programme was conscious
Against AIDS (HEAIDS) was established as “a nationally co-
of the need to respect a strong tradition of institutional
ordinated large-scale effort to develop and strengthen
autonomy in South Africa. It was neither appropriate nor
the capacity, systems and structures of all HEIs to prevent,
feasible to expect 36 widely disparate institutions to follow
manage, and mitigate the causes, challenges and consequences of HIV/AIDS in the sub-sector.”11 A partnership was established between the South African Department of Education, DfID, SAUVCA and the Committee of Technikon Principals.
At its inception, the HEAIDS programme was conscious of the need to respect a strong tradition of institutional autonomy in South Africa.
exactly the same template and achieve the same outputs … HEAIDS promoted the option of designing responses to HIV/AIDS that were specific to each institution but located within the broader framework. Flexibility and appropriateness were the
key principles.”12 The individual institutional grants were This philosophy resulted in different institutions being
approved and ranged from R150 000 to R350 000 (US$15 000
given individual institutional grants and a portion of fund-
to US$35 000) per institution.
ing allocated to national projects, including for working groups (regarding peer education and HIV testing) and
In 2002, HEAIDS commissioned an audit to assess “the
funds for an HIV audit. Despite controversy about the fact
range of services, activities and interventions in each of the
that different institutions were given varying grants based
35 Higher Education Institutions in South Africa against the
on National Department of Education subsidies, and the
programme framework and its indicators”.13 Important
number of previously disadvantaged students being
served at the HEI, there was a general satisfaction that
The HIV Stigma Project: Helen Aadnesgaard, Emily Allan, Kirsten Arendse, Michelle Aucamp, Kylie Ballantine, Frances Black, Paris Brummer; Fountain (installation), 2012. Water, glass jars, self-adhesive labels, ink. Photo: Paris Brummer. UCT students filled glass jars with water and arranged them in a series of circles. Each jar was labeled with name of an acquaintance within the group membersâ€™ social circles. A single smashed jar was placed in the centre of the artwork. The work attempts to visualise how stigma is experienced in social circles.
• A large number of HEIs had created a policy [Emphasis mine].
from management and human resources had received training and even fewer reported that union members
• Less than half of the HEIs had an HIV centre at their institution. Fourteen (out of 35) that did not have one
had received training. • Very few respondents believed there were sufficient financial and staff resources to offer onsite HIV/AIDS
did see the need for one. • Management of institutions’ HIV/AIDS response rested
mainly with institutional HIV/AIDS officers [known as
• Few policies contained clauses relating to inclusion of
IOs] who had to be appointed to manage individual
HIV/AIDS in the curriculum. Only one third of the insti-
DfID grants. “Unfortunately, many IOs also [held] other
tutions appear to have established a policy for infusing
positions, or [had] other duties and responsibilities, that
HIV/AIDS into the curriculum. Vice chancellors and insti-
compete[d] with their time and energy … In addition
tutional officers were asked to rank the most important programme components for future HEAIDS
many [were] not employed on a permanent basis, and 10 of these work[ed] only part time on the programme.” • A SWOT analysis of the institutions’ capacity to implement the programme revealed
Few policies contained
focus and the results showed overwhelming
clauses relating to
consensus for the first priority being integrat-
inclusion of HIV/AIDS in
ing HIV into the curriculum, followed by
prevention and support services. Very few
that insufficient committed funding, a lack of human resources and a lack of strategic planning and coordination were commonly mentioned as weaknesses.
lecturers had received capacity building to enable teaching on HIV-related materials. • [On a positive note] [m]ost HEIs distributed condoms. Some 26 had established voluntary counselling and test-
• Half of the HEIs had additional resources allocated to
ing (VCT) services. Many offered treatment of sexually
HIV/AIDS planning and activities (other than those of-
transmitted infections. Many offered peer education
fered by DfID/HEAIDS). However, less than half reported
programmes for students. Many reported that they
that HIV/AIDS featured in their current HEI plan.
offered treatment, care and support services to staff
• O nly nine HEIs had staff workplace programmes
and students either on site, off site or both. Most HEIs
focusing more on information than treatment, al-
had on-site clinic or health services.14
though ten reported their programmes were being developed. Only half indicated that representatives
From the results of the audit, it is clear that what was re-
would remain a barrier articulated in an audit with too
quired following the period between 1999 and 2003 was
broad a brushstroke for ‘lack of curriculum integration’
a consolidation of HIV/AIDS projects that were already in
place and activities to take these projects to an improved level in specifically defined areas. Using HIV/AIDS curricu-
Similarly, where peer education programmes were already
lum integration as an example, the discourse needed to
in place, specific monitoring goals could have been drawn
shift from whether HIV/AIDS should be included in curricu-
up that assessed the outcome of programmes in terms of
la in general to the specifics of a curriculum response.
contextual issues such as gender norms and HIV stigma. Where HIV testing programmes were already in place,
In 2012, we should understand results from analyses of different curriculum models relevant to differentiated disciplines. We need to move on to explore what types of curriculum models work best for whom in what setting, and what are the barriers to implementing curriculum programmes that have been evaluated as being effective. For example, if it was
what could have been assessed was the impact of such
We need to move on to explore what types of curriculum models work best for whom in what setting, and what are the barriers to implementing curriculum programmes that have been evaluated as being effective.
testing on prevention behaviour. With regards to workplace programmes, if nine were in place, with ten on the way, this could have been a key time to articulate what was working in terms of prevention, and assess and articulate the barriers to implementation.
articulated that there was difficulty in integrating HIV
By the end of 2005, HEAIDS had secured a partnership with
and AIDS into Engineering curricula due to Engineering
the European Union and the Department of Education
Departments working according to specifications from
for €20 million to support the HEAIDS Programme for
national or global engineering standards boards, and there
the period 2006 to 2007, for the set-up phase to end in
being insufficient time to cover core curricula with suf-
January 2008. (The date was ultimately re-negotiated to
ficient student through-put for local government funding
31 March 2010 for implementation.) Grants to a total value
formulae, then discussions could be held with Engineering
of R59,3 million were awarded to 21 institutions. It was
Boards to include relevant and appropriate HIV/AIDS
my impression again that institutions were pleased about
criteria, e.g. in health and safety courses, courses about staff
having individual grants because they could rank their
management, etc. Without adequate assessment this issue
priorities best. The remainder of the funding was spent
on national co-ordination projects for which tenders were
document research data in a standardised manner (To
put out. In a communication dated 22 January 2008, HEAIDS
the best of my knowledge this did not materialise.)
communicated the following regarding national tender
• The mapping and analysis of research data to make
projects that had been awarded:
recommendations on relevance and identified gaps (To the best of my knowledge, this did not materialise.)
• Development of an HIV policy framework for the sector with support to institutions in developing/refining institutional policies and implementation plans (R4.5 million)
• Good practice: HIV prevention strategies for HEIs in South Africa • A survey investigating the competency of graduates in relation to HIV in the workplace.16
• Design and development of a workplace programme for institutional staff (R4.3 million)
By the end of 2010 the following HEAIDS reports (laid out
• Development of funding models to ensure sustained intervention (R3 million) • Exploration and establishment of the roles of educators (including academic staff) in mitigating the impact of HIV (R3.2 million)
in the original communication about HEAIDS national
Institutions were pleased about having individual grants because they could
endeavours in 2008) were available:
• A report on the roles of educators (in-
rank their priorities best.
• Piloting of an HIV module at 23 teacher education faculties (R11.3 million) • Undertaking a sero-prevalence research study, KAPB and risk assessment of the higher-education sector (R26 million).
cluding academic staff and school teachers) in mitigating the impact of HIV
• The results of the sero-prevalence research study, KAPB and risk assessment of the HE sector • The development of an HIV policy and monitoring and evaluation framework for the sector • A sector HIV/AIDS needs/gap report (as to how the institutional policy differed from the national policy
The same communication stated that HEAIDS had “further successfully contracted the following areas of work”:
and framework) • The design of a workplace programme for institutional staff
• A sector HIV/AIDS needs/gap synthesis report •
The development of a standardised research data
• The development of funding models to ensure sustained intervention
tool for use by researchers at institutions to collect and
• The piloting of an HIV module at 23 teacher education
how well the principles of “flexibility and appropriateness”18 were adhered to.
faculties • A survey investigating the competency of graduates in relation to HIV in the workplace
Similar comments could be made about the project for
• Good practice: HIV prevention strategies for HEIs in
developing a workplace document which also cost several millions of rands. It was not clear that what work-
places lacked was a plan. If an analysis had been underAs part of this process, at the end of 2008, a national
taken at each institution and funding used to specifically
policy framework was developed under the direction of
overcome the barriers identified at particular institutions,
HEIADS. In addition, each institution received an individual
such an intervention may have been more useful.
institution needs/gap synthesis report, but only in so far as this pertained to individual institutional policies’ departure from the national framework with regard to policy, strategic plan, and monitoring and evaluation plans. With the 2004 audit having demonstrated that most higher education institutions already had a general HIV/
A useful endeavour may have been a survey regarding barriers to implementation of institutional policies within specific areas and specific problem solving around those barriers per institution.
In 2010, my staff and I conducted a rapid appraisal of higher education institutions’ use of national EU HEAIDS documents. There are obvious limitations to using this method since there may have been bias in the responses of institutional officers (IOs). Of the IOs who responded many had
AIDS policy, it is debatable whether it was necessary to
not used the policy framework or gap analyses given to
spend approximately R4.5 million on the development of
them. One participant articulated a general sentiment
an HIV policy framework for institutions to refine insti-
when she said that because of awarding national tenders
tutional policies and implementation plans. As mentioned,
to people who did not work in higher education and HIV
a useful endeavour may have been a survey regarding
and AIDS, a significant portion of time was spent by IOs in
barriers to implementation of institutional policies within
giving those awarded the tenders information that some
specific areas and specific problem solving around those
HEIs had been working on for years, and then correcting
barriers per institution. Institutions were only sent their
incorrect information in draft reports. This meant that
own gap analyses and it was impossible to assess overall
IOs did not have the time or inclination to re-read final
reports and to implement recommendations. Feedback
geographically not far from each other were unable to
was given that some of the reportâ€™s recommendations were
share data, nor to work out why there were differences
out of touch (e.g. in terms of recommendations that
between their sero-prevalence.
curriculum interventions should be funded by roughly R14 million per institution when some institutions were
What was positive about the national sero-prevalence
looking for national support of the view that HIV/AIDS
survey report was that a number of recommendations
curriculum integration should be taking place within
were made which broke down HIV/AIDS areas and articu-
roughly existing curriculum budgets).
lated them in sufficiently complex ways that suggested solutions. The report stated that the epidemic was hetero-
A comment made was that one report was written by an
geneous within and between institutions, so that no-one-
individual whose first language was not English. The IO was
size-fits-all solution could be crafted nationally. It pointed
asked to comment on the report content, but felt that he could not do so without first correcting the English, so he felt the report was not ultimately useful. Frustration was also reported with the gap analysis that articulated institutional policy goals on paper
It articulated that there was insufficient proof that large-scale testing drives affected HIV prevention.
out high-risk behaviour groups required targeting even within low prevalence institutions (such as men who have sex with men) and that education and communication needed to segment the audience.
without a sophisticated unpacking of the barriers to differ-
It articulated that there was insufficient proof that large-
ent HIV/AIDS implementation areas. Institutions raised
scale testing drives affected HIV prevention. Hence HIV
concerns around the implementation of the methodology
testing drives could not be the sole HIV prevention strate-
of the sero-prevalence survey by sub-contracted teams.
gy, even if relevant at country level. Testing drives were particularly not useful in low prevalence settings, although
In 2010 each higher education institution received an HIV
obviously more useful in high prevalence settings if fol-
sero-prevalence report which was not made available
lowed up by immediate treatment. The concern was
publicly (although a national report was made publicly
expressed that students might test and re-test while not
available). It was left up to each institution to make pub-
using condoms. (Just over half of students reported con-
licly available its own sero-prevalence data. This repre-
sistent condom use.) The report emphasised that what
sented a lost opportunity because institutions situated
was needed was not only treating HIV as a health issue
but also having a sharp focus on contextual issues such as
made between 1999 and 2012. It is not clear if institutions
poverty, diversity management, gender issues and HIV
have the resources and political will to implement their
stigma. The report demonstrated that the highest levels
policies so that they are aligned to the NSP.
of HIV infection were among administrative staff in the lowest pay classes at HEIs, and that there was an urgent
Critical steps forward would be articulating why HIV poli-
need for workplace programmes.
cies are or are not being implemented as effectively as possible in different areas such as the curriculum (and within
There has been no national funding available to HEIs to
different departments within different faculties), defining
implement these findings since the EU funding phase
the role of workplace programmes, conducting research
ended, even though the findings made considerable de-
into prevention behaviour among students, and establish-
mands of institutions.
ing social responsiveness programmes with communities
In 2011 and 2012, HEAIDS partnered with the Independent Medicines Board of South Africa (IMBSA), which funded mass HIV testing drives at most campuses. At the time of writing this, HEAIDS is due to
If HEAIDS programmes are to be improved, it is important that higher education institutions are able develop in these directions.
release an updated policy framework at the end of 2012
in an institution-specific, sophisticated way. If HEAIDS programmes are to be improved, it is important that higher education institutions are able to develop in these directions. We need to ask the correct questions and seek to answer
aligned to the South African National Strategic Plan (NSP). It is critical for HEIs to align with the NSP and HEI partici-
We hope that this collection of essays takes this process
pation in the NSP is welcomed. However, if institutions
have not sufficiently engaged with how to break down the concepts of the NSP into programmes (e.g. engaging with gender) or do not have the resources to implement pro-
grammes that engage with the concepts, updating it to include alignment with the NSP may still not achieve
1 The Social, Demographic and Development Impact of
measurable programme goals in different HIV/AIDS areas
AIDS: Commonwealth universities respond. Summary
at higher education institutions, and that reflect progress
documents. (1999). 2.
2 Saint, W. (2004). Crafting Institutional responses to HIV/
12 SAUVCA HEAIDS. (2005). Turning the Tide: A strategic
AIDS: Guidelines and resources for tertiary insti-
response to HIV and AIDS in South African higher
tutions in sub-Saharan Africa. Africa Region Human
Development Sector World Bank Working Paper Series, 4. 3 Crewe, M. (2000). A University Response to HIV/AIDS. AIDS Analysis Africa, 10(5): 11-12. 4 Katjavivi, P. & Otaala, B. (2003). African higher education institutions responding to the HIV/AIDS pandemic: Power Point presentation made to the AAU Conference of Rectors, Vice Chancellors and Presidents of African Universities (COREVIP), Mauritius, March 17-21.
13 HEAIDS. (2004). HIV and AIDS Audit: Interventions in South African higher education, iv. 14 Ibid, iv-xv. 15 HEAIDS. (2008). Circular to all VCs No: 3/2008. Reference: 16/1-3/2008. 22 January. 16 HEAIDS. (2008). Circular to all VCs No: 3/2008. Reference: 16/1-3/2008. 22 January. 17 HEAIDS. (2008). Circular to all VCs No: 3/2008. Reference: 16/1-3/2008. 22 January.
18 SAUVCA HEAIDS. (2005). Turning the Tide: A strategic
response to HIV and AIDS in South African higher
7 SAUVCA (2000) Institutionalizing the Response to HIV/
AIDS in the South African University Sector: A SAUVCA analysis. 8 Working Group on Higher Education (WGHE) of the
Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) (2006). Higher Education Institutions in Africa
Crewe, M. (2000). A University Response to HIV/AIDS.
Responding to HIV/AIDS, 36.
AIDS Analysis Africa, 10(5): 11-12.
9 SAUVCA HEAIDS. (2005). Turning the Tide: A strategic response to HIV and AIDS in South African higher
HEAIDS. (2008). Circular to all VCs No: 3/2008.
Reference: 16/1-3/2008. 22 January; SAUVCA HEAIDS.
(2005). Turning the Tide: A strategic response to HIV
11 Available at: www.hesa.org.za/heaids
and AIDS in South African higher education.
HEAIDS. (2004). HIV and AIDS audit: Interventions in South African higher education.
Katjavivi, P. & Otaala, B. (2003). African higher education institutions responding to the HIV/AIDS pandemic: PowerPoint presentation made to the AAU Conference of Rectors, Vice Chancellors and Presidents of African Universities (COREVIP), Mauritius, March 17-21.
Kelley, M.J. (2002). An education coalition against HIV/ AIDS. Paper presented at the National Conference on HIV/AIDS and the Education Sector. Lusaka: University of Zambia.
Kelley, M.J. (2001). Challenging the Challenger: Understanding and expanding the responses of universities in Africa to HIV/AIDS. Working Group on Higher Education, Association for the Development of Education in Africa, March.
Summary documents. (1999). The Social, Demographic and Development Impact of AIDS: Commonwealth universities respond. 8-9 November.
Working Group on Higher Education (WGHE) of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA). (2006). Higher Education Institutions in Africa Responding to HIV/AIDS.
LEFT: Herman Wald, The unknown miner, c 1958, cast 2011. Bronze. Collection of University of Witwatersrand. Photo: Sally Gaule.
RIGHT: Neels Coetzee, Skull series, 1986. Bronze. Collection of University of Cape Town. Photo: Katherine Traut.
Gavin Younge, From Hoerikwagga, 1984. Steel, zinc and enamel paint. Collection of University of Cape Town. Photo: Katherine Traut.
Hypocrisy, HIV and higher education: An ‘institutional integrity’ hypothesis Pierre Brouard
and informal centres through which school children and out-of-school youth could be engaged for spiritual growth
As HIV peaks in South Africa, calls continue for moral
and development by means of practical programmes.
regeneration as a core response to social challenges in
These could include spiritual music, indigenous games,
general, and to our HIV epidemics in particular.
cultural and other creative activities”.
On 23 February 2011, sixteen women from several Cape
South Africa has a Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM),
Town townships were reported to have presented at the
which had its roots in a meeting between former president
office of the chief whip of the African National Congress
Nelson Mandela and religious leaders in 1997. The current
(ANC) in Parliament, Dr Mathole Motshekga, to appeal for
South African president, Jacob Zuma, drove the MRM’s
the intercession and intervention of the ANC in the deep-
establishment from 2002/3. The movement set up struc-
ening ‘moral degeneration’ in the townships of Cape
tures in all nine provinces, initially focused on marketing
Town.1 The women referred specifically to reports of chil-
and awareness strategies. It then began to promote “posi-
dren taking drugs and visiting shebeens and taverns.
tive values and keep audits of moral regeneration pro-
Writing in ANC Today in March 2011, Dr Motshekga, per-
grammes”.3 In 2008 there was a focus on the adoption of
haps partly at least in response to these concerned mothers,
the Charter of Positive Values, together with community
said, “There is an urgent and great need to occupy chil-
dialogue, endorsements of its work, and marketing.
dren and the youth after school and over the weekends through establishment of cultural centres in townships
Writing in Business Report in March 2010, Nawaal Dreyer
mature citizens, these societal institutions should work
noted that the MRM had almost nothing to show for the
together for the provision of moral education”.5
R22 million that government had spent on it. Dreyer wrote “Parliament’s Arts and Culture portfolio committee heard
A Bill of Responsibilities for the Youth of South Africa was
on Wednesday that in the body’s seven years of existence,
launched by the Department of Education in 2011. The
its books had never been audited and that even the
Bill exhorts young people to respect a range of rights in
Department of Arts and Culture – which is meant to over-
South Africa. Notable for its absence in the call for young
see the initiative – is not sure what impact it has had on
people to respect the right to equality is any mention of
moral issues in South Africa.”4
sexual orientation. And Lead SA, an initiative including The Star, Pretoria News, Radio 702 and Radio 94.7, states:
Clearly, asking the populace to become more moral is no simple, or cheap, matter. This has not prevented faith leaders, politicians, cultural guardians and educators from urging South Africans to become more moral – to address, among others, teenage pregnancy, multiple
“You can change the world. Lead SA is a personal call
Clearly, asking the populace to become more moral is no simple, or cheap, matter.
sexual partnering, drug and alcohol abuse, school truancy,
to every person to make a difference. You choose how. We all have a responsibility to make the world a better place. It could be as simple as smiling at a stranger or as big as fighting to further the rights entrenched in
our Constitution. Each act makes a difference.”6
HIV, gangsterism and sex work. While some of those making such pleas for greater public morality recognise
The calls for moral regeneration are predicated on the
the deeply historical, social and structural roots of these
idea that faced with the onslaught of messaging about
phenomena, most calls for a return to morality pose in-
decency, children, adolescents (and ultimately adults) will
culcation by parents, faith leaders, educators and role
do the right thing and choose, as rational individuals, to
models in values which are based on decency, faith, tradi-
become better persons.
tion, and indeed ubuntu, as the key vehicle for this return. In a review of ‘moral degeneration’ in South African
This essay argues that such approaches, while often
schools for example, Bayaga and Jaysveree assert that
well meaning, are flawed. It seeks to explain why these
“values need to be instilled in learners by parents, teachers,
approaches are defective. Finally, it proposes the con-
the state and the church … in order to produce morally
cept of social or institutional integrity as an alternative
approach â€“ using HIV in the tertiary context to illustrate
As noted above, although non-discrimination on the basis
of sexual orientation is one of the rights entrenched in the South African Bill of Rights, it has been omitted from the suggested bill of responsibilities for young people.
WHY ARE THESE APPROACHES FLAWED?
The omission suggests that the morality of same-sex sexuality is contested, even though the South African
My first objection to the concept of moral regeneration
Constitution guarantees equality in terms of sexual orien-
is that morality as a concept is complex and contested.
tation. Sexual orientation clearly poses a problem for the
Morality speaks of a system of behaviour with regard to
standards of right or wrong. It is linked to notions of moral standards (of behaviour), moral responsibility (referring to conscience) and moral identity (being capable of right or wrong action).7 But agreement is lacking on what standards can be applied, how responsibility is measured and indeed how we develop, and can justify, our personal moral identities. Our history as a country
When the purveyors of messages on morality themselves do not stand up to close ethical scrutiny, cynicism and disbelief contribute to suspicion about the notion of morality.
When the purveyors of messages on morality themselves do not stand up to close ethical scrutiny, cynicism and disbelief contribute to suspicion about the notion of morality. When fundamentalist preachers are caught in the very secret homosexual acts they decry, and the Catholic Church finds itself accused of cover ups
is replete with anecdotes of the use of religious injunc-
about clergy engaged in paedophilia and abusive be-
tions to support apartheid, and beliefs in the different
haviour, it becomes clear that there is often a large gap
moral capacities of citizens. Morality has been used to
between thought and action.
justify slavery, racism, war, sexism, oppression of sexual minorities, honour killings, female genital mutilation and
In South Africa, it is ironic that the leading light in the
virginity testing. But whose morality is seen as correct?
MRM, President Zuma, has himself been in the spotlight
And which belief in a supreme being or beings is used
for his personal sexual conduct. While his polygamy finds
to justify morality (as such a belief is often regarded as
its roots in his traditional beliefs, protected under the
the primary basis for morality)?
Constitution, the conduct that was revealed in his trial for rape showed perhaps that morality is both deeply
personal and yet at the same time of public interest and
strategy not work – today there is tacit acceptance that
concern. The recent case of a politician, who had exhorted
one should work with and not against the affected – but
young people to abstain from sex and to be faithful, in
it contributed to stigma which easily and quickly attached
order to thwart HIV transmission, and yet was revealed to
itself to others (even to the ‘innocent’) and also to an on-
have been less than faithful to his wife in a public scandal,
going discourse and fantasy around lost or past morality
is instructive. As Minister Fikile Mbalula told a World AIDS
to which society should return.
Day gathering in December 2011, “Idle minds breed evil ideas. We want to keep the youth busy with sport so that
This leads me to my second objection to current moral
there is no time for these evil ideas.”8
approaches: that they are often based on notions of moral panic and anxiety which suggest that sexual abandon is
Furthermore, when calls are made for individuals to be moral (particularly moral regarding sexual conduct, criminality and community ills), in the face of the questionable morality of the state, when its institutions and its economic policies seem not to recognise vast and growing societal inequalities, amid
widespread and novel. HIV has particularly unleashed
Moral approaches are often based on notions of moral panic and anxiety which suggest that sexual abandon is widespread and novel.
concerns about corruption, political infighting and per-
such moral panics – and attempts to control human sexuality (and therefore HIV, given that most HIV transmission occurs through sex). Moral crusades and appeals to our values have dominated, or certainly co-existed with other, more
sonal enrichment, then questions need to be asked about the morality of our various social institutions. More of this
One classic example, which is really an example of morality
later, when I address the question of institutional integrity.
cloaked in public-health rhetoric, is that of abstinence-only sexual health and HIV programmes for young people.
Of course, the history of the HIV epidemic is one which
Many of these were funded by the PEPFAR fund of United
tells a story of how the first affected groups, which were
States President George Bush, which prohibited any HIV
deemed less than moral in their behaviour (gay men, men
prevention programmes for young people other than
who have sex with men, sex workers and intravenous drug
abstinence-only programmes, and did not support any
users), were easily blamed for their infection, marginalised,
work which was linked to termination of pregnancy. This
and excluded from prevention and care. Not only did this
far-reaching funding regimen probably put millions of
young people at risk for HIV and many young women
hegemonic or dominant masculinity and the recognition
at risk for unwanted pregnancy. One report released in
of alternative masculinities (and femininities); a critique
2009 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United
of gender roles; the recognition of the rights of people
States found that teenage pregnancies and the incidence
who are transgendered or intersexed; the recognition of
of syphilis among a generation of American school girls who
female desire and agency in sexual matters; a reclaiming
were urged to avoid sex before marriage had risen sharply.
of pleasure in HIV campaigns, challenging fear-based strategies; a new identity politics where there has emerged
The CDC said that southern states in the US, where there
a tension between identity and practice, as exemplified
was often the greatest emphasis on sexual abstinence and
in the label MSM (men who have sex with men); the view
religion, tended to have the highest rates of teenage
that identities over a lifetime (man, woman, heterosexual,
pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. However, as
homosexual, African) might be fluid, changing and context
scientific analyses of the official policies
Uncertainty, the rise of moral
came to be published, this policy he-
relativism and sweeping socio-
gemony was challenged. Not only were
political changes in the 20th and
young people put at risk by the absti-
21st centuries have induced fear
nence policy, but as Schalet has noted,
and contributed to moral panics.
the abstinence-only-until-marriage para-
driven; an explosion of technology-driven sexual possibilities; sexual activism regarding sex work and other sexual cultures; and clashes between tradition and modernity.
digm, along with the sex-as-risk paradigm, â€œgive us only
Is it surprising that in the light of these unsettling develop-
limited tools to conceptualise and promote positive
ments, many guardians of religion, culture and the status
adolescent sexual development and relationships.â€?
quo have argued for a return to traditional morality?
Uncertainty, the rise of moral relativism and sweeping
As a third objection to morality-based approaches, I would
socio-political changes in the 20 and 21 centuries have
argue that not only do the developments listed above
induced fear and contributed to moral panics. Some of
provoke anxiety about change, but they also reflect our
these challenges and changes include the rise of gay and
discomfort with human sexuality, informed by a distor-
lesbian rights (including in South Africa the right of gay
tion or dismissal of science and a disregard for history and
men and lesbians to marriage and adoption); challenges
to heteronormativity; discourses around alternatives to
Bonita Alice, Standing female nude and Standing male figure, 1988. Cement fondue and oil paint. UNISA Art Collection. Photos: Izelle Jacobs.
In looking back at how sexuality was framed and managed
McLaren concludes his review of the last century by sug-
in the 20th century, McLaren10 suggests four narratives
gesting that our belief that sex has now become a private
which challenge common views that modern sexuality
matter between consenting adults of different back-
is unbridled and unique. Firstly, human sexuality is both
grounds, persuasions or gender variations is a myth. In fact,
constant and changing, and concerns about moral decline
he says, “sex was not a natural act. It was shaped and
have marked each successive generation of the 20th cen-
regulated. Stories played a key role in constructing sexual-
tury. Secondly, certainties about gender roles are under-
ity in the 20th century and one can be confident that in
mined by the fact that in more western societies, there
the 21st century, Western culture will still not have finished
has been an erosion of class and gender differences. As
with accounts of its panics and pleasures”.11
one commentator noted: “The enormous class differentials that once set off the marriage, fertility and mortality patterns of the upper and middle classes, had been gradually diminished.” Thirdly, the unprecedented advance (albeit contested) in the rights of gay and lesbian people, and those with discordant gender identities or alternative gender presenta-
Implied in McLaren’s review is the notion of social and
Human sexuality is both constant and changing, and concerns about moral decline have marked each successive generation of the 20th century.
medical science as a source of new and renewed insights into human sexual conduct, where moral gatekeepers are willing to engage with such science. So Klein,12 for example, has reflected recently how science has exposed a number of myths
tions has created both freedom and resistance, shining a
regarding sexuality which persist. These include myths
light on identity-practice splits, on western versus African
about the dangers of pornography, sex clubs, sexuality
perspectives in understanding human sexuality, and, im-
education for the young and sexual predators on the
portantly, on the idea that sexuality does not occur in a
Internet, and their alleged implications for moral decline.
vacuum, but is shaped by social, cultural, economic and
While research does not support the view that these
political contexts. And fourthly the separation of sex and
phenomena contribute to social and moral decay, and
procreation has led to an emphasis on sexual pleasure as
shows that fears about the phenomena are exaggerated,
a legitimate goal in itself. The mental health benefits of
the view of moral decline persists.
sexual pleasure have been increasingly stressed and indeed a lack of sex, or an absence of sexual desire, is now
An explanation for such moral panic is to suggest, as my
regarded increasingly as unusual and unhealthy.
fourth objection to morality-based approaches, that not
only are we are uncomfortable with sexuality, but we
South Africa is no exception. In April 2012 the Teddy
are uncomfortable with the sexuality of young people,
Bear Clinic and Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child
especially adolescents and students in tertiary contexts.
Abuse and Neglect (RAPCAN) applied in the North Gau-
And what is our response? Curtailment, promotion of
teng High Court to declare certain sections of the Sexual
abstinence and fidelity, and withholding of sexual in-
Offences Act of 2007, which deals with consensual sex
formation from the young â€“ in other words, regulation.
(statutory rape) and acts of consensual violation (statutory
The emerging sexuality of young people has always vexed
sexual violation) between children aged 12 to 16 years un-
adults, despite the fact that we know most young people
constitutional.15 The non-profit organisations, supported
begin to experiment sexually in their teenage years,14 in
by the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria,
spite of moral and other injunctions not to do so.
challenged the sections of the Act related to reporting
A review of the literature of anthropology, sociology and cultural studies will show that in most societies, young people experiment with sex in contradiction of the expressed moral codes of their parents, their parents have themselves previously broken the same moral codes and those
Most societies have developed elaborate and coded ways of talking about sex and sexuality as attempts to protect dignity, avoid embarrassment and limit sexual practice.
sexual activities between teenagers and the registration of childrenâ€™s names on the National Sex Offenders Register if convicted of statutory rape. The Act criminalises consensual sex between children aged 12 to 16 years, and even criminalises activities such as kissing. Any person such as a teacher or counsellor, who does not report such
very same young people have become parents who at-
activities to the police, can be sentenced to prison. The non-
tempted to limit their own children to the moral codes they
profit organisations maintained that the Act could have
themselves did not then, and do not now, honour. And
serious consequences for children, such as denying children
most societies have developed elaborate and coded ways
access to support and health care services when needed
of talking about sex and sexuality as attempts to protect
and humiliating them by exposing them to the criminal
dignity, avoid embarrassment and limit sexual practice.
justice system and the risk of having their names listed in
They have also tried to use the law to limit sexual ex-
the Sex Offendersâ€™ Register. The organisations believed
that rather than criminalising sexual behaviour a less harmful route should be followed by engaging children at a level of dialogue they could understand about
appropriate sexual expression, and increasing the range
My fifth objection to morality-informed approaches to
of sexual education available to them.
HIV and sexuality is that they are based on an individualistic approach to human conduct, especially sexual conduct.
has proposed a new alphabet for a positive
For too long our HIV prevention efforts have been indi-
approach to adolescent sexuality, ABCD. The A refers to
vidualistic and rational in approach, exemplified by the
building autonomy in young people through teaching
ABC campaign. Prevention has been predicated on the
them skills and helping them understand pleasure and
idea that if we appeal to an individual’s intellect, logical
desire, as well as boundaries. The B suggests we should
thinking and good intentions, then they will ‘do the right
help young people build good romantic relationships
thing’, i.e. be moral.
based on mutuality, trust and equality. The C recommends that healthy connections between young people and their parents/caregivers are protective, and the D recognises not only that young people are diverse, but also that the disparities in socio-economic conditions and access to resources need to be addressed in order to empower young people.
In fact we now believe that a web of social and structural
Morality-informed approaches to HIV and sexuality are based on an individualistic approach to human conduct, especially sexual conduct.
factors interacts in complex ways with an individual’s needs, motivations, skills, knowledge and intentions to affect the sexual and other choices that an individual makes. Social factors might be the norms, values, beliefs, attitudes and expectations
of our social milieu which we unconsciously internalise Notwithstanding more progressive approaches, the one
as we grow up and become social actors. Structural factors
constant about human sexuality is that sexual practice
would include access to services; the strength of health
has always been varied, it has always been unsuccessfully
and other systems; legal and policy frameworks which set
regulated, it has been understood and shaped by prevail-
out the responsibilities of the state and other actors; access
ing norms and contexts and, when it strays from the norm,
to education, housing, transport and employment; and
it has always incurred the judgment and wrath of those in
economic policies which include or exclude citizens from
power, whether politicians, prelates, public health experts
reasonable access to economic independence. All of these
– sometimes called social drivers – work together to make it more or less possible for an individual or a couple to practise safer sex. We have been, for too long, obsessed with
sex as behaviour (the physical acts we do and the mechanics
moralising about individual conduct. But if we accept that
of protection attached to them) rather than focusing on
individual behaviour is profoundly influenced by the social
sex as practice â€“ the sum of the meanings two individuals
and structural milieu, would our institutions stand up to
bring to their encounter or encounters, in a social context.
the same scrutiny? Is there honesty, sincerity, fairness, ethics, reliability and justice in government, in the corporate world,
A sixth objection to morality-informed approaches is that
in our religious institutions, in our media, and in schools
by focusing on individual morality, we ignore hypocrisy and
the lack of integrity in society in general, but in tertiary institutions in particular. So when tertiary institutions fail to transform in terms of race, language and access to
SO WHAT ARE THE SPECIAL CHALLENGES
power; do not address gender inequalities and run along
FACED BY YOUNG PEOPLE AT UNIVERSITIES?
unquestioned patriarchal fault lines; become sites of nepotism, greed and empire building; perpetuate practices in residences which feed into sexual and gender stereotypes; ignore the needs of communities from which they
We ignore hypocrisy and the lack of integrity in society in general, but in tertiary institutions
draw their students and on which students
Many students are in late adolescence and early adulthood and this may be accompanied by physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual changes which can be overwhelming. This is a time when young people ex-
practise their emerging skills; and fail to grapple with the
periment with sexual practices and identities â€“ in some
social challenges in the broader society, then it can be ar-
cases this experimentation has already started as students
gued that their appeals to individual (sexual) morality are
bring with them ideas and practices from their social milieu.
a diversionary tactic and represent an ethical failure.
Evidence from formal and informal surveys and work done at campus health services suggests that unprotected sex
I would argue that the concept of integrity has been most
forcefully applied to individuals. The history of the HIV epidemic reveals to us just how frail we are â€“ silences, secrecies,
Many students report that their conservative beliefs, and
infidelities, temptations, indiscretions are often unveiled
those of their parents and of their institutions, prevent
in the light of an HIV diagnosis. One of the consequences
them from finding out about sex and sexuality, leaving
of this is that we have easily slipped into blaming and
them vulnerable when they are in sexual contexts. For
many students university life provides their first taste of
to have sex, and to have unprotected sex. Most do not
freedom and independence and they cannot always cope
know how to resist these pressures. This is not to deny
with this new-found liberation. Alcohol and drugs are used
that female agency and desire are absent, but simply to
by students for recreation and to cope with the stresses
state that gender norms and fault lines are deeply en-
and strains of life – in some cases this leads to binge drink-
ing. There are reports that some women students face peer pressure to drink – date rape (both alcohol- and drug-
Students are often linked to a wide range of sexual net-
related) is a possible consequence.
works, which may overlap with university and community networks, and which could have varying levels of HIV
Students often display a sense of invulnerability and om-
prevalence. It is known that sex with multiple, concurrent
nipotence, focussing more on future dreams than on pre-
partners (where there is unprotected sex) increase a per-
sent risks. This is compounded, certainly in the more privileged universities, by the belief that because tertiary students are the ‘cream of the crop’, they will not contract HIV, since HIV infection is seen as a disease of poverty, poor education and limited
Students often display a sense of invulnerability and omnipotence, focussing more on future dreams than on present risks.
son’s risk of contracting HIV.
Same sex practice and identity is widely ignored in the tertiary sector. Institutions often struggle to recognise and support student-led lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgen-
access to resources. There is a need, especially for those
dered and intersex (LGBTI) organisations, leaving young
from more humble backgrounds, to fit into a sophisticat-
LGBTI people without resources and information.
ed, brand-conscious culture, and find ready cash to spend. Most young people are financially dependent on others
Residences are often deeply hierarchical. They may per-
and some students struggle financially.
petuate conservative views on sex, sexuality and sexual identity. They may also buttress patriarchal notions of gen-
Some women students may be involved in transactional
der. In addition, they may value conformity over challenge
relationships with older men who buttress their financial
– perpetuating a culture of obedience and subordination
position. These may place women in a position of negotiat-
to higher authority, rather than developing agency and
ing disadvantage – and even in relationships with peers,
many female students report pressure from male partners
Gavin Younge, Life cycle, 2004. Stainless steel. Collection of Rhodes University. Photo: Sara Garrun.
At some of the less transformed universities, black students
areas which are not always safe, making them vulner-
report widely that there is racism on campuses and in resi-
able to assault and rape; and many stay in overcrowded
dences – and some white students express concerns about
apartments where there may be sex in communal spaces,
the loss of language and culture. These issues suggest
or forced/coerced sex.
that diversity and difference are not being well handled. Students living with HIV may not be sure how fellow students, academics and support staff will cope with HIV dis-
WHAT CAN THE CONCEPT OF INSTITUTIONAL INTEGRITY OFFER?
closure. Some universities do not seem to have a thoughtful, conscious and comprehensive strategy to deal with
This essay argues that rather than focus on the personal
issues of race, difference and integration, and even where
morality of students, inviting them to choose rationally to
there are policies they are subject to criticism from all
act in accordance with what is assumed to be a shared
Some students report that because there is considerable prestige attached to being a university student they face overwhelming external and internal pressures to succeed
Students living with HIV may not be sure how fellow students, academics and support staff will cope with HIV disclosure.
and thrive, and to deny vulnerability – leaving them vul-
moral code, universities should revisit their institutional ethos and practice, so that they acknowledge and respond to the realities of student, staff and community contexts and create an institutional culture which has integrity and which models values to
which all can aspire.
nerable to stress and unable to say they are not coping. Many students also do not know where to go for help.
Of course, society as a whole should aspire to integrity
Some students struggle to make the academic transition
but universities, as mirrors of the broader society, and as
from school to university, even when they have done well
places of ideas, practices and norm building, should them-
at school, and they experience stress as a result of this
selves exhibit particular integrity.
difficult shift. Integrity18 comes from the Greek word integra, meaning Where students, especially black students, have difficulty
whole. Integrity could be said to be a guiding principle,
in finding accommodation, there are at least two pos-
affecting all aspect of one’s life. At the individual level, it has
sible consequences: many are forced to live in inner city
been described as part of one’s belief system – influencing
what one does without faltering, no matter how risky
Oregon State University defines its institutional integrity
the decision, no matter how unpopular the decision makes
as one in which “The University accurately represents it-
the person appear to others. It could include sincerity,
self to students, staff, and faculty, and externally to govern-
keeping one’s word and agreements, honesty, truthfulness,
ment and regulatory agencies, accrediting bodies, and
a sense of ethics, fairness and justice.
the public”.20 Its commitment to integrity is reflected in its mission statement which cites truth, accountability and
Universities have long grappled with this concept. Iowa
responsibility as essential values. And it measures and main-
State University in the US, for example, has this to say: “The
tains this integrity through an organisational framework
overall reputation of the institution is of critical impor-
which guides, among others, ethical standards, conflicts of
tance to Iowa State University leaders. Faithful pursuit of
interest, academic freedom and public communication.21
the institutional mission, compliance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations, and responsiveness to the needs of students, faculty, staff, and other constituents are top priorities of the administration. Academic administrators work closely with faculty to maintain and enhance academic quality
At the individual level, integrity has been described as part of one’s belief system – influencing what one does without faltering, no matter how risky the decision, no matter how unpopular the decision makes the person appear to others.
And Mott Community College in the US, in its Institutional Integrity Subcommittee Report, 22 focuses on six general categories of internal practices and relationships (college communication, policies and procedures, internal conflict resolution, diversity, college
while seeking to embrace best practices in institutional
finances and governance) and six external practices and
policies and procedures, acutely aware of their respon-
relationships (legal authorisation to grant degrees, public
sibility to the public. University personnel administer cur-
information, hiring procedures and practices, student ser-
ricular and co-curricular programs, including extension
vices and financial aid, relationships with other institutions
and auxiliary activities, [which aim to be] in the best inter-
and organisations, and college athletics) as measures of
est of the constituencies that they serve … Iowa State
upholds and protects its integrity while always looking for areas to improve overall institutional effectiveness.”19
These are valuable and interesting examples of how tertiary institutions grapple with the concept of integrity. Perhaps the most useful approach, which offers a broader
model against which these practices can be reviewed, is
define moral boundaries and may include policing or
offered by Grebe and Woermann23 in a paper which ex-
auditing agencies and oversight mechanisms (where or-
plores a conceptual framework for thinking about integrity
ganisations are concerned) and, by extrapolation, faith,
in developmental contexts, not only at the level of indi-
cultural and other moral guidance institutions which at-
vidual behaviour but also at the level of institutions which
tempt to provide a moral or ethical framework, where
embody social norms.
individuals are concerned.
Their key insight, they suggest, is that in thinking about
But all this comes to naught, they argue, if institutions,
“ethical leadership and developmental integrity, it is im-
including institutions of integrity, do not themselves func-
portant not to simply focus on codes of conduct, individual
tion in a way which has integrity. An institution has integ-
behaviour and enforcement mechanisms … rather, ethical
rity, it is suggested, if it is robust and legitimate and fit
leadership and developmental integrity in practice is a function of the more complex interaction of individual integrity, the institutions of integrity and the integrity of institutions.”
There needs to be internal consistency in an institution’s functioning, and external consistency in its relationships with the world around it.
for its purpose.
All three aspects work together to reflect the complex interplay of factors which produce and support integrity. Possible indicators could be: the appropriate mobi-
They talk of individual integrity as the traditional under-
lisation of people and resources for common and agreed-
standing of integrity in terms of honesty, appropriate be-
upon goals; institutional stewardship which fosters appro-
haviour (doing the right thing), and consistency between
priate individual and institutional behaviours; and con-
words and actions. Individual agency does matter, even if
gruence, as measured by appropriate and agreed-upon
it is constrained by social and structural forces and even
rules which govern institutional culture and the acting
though it may be informed by conflicting ideas of what the
out and respect of these rules by individuals and the
‘right thing’ is.
organisation. So there needs to be internal consistency in an institution’s functioning, and external consistency
But individual integrity, Grebe and Woermann argue, is
in its relationships with the world around it, based on
shaped and ‘bound’ by institutions of integrity (through
agreed values which benefit all, managed by a system
formal and informal codes of behaviour) – such institutions
which is fair and reflexive.
In the context of HIV, in tertiary institutions, this princi-
• Is there integrity when there is evidence that open sex
ple goes beyond HIV/AIDS policies and programmes,
education and a positive-sexuality approach makes a
and adopting values of non-discrimination towards in-
difference, and yet we ignore this and use coded lan-
fected and affected staff. Rather, it suggests that the
guage and moralistic approaches?
total institution itself needs to have integrity and to
• Is there integrity when we promote one form of moral-
operate in ways which not only acknowledge and act
ity over another – and offer mixed messages about our
on risks to staff and students, but also to operationalise
values which promote fairness, equity and opportunity for all, as a model of a good ‘institutional citizen’.
• Is there integrity when students engage in transactional sex and we ignore their needs – and do not address poverty, consumerism and inequality?
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR HIV IN A TERTIARY CONTEXT? To answer this question, I pose a number of questions – suggesting, if you like, a set of indicators – which ask us about institutional integrity and point to what I call ‘a
The total institution itself needs to have integrity and to operate in ways which not only acknowledge and act on risks to staff and students, but also to operationalise values.
• Is there integrity when we teach students about intergenerational sex, but ignore evidence that some lecturers may be having inappropriate sexual relationships with students? • Is there integrity when we refuse to offer sexually transmitted infection services at our institutions and yet we know they
whole institution approach’ to HIV and AIDS – one which
are an important aspect of sexual health?
addresses the needs of students and staff and explores
• Is there integrity when we know about complex sexual
whether this is an honest, fair and just place to work
networks but refuse to conduct research into them or
and study. These indicators could include the following:
to understand them? • Is there integrity when we deny LGBTI groups the op-
• Is there integrity when we promote abstinence ap-
portunity to meet and organise?
proaches to student sexualities (including refusing to
• Is there integrity when we know that students face
provide condoms in residences), when there is no evi-
problems with drugs and alcohol and yet we do not
dence that abstinence works?
address these problems? On the contrary, we may offer venues where students are able to drink alcohol at
reduced prices, often with the collusion of corporates
• Is there integrity when we fail to develop a generation of academics and students who can offer intellectual,
which provide the alcohol? • Is there integrity when our institutions do not reflect
social and personal leadership on HIV and AIDS?
the rich diversity of role modelling for our students?
• And is there integrity when we fail to respond to the
• Is there integrity when gender equity is not openly dis-
needs of the broader society (and local communities)
cussed and addressed, and institutions are male domi-
through our teaching, research and outreach?
nated? • Is there integrity when we promote free thinking, creativity and autonomy, and yet residence students are
infantilised through initiation ceremonies, and sexual South Africa has had a divided and difficult past, and all
and gender stereotypes are not challenged? • Is there integrity when we fail to provide students with spaces to interrogate their identities? • Is there integrity when we promote individual approaches to sexual behaviour change, even though we know how social
Is there integrity when our institutions do not reflect the rich diversity of role modelling for our students?
and structural forces operate?
institutions, public and private, grapple with ways to overcome the past and to build a society which is fair, equitable and transparent to all its citizens. One response to the uncertainties of modern life, in the face of our past, is to return to a fantasy that a shared
older morality will provide a stabilising force. In the light
• Is there integrity when we offer primarily biomedical
of our deeply entrenched HIV epidemic, personal morality
interventions when we know that the social milieu is
regarding sexual conduct has come under the spotlight,
powerful, and we do not conduct research into the
and calls for individuals to make good and moral choices
medical and social drivers, and consequences, of HIV
have swelled into a chorus.
and AIDS? • Is there integrity when we fail to address discrimination, such as racism and HIV-related stigma?
The tertiary sector is no exception: many of the interventions around HIV are overly public health in their focus,
• Is there integrity when we fail to prepare students to be
informed by a poor understanding of the complexities
critical, involved leaders who interrogate democracy
of behaviour change, and reflect a subtle and insidious
and freedom and participate in debate and change?
moralism. Until these institutions come to terms with
their past, and find ways to become ‘institutions of integrity’, where fairness, justice, opportunity and equity prevail, it is hypocritical to ask students and staff to be more moral. A re-examination of institutional integrity can provide a new lens through which the systems and structure of a university can provide an ethical enabling space for individuals to make better and more thoughtful choices.
10 McLaren, A. (1999). Twentieth-century Sexuality: A history. Blackwell Publishers. 11 McLaren, A. (1999). Twentieth-century Sexuality: A history. Blackwell Publishers. 223. 12 www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-marty-klein/want-toundermine-science_b_1464379.html 13 Szabo, C. (2009). Adolescent sexuality: Beyond controversy. Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health. 18:1 iii-iv.
14 Massaut, S. (2004). Young and Sexual. An exploration of young people’s sexuality and their sexual devel-
1 Andile Ncontsa, writing on moral regeneration for an online publication called NGO Pulse at www.ngopulse. org/category/tags/moral-regeneration 2 ANC Today 11(8), 4-10 March 2011. 3 www.ngopulse.org/category/tags/moral-regeneration
opment. Youth Incentives. 15 www.citizen.co.za/citizen/content/en/citizen/localnews?oid=273885&sn=Detail&pid=800&Court-challenged-on-Sexual-Offences-Act16 Schalet, A.T. (2011). Beyond abstinence and risk: A new
paradigm for adolescent sexual health. Women’s Health
5 Bayaga, A & Jaysveree, L. (2011). Moral degeneration:
Issues 21-35, S5-S7.
Crisis in South African schools? Journal of Social Science, 28(3): 199-210.
17 See for example the KABP survey conducted by HEAIDS in the tertiary sector in 2008/9.
8 www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Minister-in-sexscandal-20111030 9 Schalet, A.T. (2011). Beyond abstinence and risk: A new
htm 20 http://oregonstate.edu/accreditation/self-study/9. 0InstitutionalIntegrity.pdf
paradigm for adolescent sexual health. Women’s Health
Issues 21-35, S5-S7.
23 Grebe, E. & Woermann, M. (2011). Institutions of integrity and the integrity of institutions: Integrity and ethics in the politics of developmental leadership. Research
Angus Taylor, UP centenary sculptures, 2008. Bronze and Belfast granite. Collection of University of Pretoria. Photo: EYEscape.
Paper 15. Developmental Leadership Program. 24 Ibid. 3.
Arend Eloff, Steenbok, 1991. Bronze. Collection of University of Pretoria. Photo: EYEscape.
Bland management Mary Crewe
The university should provide an ideal space in which to
It is astounding that South African universities have not
do HIV and AIDS work â€“ for the university campus is in
embraced HIV and AIDS with greater passion and intellec-
the main a microcosm of the larger society, and deals
tual rigor. The epidemics and the social and medical issues
with similar kinds of issues. The university is confronted
that accompany them are an astonishing opportunity for
with poverty, racism, patriarchy, sexual relations, sexual
research, for teaching, for community engagement and
identities, and transactional and transgender sex. It is con-
for thinking about the future of the university institution
cerned with the education and the well-being of its staff
and of the country. HIV and AIDS, one of the most intrigu-
and students. The institution houses many of its students
ing phenomena of our time, should be the catalyst around
in small (often single-sex) hostels (or residences) rather akin
which much of the work in various university faculties is
to the accommodation provided by the mining houses
developed, for HIV and AIDS explains, highlights and
to their migrant workers. The university is confronted with
casts new light on so many of the problems of our time
drug use, alcohol use and abuse, and with myriad social,
â€“ racism, gender, democracy, service delivery, and access to
personal, economic and political challenges experienced
information and care. The biological, medical and social
by staff and students and the communities from which
aspects of the epidemics invite us to take new perspec-
they are drawn.
tives on old issues; to create new understandings of poverty, inequality, exclusion, crime and abuse; and to envisage
One of the catastrophes that the university confronts is
new ways of ensuring the continuity of families and com-
the HIV and AIDS epidemics, which affect both institu-
tional culture and the ways in which university can be run. The epidemics affect the lives of staff and students
And yet, as Cal Volks points out, the tertiary sector has
and impact on the communities from which staff and
been slow to respond to the epidemics, perhaps because
students are drawn.
institutionalising HIV and AIDS as a university response is far more complex than merely offering HIV counselling
and testing services or establishing research programmes.
living with HIV and AIDS? Should this response be the
It involves turning around the university, so that we recog-
same (or different) to responses to staff or students with
nise the threat of HIV and AIDS both to the university
other life-threatening illnesses? So we can speak about
and to the society in which it is located, and that we re-
the university having an association of staff and students
spond in a holistic way. A meaningful response involves
with AIDS, but there are no associations for staff and
addressing the essence, culture and power of the insti-
students with cancer, TB or malaria â€“ diseases in which
tution and challenging the relationship between the insti-
the death toll is also high, but which are seen as private
tution and the society.
health concerns. We talk about the importance of high-
level leadership and the creation of HICC committees. But In the past, many universities have been able to respond
we do not find the same urgency in addressing student
relatively effectively to social and political injustices. Some
alcohol or drug use â€“ which in some institutions may be
South African universities have a rich history of opposition to apartheid and to the political repression of the previous regime. Yet such a history in and of itself no longer confers legitimacy on their current operation and practice.
Universities tend to see AIDS as a problem only if more than 10% of students
Likewise the credibility with the new regime
equal cause for concern. Of necessity, AIDS is seen as being a public issue. Must we create a space for people to disclose? How can we create a space where it is safe for people to talk about sexualities in addition to being safe to disclose not only their HIV status but also sexu-
of some of the universities which were considered pillars
al practices and identities? Do universities need to have
of the previous dispensation should be cause for reflec-
HIV and AIDS programmes at all?
tion. It indicates how quickly institutions can transform themselves when social forces require it, but also how
Universities tend to see AIDS as a problem only if more
fickle the political imagination is. Success comes as much
than 10% of students are infected. This is not to deny the
from how an institution positions itself as it does from
personal, but perhaps the political, social and economic
any ideological identification or political rhetoric.
effects of the epidemics are of more immediate concern than the actual staff and students who are infected. In
In the first place universities have to address both the com-
the life of a university there are hard choices to be made,
plex issues of the individual versus the collective. What
and dealing with AIDS highlights many tough and difficult
should a university be doing about staff and students
choices about limited resources.
Dealing with HIV and AIDS in the tertiary sector touches
but also relate to the ways in which graduates need to
at the heart of what the university is all about – its core
be positioned to succeed in a future rendered so uncertain
functions of exploration, critique and the creation of new
by the epidemic.
knowledge. It is imperative that we develop a response that allows university staff and young people to think
The question posed by Edward Said in 1994 in his Reith
critically about HIV and AIDS, and how they can be
Lectures – Representations of the Intellectuals – is an inter-
equipped to challenge all the taken-for-granted realities
esting one for the university to consider as it plans for AIDS
and the orthodoxies that surround these epidemics. HIV
work. Are intellectuals, he asked, a very large group or
and AIDS interventions in the tertiary sector need to be far
an extremely small clique? The Italian Marxist, Gramsci,
more than education, prevention and training or knowl-
believed that “all men are intellectuals; but that not all
edge, attitude, perception and behaviour (KAPB) surveys.
men in society have the function of intellectuals”, whereas
Indeed, they are far more than policies or programmes such as peer education or teaching about safer sex and responsible sexuality. Such interventions should also be about how race, class, gender and culture influ-
Dealing with HIV and AIDS in the tertiary sector touches at the heart of what the university is all about – its core functions of exploration, critique and the creation of new knowledge.
Julien Benda defined intellectuals as a tiny band of super gifted and morally endowed philosopher kings who constituted the conscience of humankind.
ence democracy, accountability, citizenship and identity,
Is it possible to create public intellectuals among university
and how these shape both the epidemics and our respons-
staff and students who are able to think, debate and write
es to them.
about HIV and AIDS in new theoretically informed and compelling ways?
What should compel the university is the challenge of how it could become a critical space where HIV and AIDS are
The role of an HIV and AIDS programme at a tertiary insti-
a component of the intellectual activities of the institu-
tution is to develop intellectuals among staff and students
tion, a dimension of the planning and function of the
to become fascinated at a metaphysical level by HIV and
institution, and involved in the creation of new social
AIDS: fascinated about how it has shaped and will shape
understandings and explanations. Such new understand-
their colleagues, their peers and their mentors, and how
ings would not be just about infusion into the curricula
it is increasingly shaping the students who attend the
institution. Whilst HIV and AIDS are still generally regard-
cosy agreement, from endorsing dogma and orthodoxy
ed in the first place as a medical issue, even the medical
in a way that makes it seem as if we have forgotten that
response cannot be effectively divorced from the intel-
the previous regime demanded exactly the same kind of
lectual activity of debate, dissent and curiosity.
endorsement of dogma.
In Said’s view, the intellectual is an individual endowed
We need to generate a critical response from staff and
with a faculty for representing, embodying, articulating
students – they need to develop the skills to ask difficult
a message, a view, an attitude, philosophy or opinion to
questions and to challenge pervading orthodoxies. There
– as well as for – a public. And, Said says, this role has an
are many students whose intellect and curiosity is remark-
edge to it, and it cannot be played out without a sense
able and who relish the idea of thinking about HIV and
of being someone whose purpose it is to raise publicly
AIDS in new ways, using the ideas of different thinkers,
embarrassing questions, to confront orthodoxy and dogma (rather than to produce them), to not be easily co-opted by governments, corporations or other power groups. He suggests that the intellectual’s reason for being is to represent all those people and
Fundamental to effective critical HIV and AIDS work are the notions of sexual and social integrity.
confronting the taken-for-granted certainties and recognising that the future they will come to inhabit will be fundamentally different from the one inhabited by their parents. Such a future is not just the outcome of rapid and dramatic technological and climate
issues that are routinely ignored, forgotten or swept under
change, but also a result of the sweeping changes that
the rug. Intellectuals are not there to make audiences,
HIV and AIDS is making, and will make, to their commu-
politicians and peers feel good: their entire purpose is
nities and our society in ways that we have yet to under-
to be embarrassing, contrary and even downright un-
stand or take to heart.
pleasant. Fundamental to effective critical HIV and AIDS work are Much of the response to HIV and AIDS from the tertiary
the notions of sexual and social integrity. Increasingly we
sector (and indeed the nature of the HEAIDS response)
have come to understand that it is the absence of integrity
has highlighted the paucity of social research and a ten-
and of honesty that is underpinning this epidemic and our
dency in the new South Africa to shut down debate and
inadequate response to it. Pierre Brouard debates further
to close off discussion. Legitimacy, it seems, comes from
in his essay how important institutional integrity is in
if we do not explore the dark side of the moon, the
tertiary responses to HIV and AIDS work.
hidden meanings and identities that are shaped and strengthened by the attempt to homogenise people and
Sexual integrity means being honest in all sexual relation-
to assume shared values and beliefs. Understanding and
ships and being honest about oneâ€™s own self as a sexual
dealing with HIV and AIDS means working in uncertainty
being. But sexual integrity also requires a level of integ-
â€“ it means refusing to accept the dogmas and the ortho-
rity from tertiary institutions that we have not yet achieved.
doxies, the obvious and the sensible.
It requires that we move away from notions of ABC and 2
ideas of sexual morality towards creating a critical intel-
Social integrity means holding up to the light all that is
lectual debate about masculinities and femininities, the
flawed and seeking a new way to create citizens who are
social construction of gender and a culture on the campus
honest rather than expedient, open rather than self-
that is open to a range of sexual identities and preferences. We need to understand that HIV and AIDS are deeply embedded in the social rather than the personal constructs of sexual identity and that the overly simplistic way in which we have addressed these
Sexual integrity also requires a level of integrity from tertiary institutions that we have not yet achieved.
issues serves only to confuse rather than to enlighten.
interested, and curious rather than certain.
Of course not all those involved in the university can engage with HIV and AIDS directly in their work. However, just as race and our understanding of race has shaped
us all and determined how we are able to work in, live in and share the new South Africa, we must also recognise
Social integrity means understanding the ways in which
that HIV and AIDS will also shape us all and determine
our society (and tertiary institutions as a reflection of
how we are able to work in, live in and share the new
society), in many ways lacks integrity and an ethical foun-
South Africa. When we ignored the realities of race and
dation. Social integrity means recognising that there are
racism, and when we did not have an intellectual under-
different views, and different ways of being and seeing
standing of race and racism, we found ourselves unable
and, most important of all, recognising that society cannot
to understand and account for much of what was happen-
be neatly slotted away into easy categories for research
ing in the present. The same is true of ignoring the realities
and intervention. Society is messy. By its very nature it is
confused and muddled. We will not gain what we want
Angus Taylor, Van hier tot daar (From here to there), 2012. Slate and stainless steel. Collection of University of the Free State, Sculpture-on-Campus Project funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. Photo: Angela de Jesus.
This is a very important time for the tertiary sector to
and what needs to be done. And this is the essential space
reflect upon where we are in this epoch of AIDS – for it
that the ‘ivory tower’ affords.
seems that we have reached a serious impasse in our response and that we are floundering in how to sustain
What we have done is to have mainstreamed the status
the response. It also seems clear that now, more than any
quo rather than positioning it as something that we should
time before in the response to HIV and AIDS, the human
all be actively fighting against. The response to HIV and
rights and dignity of many people are directly under threat.
AIDS has become predictable, bound by formulas – a kind
We need to heed the opinion of Said:
of false community being asserted, a veneration of certain positions and ideas and a deadening and even loss of
I’ve never felt myself to belong to any establishcritical thought, debate and questioning. This is the very ment of any kind and mainstream. I’m interested antithesis of what the university is about and its critical in mainstreams; I’m jealous of them sometimes; role in challenging and changing society. occasionally, envy people who belong Responses to HIV and to them – because I certainly don’t – but AIDS have been on the whole I think they are the enemy. To quote Said again: I feel that authorities; canon; dogmas; mainstreamed in so many orthodoxies; establishments; are really ways that it is difficult to No social system, no historical vision, what we are up against … They deaden challenge them. 3 no theoretical totalisation, no matter thought. how powerful, can exhaust all the alternatives or practices that exist within its domain What we are confronting now in the AIDS world are the – there is always the opportunity to do someviews of people who have positioned themselves as exthing else; to formulate an alternative and not either to remain silent or to capitulate.4 perts, creating a canon, dogmas and orthodoxies, often with little or scant training in those areas in which they claim professional expertise. Responses to HIV and AIDS
What we seem to have lost in the AIDS response is the
have been mainstreamed in so many ways that it is diffi-
power to assert the alternative.
cult to challenge them – as for instance with the push by HEAIDS for mass testing campaigns through First Things
Young people studying at our institutions become adults
First – and this is having serious repercussions on our
in a world that is bewildering, exciting and full of challenges
ability to stand back and reflect upon where we are going
through sex, drugs, crime and violence, and immersed in
an education system that seems constantly to fail them.
shape their lives? And to equip them to have powerful
The AIDS epidemic is shaking the foundations of homes
for many young people. The public sector in whose care so many of them are placed through education, health
The university can offer intellectual leadership in the HIV
care and social development is itself buckling to the
and AIDS epidemics and challenge many of the taken-
epidemic. But despite this, young people remain the
for-granted assumptions about the epidemics, about
great hope for the ending of the epidemic, for the care
society, about sexualities and identity. It can also foster new
and support of those who are infected as well as for being
understandings and explanations of the epidemics and
secure adults in the future.
the societies in which they are developing. The university can help us learn how to address the epidemics through a
Yet, we are failing them: we offer them mixed messages and we fail to educate them about their sexual identities and about gender social oppression.
The crucial question is: how we can do this effectively? How do we develop young people’s minds and equip them for the
Young people remain the great hope for the ending of the epidemic, for the care and support of those who are infected as well as for being secure adults in the future.
range of interventions that are both internal to the university and external in the communities from which the staff and students are drawn.
The role of the tertiary sector in this epidemic is to ask questions – to ask uncomfortable questions and to challenge existing
reality of AIDS? Do we get them to accept the reality,
assumptions about young people, social and sexual be-
merely to tinker with it and try to mitigate its effects – by
havior, and political responses. A further responsibility
not challenging the dominant status quo, by not question-
is to create imagined futures into which students and
ing the ways in which gender, culture and tradition feed
the rest of society can project a society post-AIDS.
into and collude with the epidemic, or by playing all the old clichés about power and oppression, and blaming
For this to happen, HIV and AIDS work must be seen as a
all the usual suspects?
process that can transform the institutions in terms of how they address social problems. We need a fresh look at
Or do we equip them to think in new ways about who
how societies operate and how the education system in
they are? To consider what forces have shaped and will
one way or another colludes in oppression. The tertiary
sector can provide new perceptions of how the status quo
tools to understand power, hegemony, patronage, choice,
can be challenged. HIV and AIDS can radically alter the
freedom and social identity? We need to provide students
core function and rationale of any university.
with the conceptual and theoretical tools to understand how culture can lock them into positions of inferiority,
In most AIDS prevention we have turned away from any
how culture can be used to collude with the epidemics,
real theoretical understanding through our devotion to
and how race and class and gender all have webs of
the myth that AIDS information and messages – AIDS pre-
interconnectedness beyond mere behaviour change.
vention – needs to be simple, that it needs to be uncomplicated and straightforward. In our adherence to this
AIDS education is not about basic facts, nor is it about
mythology we have failed to recognise the importance of
mass testing campaigns – it is about having the intel-
education being conceptual and theoretical – something
lectual skills and the curiosity to use facts to change the
that makes us think and through such thinking begin to understand, integrate and work with theory, so that we have the means to act on this understanding.
AIDS education is not about basic facts, nor is it about mass testing campaigns – it is about having the intellectual skills and the curiosity to use facts to change the world.
We are now in a precarious state with regards to the epidemics and the critical gender response. We have sunk into the pedestrian, the banal and the mundane,
We have to realise that we have fascinating and complex
the sound-bites and the clichés. What has happened to
epidemics, playing themselves out in widely divergent
the critical voice, the voice that challenges, the voice
communities with different pasts and different futures
that asks questions and refuses to accept the taken-for-
– and they are overlaid with fascinating and complex
ideas about tradition, modernity and the impact of globalisation.5
The system and the push for mainstreamed responses neither want to nor in the end can accommodate the
What theoretical or conceptual tools are we developing
person who argues for alternatives for a different vision.
with young people to challenge the dominant status quo?
Yet it is essential for us in the tertiary sector to seek dif-
How do we recognise this epidemic in all of its complex
ferent ways to think about HIV and AIDS and how we
forms and provide young people with the theoretical
collude with gender oppression. We have made great
progress in many fields but we have still not got it right.
organisations and communities that are, or could be, con-
Our role now is increasingly to challenge the experts – to
tributing to the response and by critically assessing the
protect the human rights and dignity of all and to ensure
extent to which their existing response is meeting the needs
that in the panic attacks these epidemics create we do
of the entire university community.
not compromise on integrity, truth and debate. It is necessary for each institution to know its own epiThe forces of convention, of conformity and of reluctance
demic, as well as understanding the trends and shifts in
to engage in debate about things that unsettle, embarrass
the provincial and national epidemics. This is because the
or confuse would suggest that there is in our institutions
epidemics keep evolving and changing, new infections
a very large group of intellectuals with whom we need
continue to take place, stigma is still pervasive, and people
to engage far more effectively. Yet on many campuses
do not wish to be tested or to take up treatments. But,
there is a growing group of intellectuals with intellectual curiosity who are keen to develop new understandings and explanations.
It is necessary for each institution to know its own epidemic, as well as understanding the trends and shifts in the provincial and
There are three components to how the
just as crucially, to know the epidemic is also to know what works, where voluntary counselling and testing campaigns are successful, how treatments may be best accessed and how best to sustain prevention and community engagement.
university might deal with HIV and AIDS. The first component is that each institution, as UNAIDS proposed, comes
Understanding their epidemic allows for each institution
to ‘know their epidemic’. Institutions would need to
to review, plan, match and prioritise their responses in line
‘know their epidemic’ by identifying the behaviour and
with the National Strategic Plan.
social conditions on their campus that are most associated with HIV transmission and that undermine the ability of
The second component involves understanding and reflect-
young people and staff to access and use HIV informa-
ing. In the current literature on HIV and AIDS prevention,
tion, prevention and care services to the fullest.
the idea of ‘social drivers’ of the epidemic features very strongly.7
Knowing your epidemic provides the basis for institutions to expand and craft their response by recognising the
HIV is transmitted by specific practices among individu-
Beliefs, attitudes, behaviours and practices of individuals
als and groups that occur in a social context. There is
and groups are framed by, and in turn influence, the
disagreement in the social sciences about the extent to
dynamic nature of these elements of society. These basic
which an individual’s desires and practices are shaped
constructs of human interaction in social groups underlie
by outside forces (social determinants) and how much
the concept of social drivers in the HIV and AIDS context.
they are a reflection of individual decisions to act (social
While there is no standard or agreed-upon definition of
action or agency), but there is a common understand-
social drivers, UNAIDS refers to them as “the social and
ing that much of what humans do, think, and desire is
structural factors, such as poverty, gender inequality, and
influenced, if not determined by, elements of our society.
human rights violations, that are not easily measured,
These core elements are norms, values, networks, structures
[but] that increase people’s vulnerability to HIV infection”.
Norms are rules about behaviour that reflect and embody prevailing cultural values and are usually backed by social sanctions (formal and informal). Values are ideas held by individuals and groups
Beliefs, attitudes, behaviours and practices of individuals and groups are framed by, and in turn influence, the dynamic nature of these elements of society.
As this definition conveys, not only are social-level phenomena difficult to measure, they also are difficult to define and therefore difficult to understand fully. A fundamental goal of HIV prevention is to change the behaviours that put
about what is desirable, proper, good or bad. Networks
individuals at risk of infection.8 For the past two and a
are the webs of human relationships (including dyadic,
half decades, HIV prevention has been largely dominated
familial, social, sexual and drug-using), through which
by individual-level behavioural interventions that seek to
social (including sexual) exchange occurs and social norms
influence knowledge, attitudes and behaviours, such as
are played out. Structures and institutions are the mate-
promotion of condom use, or sexual-health education,
rial and operational manifestations of social norms and
and education of injecting drug users about the dangers
networks, such as family units, organised religion, legisla-
of sharing equipment.
tive and policy apparatus, educational systems, universities, military and industrial organisations, etc., in which social
Although some individually oriented interventions have
interaction is patterned and, often, controlled.
shown results in reducing risk behaviour, their success is substantially improved when HIV prevention addresses
the broader structural factors that shape or constrain indi-
Dealing with AIDS is not about consensus – it is about
viduals, such as poverty and wealth, gender, age, policy
rigour, debate, dissent and conflict. It is about challenging
all the assumptions, so that we can truly say to young people, particularly young women, that we have done the
Causal pathways link so-called structural factors – social, economic, political, and environmental factors – and the risk of HIV. Efforts to address these underlying factors are commonly referred to as structural approaches and seek to change the root causes or structures that affect individual risk and vulnerability to HIV.
very best we can to understand this epidemic and the social webs in which it moves. It is about intellectual bravery and always speaking the alternative view. It is about having a different take on reality and challenging the status quo – hence imagining a future that we would all be proud to inhabit.
Understanding and reflecting is informed through the third component: that of good research, both social research and bio-medical research, and through research
that looks at sexual networks on campus and at how the institutional culture might impede effective HIV and
1 Crewe, M. (1999) They roam the landscape like leader-
AIDS work – e.g. levels of sexual abuse in residences, trans-
less dogs. Paper presented at the Commonwealth Heads
actional sex, intergenerational sex between staff and
of Universities, Durban 19.
students, levels of sexual risk among students, levels of
2 Abstinence, be faithful and condomise.
alcohol and drug abuse, sexual prejudice and stigma,
3 Ali, T. (2006). Conversations with Edward Said. Seagull
HIV- and AIDS-related stigma, and particularly gender issues and the position of women on campus. Understanding and reflecting is as much about ‘know your campus’ as it is about ‘know your epidemic’. The institutional leadership needs to take action to ensure that student and staff sub-cultures are recognised and identified. Denial exists about both institutional cultures
Books, 104. 4 Ibid. 109. 5 This whole section draws heavily on a paper given at the Toronto AIDS conference. 6 UNAIDS. Know your epidemic. www.unaidsrstesa.org 7 See in particular the work of the 2031 groups as well as the work of, inter alia, Judy Auerbach.
and the patterns of sexual behaviour and sexual networks
8 Gupta, G.R., Parkhurst, J.O., Ogden, J.A., Aggleton, P.,
on campus, and how these are fueled and driven by denial,
& Mahal, A. (2008). Structural approaches to HIV preven-
shame, social drivers and structural factors.
tion. The Lancet DOI:10.1016/S0140- 6736(08)60887-9.
Angus Taylor, Layers of mind, 2012. Stone and bronze. Collection of University of Cape Town. Photo: Katherine Traut.
Edoardo Villa, Conversation, 1973. Steel. Collection of University of Pretoria.
Cultural nostalgia and critical dialogue in peer education? Towards a generative space for HIV prevention in higher education settings Relebohile Moletsane
in promoting HIV prevention as it tends to change social norms and behaviour. The authors also cite Campbell and
Peer education has often been billed as most promising
Mzaidume (2001), who assert that peer education allows
in terms of effective HIV prevention and changing the
a change in the social environment in which young people
course of the AIDS pandemic internationally. The peer
live, study and work.
education approach has been used in various health interventions, most recently including reduction in substance
However, other writers are critical of peer education, charg-
abuse, and HIV prevention (see for example, Perry et al.
ing that it is â€œa method in search of a theory rather than the
1983, Wiist & Snider 1991, cited by Turner & Sheperd, 1999).
application of theory to practiceâ€? (Turner & Sheperd 1999:
Its advocates often assert that, in particular, young people
235). In spite of such scholarly critiques, the method con-
are more likely to be open to, and therefore, able to learn
tinues to be popular among health educators, particularly
more effectively, and to accept and use new, radically
(but not limited to) those who work with young people.
different and controversial information (e.g. about sex, sexuality and HIV and AIDS) if it comes from peers rather
While it is not intended to be a critique of peer education,
than from adults and/or so-called experts. Citing the work
this essay aims to examine the possible contributions of
of Bond, Valente and Kendall (1999), Murdock, Lutchmia
the approach to HIV prevention when used in diverse
and Mkhize (2010) conclude that peer education is effective
cultural and gendered contexts in South African higher
education institutions (HEIs). The essay will illustrate how,
nostalgia). On the one hand, reflective nostalgia uses the
in the context of the resurgence of the notion of ‘culture’,
same triggers of remembrance and symbols as frames of
and in particular, the notion of ‘our culture’ as a basis for
reference that restorative nostalgia does. On the other
individuals and groups to construct and perform their
hand, reflective nostalgia involves both individual and
identities (see Moletsane 2011), such nostalgia for the past
cultural (collective) memory in thinking about and ena-
is, in many ways, significantly and negatively impacting on
bling different or alternative narratives to be told. Informed
interventions, particularly education targeting HIV preven-
by this notion, the essay addresses the questions: Using
tion (and care) in communities and institutions, including
reflective nostalgia as an entry point, to what extent and in
the often celebrated peer-led programmes.
what ways can peer education develop a more democratic, generative and dialogic space in which young people in
Often, peer education involves didactic approaches to education, where less vocal individuals learn from and accept the views of experts and their more powerful peers. Rather than real learning, such approaches at best succeed in coercing people to conform (to the values and views of the more powerful) and in excluding and silencing
Often, peer education involves didactic approaches to education, where less vocal individuals learn from and accept the views of experts and their more
HEIs might explore different and even opposing ways of constructing and performing their identities? How might this contribute towards effective peer education for HIV prevention on university campuses?
those who hold opposing beliefs (see Lesko 2010). In our patriarchal society, when informed by cultural nostal-
WHY A FOCUS ON UNIVERSITY STUDENTS?
gia, such approaches perpetuate gender inequality, fuel gender-based violence, provide a fertile ground for HIV
Why is there a need to focus specifically on university stu-
infections, and inhibit efforts aimed at HIV prevention
dents and on peer education in HEIs?
(Moletsane 2011). As post-apartheid South Africa becomes a noteworthy As an alternative, the essay is informed by Svetlana Boym’s
political, social and economic player on the global stage,
(2001) notion of reflective nostalgia as a more democratic
paradoxically, the country’s internal socio-economic chal-
and generative form of memory (as opposed to restorative
lenges seem to be multiplying. Among these are unequal
access to resources and services (e.g. education, health
Of particular relevance to this essay is the survey find-
and transport), poverty, unemployment, and HIV and AIDS.
ing which suggests a link between forced sex and HIV prevalence. For example, the survey found that HIV preva-
In 2008/2009, the Higher Education HIV and AIDS Pro-
lence was higher among males (6.7%) and females (12.1%)
gramme (HEAIDS) conducted an HIV prevalence survey
who reported forced sex, than among those who did
among staff and students at 21 of the 22 HEIs in South
not (1.9% for males and 4.6% for females) (HEAIDS
Africa. While the findings of this survey suggest that
2010: 32). These prevalence rates are worrying, particu-
HIV prevalence in this population was low at 3.4% com-
larly in the context of the well-documented pervasive-
pared to the general population, the variations in the
ness of gender-based and sexual violence on university
prevalence rates present some concerns (HEAIDS 2010).
campuses across the country. For example, in an issue of
The first concern relates to the provincial variations in HIV prevalence among the HEIs, with the Eastern Cape having the highest at 6.4% and the Western Cape having the lowest at 1.1% (HEAIDS 2010). The second is related to the gendered prevalence rates among the students in the various HEIs. For example, across all
These prevalence rates are worrying, particularly in the context of the welldocumented pervasiveness of gender-based and sexual violence on university campuses across the country.
provinces, â€œ[f]emales, with an HIV prevalence of 4.7%
Agenda dedicated to gender violence in education several authors reported and analysed the pervasiveness of gender and sexual violence on various university campuses (Clowes et al. 2009, Collins et al. 2009, Hames 2009). As microcosms of the larger society, there are unacceptably high levels of gender-based violence generally
and sexual violence in particular, among students at HEIs.
... were more than three times as likely to be HIV positive in comparison to males and this difference was sta-
The HEAIDS survey and the various studies referred to
tistically significant â€Ś(p<0,001)â€? (HEAIDS 2010: 29). The
above have several implications for HIV prevention inter-
third concern is related to the increase in HIV prevalence
ventions in higher education institutions. First, while HIV
with age. For example, among 18-19 year-olds, HIV preva-
prevalence rates are arguably low among students in HEIs
lence was low at 0.7%, while among 20-25 year-olds it
compared to members of the broader population, the
was 2.3% and among those over 25 years of age it was
variations in terms of prevalence rates still pose several
challenges for universities. For example, how can we keep the rates low and /or reduce them further? As this essay
will illustrate, without changing the socio-political contexts in universities and our society, the likelihood is high that
CULTURAL NOSTALGIA AND IDENTITY PERFORMANCE IN THE AGE OF AIDS
the prevalence of HIV among students will increase. Second, since prevention is still the best way to reduce
What is hampering HIV prevention efforts in South Africa
the impact of HIV and AIDS, higher education institutions
and among young people in HEIs in particular? As this
need to step up efforts to implement interventions that
essay suggests, one reason is the resurgence of ‘culture’
work. However, research suggests that current HIV preven-
as a basis for individuals and groups to construct and per-
tion interventions are not working. One reason for this
form their identities, and its exclusion and silencing of
is their focus on the individual and on changing individ-
opposing ways of being and doing. Related to this is the
ual behaviour, in spite of research evidence suggesting
resurgence of religious fundamentalism, which often con-
that people change their ways of thinking and doing only
demns free discussion on issues that are considered con-
when the social and environmental norms and group customs in which they live, work or study change.
As this essay will argue, our yearning for our cultural past is hindering efforts
Our yearning for our cultural past is hindering efforts aimed at HIV prevention generally, and efforts at HIV prevention in higher education in particular.
troversial and/or taboo and which tends to sanction alternative beliefs and ways of being in various contexts. Notions of ‘our culture’ and/or ‘our religion’ are often invoked for a variety of reasons in present day South Africa, including re-
aimed at HIV prevention generally, and efforts at HIV
asserting pride in identities that are deemed to have been
prevention in higher education in particular. In the context
lost during colonialism and later apartheid. The notion
of peer education, HIV prevention programmes are hin-
of ‘our culture’ is also used as a simplified response to
dered by, among other factors, silencing of oppositional
difficult modern social challenges such as HIV and AIDS,
voices, and undemocratic and unsafe spaces for students
or to explain and justify inequalities in social relations in
to tackle issues of ‘culture’, sexuality, and HIV and AIDS.
families, communities and institutions (based on gender, race, social class, race and other markers). Made popular
The section below focuses on the resurgence of cultural
among some young people by Julius Malema, the sus-
nostalgia and the ways in which it inhibits democratic
pended president of the African National Congress (ANC)
dialogue among youth and impedes the effectiveness
Youth League, as well as by President Jacob Zuma, reclaim-
of HIV prevention programmes in HEIs and other spaces.
ing various cultural practices lost as a result of colonial
and apartheid laws, or those abandoned as our society
for [a way of life] that no longer exists [and possibly] has
evolved and modernised in the context of globalisation (e.g.
never existed … a sentiment of loss and displacement”
virginity testing, polygamy, bride abduction or ukuthwala)
(Ibid xiii). This need to ‘reclaim our culture’ or to ‘go back
is viewed as appropriate justice and even as ‘revolutionary’
to our roots’ promises to rebuild or recapture what was
by the proponents of the cultural movement (Moletsane
lost (for example, as a result of the arrival of Christianity
2011). In families and communities, retrieving and reclaim-
and colonialism), and reconnect with, and to, the past.
ing ‘our culture’ is evidenced by the revival of old tradi-
This is maintained by adopting a “set of [traditional] prac-
tional practices such as virginity testing for girls, and the
tices, normally governed by overtly or tacitly accepted rules
strengthening of others such as (traditional) male cir-
[to enforce] certain values and norms of behaviour” (Ibid
cumcision and initiation, and ukuthwala.
42). It is such restorative nostalgia which informs notions of culture and allegiance to it that creates unequal, un-
Scholarship on ‘going back to our culture’ and nostalgia for the past is slowly emerging. For example, two important examples are Svetlana Boym’s (2009) international seminal work, The Future of Nostalgia, and in South
democratic and exclusionary practices and social relations
Scholarship on ‘going back to our culture’ and nostalgia for the past is slowly emerging.
between men and women, different religious and cultural groups, as well as between those who regard themselves as custodians of the culture or religion, and
Africa, Jacob Dlamini’s (2009) Native Nostalgia. Informed
those with opposing views, beliefs and identities. To illus-
by such notions of nostalgia, and in particular, by Boym’s
trate, Thabo Msibi, in his contribution to a collection of
(2001) notions of restorative and reflective nostalgia, this
essays edited by Moletsane, Mitchell and Smith (2012),
essay explores some of the reasons why, in the context of
explores the ways in which dress informs, reinforces and
a resurgence of notions of ‘culture’ in communities, HIV
enforces heteronormative discourses around notions of
prevention efforts in South Africa more broadly and in
manhood, masculinity and sexuality among young African
HEIs more specifically, are failing.
men on a university campus. According to Msibi, in the eyes of peers, what a male student wears on campus denotes
Boym (2001) distinguishes between restorative and reflec-
his sexuality and sexual orientation, and therefore, whether
tive nostalgia. In the case of the former, she suggests that
he is ‘a real man’ or a homosexual, with obvious sanctions
the type of ‘going back to our roots or culture’ popular
and possibly punishment (violence) against those who
in South Africa, denotes a kind of nostalgia, “a longing
do not fit the norm. Msibi concludes that:
Thomas Kubayi, Walking fish, 2010. Wild fig wood. Collection of University of the Free State, Sculpture-on-Campus Project funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. Photo: Angela de Jesus.
… the men are ‘forced’ to dress in certain ways so as not to be seen as gay – an identity that almost all the participants tried to evade by any means … To avoid being labeled as gay, the men use their everyday routine of dressing up to arrange their dress styles in a hierarchical manner, ranging from those styles privileged through hegemonic masculinity to those subordinated through their supposed femininity (Mitchell, Moletsane & Pithouse 2012: 12-13).
and women who adopt non-heteronormative femininities
example, by sanctioning what they wear) because it is
of ‘culture’ to explain (justify) patriarchy and heterosexist,
‘our culture’. Adopting an ‘under seige’ stance, restorative
racist, homophobic (and other) discrimination and violence
nostalgics (Boym 2001) often use such a narrative to silence
between and among people. In South Africa, we are cur-
opposition and to exclude or sanction those who are ‘against
rently witnessing more and more cases of people (mostly
us’ or ‘against our culture’ by not conforming to this norm
men) citing ‘culture’ in defence of sexism, racism, religious
(for example, girls and women who wear trousers or skirts
intolerance, homophobia and other forms of discrimina-
that are regarded as too short, or those who adopt non-
tion. This has brought to the fore patriarchal and hetero-
heteronormative femininities). Such nostalgics tend to
normative discourses of sex and sexuality, which demand
react negatively and sometimes violently against those
loyalty and conformity, often through violent and undem-
whom they see as acting against the collective (such as girls
ocratic means, from those regarded as members of a
and masculinities), often with devastating effects for both victims and perpetrators.
Explaining this phenomenon, Desiree Lewis (2003: 1) writes that:
[The] naturalized discourses of “culture” in Africa have functioned coercively. Fictions of authenticity, custom, and “the past” bolster patriarchal goals Similarly, by invoking notions of ‘our culture’, the unequal and desires, while perpetuating the servitude of women, and demonizing both the men gender relations and gender-based vioand women who choose to reject hetBy invoking notions of ‘our lence between young men and women, erosexist norms. Such fictions carry a culture’, the unequal gender which arguably puts them at greater risk charged emotional force because they relations and gender-based are linked to a sense of loyalty among of HIV infection (HEAIDS 2010), cannot be violence between young men those with a shared history of misrepchallenged or opposed because they are resentation and cultural marginalizaand women, which arguably regarded as ‘truth’ by those who hold tion. puts them at greater risk of them. Practices abound that regulate and HIV infection. Thus, restorative nostalgics use the notion police the lives of girls and women (for
community or ‘culture’. Obviously, in the context of the
nostalgia (Boym 2001) and productive remembering (Blunt
need for HIV prevention and care efforts, the current
2003). For Boym (2001), while using the same frames of
restorative nostalgia or ‘going back to our culture’ is
reference and triggers of memory and symbols, through
negatively impacting on efforts aimed at educating
reflective nostalgia, which involves both individual and
about HIV and AIDS, and is in fact contributing to the
cultural memory, different stories can be told. Reflective
spiralling HIV infections in South Africa.
nostalgia “reveals that longing and critical thinking are not opposed to one another, as affective memories do not ab-
What can we do to counter the silencing and excluding
solve one from compassion, judgment or critical reflection”
effects of restorative nostalgia among young people on
(Boym 2001: 49–50).
university campuses? How might we use peer education programmes to effectively enable opposing views and experiences to co-exist in a generative and safe space for dialogue and debate on issues of culture, religion, sexuality, and HIV and AIDS? The section below addresses these questions.
For Mitchell and Weber (1999: 221), similarly, feminist nos-
There is a need to move from useless longing for things from the past (real or imagined) to reflective nostalgia and productive remembering.
talgia, with its ‘back to the future’ approach, demands and enables “alternative readings of [the past and] nostalgia, which [involve] looking ahead and imagining particular scenarios for the future”. Further, “the objective of memory work
is to make the past usable, so that remembering [might
REFLECTIVE NOSTALGIA AS AN ENTRY POINT TO CRITICAL DIALOGUE IN PEER EDUCATION
serve to shed insight on and to transform the present and the future]” (Ibid: 5). From this perspective, we could use “what we know [not only] to inform and critique what could have been” (Ibid: 222) but also to understand what
To counteract the silencing and excluding effects of restora-
is, as well as to imagine what might be in the future.
tive nostalgia, strategies are needed that effectively bring other vantage points and experiences to the fore (par-
Using reflective nostalgia, among others, four possible
ticularly in the context of HIV and AIDS). In this regard,
interventions in peer education programmes aimed at
there is a need to move from useless longing (hooks 1989)
creating safe and generative spaces for debate and reflec-
for things from the past (real or imagined) to reflective
tion towards effective HIV intervention emerge. First,
such programmes might use ‘cultural’ or religious symbols
that it might not have happened at all. Using reflective
as entry points into critical reflection and debate about
nostalgia, peer education programmes that create safe
the drivers of HIV infections. Such debate and reflection
spaces for debate and dialogue around “what we know
might help us identify or develop ‘pedagogies of possibility’
now to [critically analyse the past and to] inform and cri-
or an ‘energising impulse’ (Mitchell & Weber 1999: 221)
tique what could have been” (Mitchell & Weber 1999: 222)
needed for imagining and developing effective HIV pre-
and what can be, are needed.
vention strategies (Moletsane 2011: 205). The benefits of this approach include acquiring knowledge that might
Third, in the context of unequal gender relations and what
be used to imagine alternative realities now and in the
Collins et al. (2009), Clowes et al. (2009) and Hames (2009)
future. This is because:
report as pervasive gender-based violence against women on university campuses, as well as the disquieting HIV preva-
The effort to revalue what has been lost can motivate serious historical inquiry [and critique]; it can also cast a powerful light on the present. Visions of the good society can come from fantasies of the future (Mitchell & Weber 1999: 221).
Debate and reflection might help us identify or develop ‘pedagogies of possibility’ or an ‘energising impulse’ needed for imagining and developing effective HIV prevention strategies.
lence trends among students in HEIs, feminist scholars have suggested that programmes must facilitate the development of alternative understandings of masculinities and femininities among students (see Magwaza 2006), and in
particular, foster productive/counter-hegemonic masculiniSecond, often commonly held restorative nostalgia tends
ties and femininities among them. Without such alterna-
to idealise the past, particularly what is regarded as lost
tive insights or views, practices that are often presented as
or stolen owing to colonialism and apartheid. Such views
‘culturally relevant or appropriate’ for maintaining order
are held as sacred and not to be questioned, but tend
in social relations between and among individuals and
to be uncritical of the realities of the past and to regard any
groups will continue to put young people at risk of HIV
critique as disloyal, disrespectful and racist (including the
infection (Leclerc-Madlala 2003).
charge that it is fuelled by western imperialism and feminism). For restorative nostalgics, it is difficult or undesir-
Fourth, peer education programmes must work towards
able to imagine that the past we (think we) remember
might not have happened the way we remember it, or
… the silencing that prevents women and children from asking and responding to difficult questions … and create and allow all members of the [peer group], a space or spaces for both critical debate and reflection about the past [and our culture or religion] and its impacts on the present and the future and for imagining what a different and desirable future (or futures) might look and how we might get to it (Moletsane 2011: 206).
the past and to silence and exclude those who do not conform to notions of the re-captured cultural past. Such remembering tends to exarcebate unequal gender relations, and to fuel gender-based violence, which in turn, arguably drives HIV infections.
On the other hand, the essay also argues that remembering does serve a purpose, and that reflective remem-
Such a democratic space and process allows all participants
bering provides possibilities for creating safe generative
the “innovativeness [needed] in contesting [taken-for-
spaces for critique and debate about the past and its impact
granted] discourses, practices, and identities that police
on the present and the future. Such dialogue would facili-
[their] rights, freedoms and desires” (Lewis 2003: 4). Citing Pereira, Lewis warns that this can only happen when learning spaces (e.g. in peer education programmes) are democratic enough to allow all voices and views to come
Reflective nostalgia potentially provides educative opportunities for fostering gender equality and reducing risky sexual behaviours among students.
tate the development of alternative individual and group narratives about sex, sexuality, and HIV and AIDS and how we might effectively intervene to curb the spread of infections among members of the community (in this case, university
to the fore in the debates so as to enable everybody
students). This calls for remembering that respects the
“to develop the capacity to go beyond what is given, to
Constitution and offers possibilities for imagining pro-
fantasize, to create new possibilities” (Lewis 2003: 6-7).
ductive and inclusive alternative futures.
For example, such reflective nostalgia potentially provides
educative opportunities for fostering gender equality and reducing risky sexual behaviours among students. As ar-
On one hand, this essay has presented a critique of a form
gued above, such a programme is more likely to succeed
of remembering that often seeks to restore or recapture
in a peer education context, among (theoretical) equals,
a lost past or cultural practice. As argued above, such
at least in terms of age group, and possibly interests and
restorative nostalgia tends to romanticise and idealise
desires. In this context, reflective nostalgia would use
individual and collective memory, and the cultural symbols
Hames, M. (2009). “Let us burn the house down!”
that go with them to critique the past, and imagine and
Violence against women in the higher education environ-
work towards an alternative future, one without gender
ment. Agenda, 80, 42-46.
inequality and HIV and AIDS among our student population.
HEAIDS, 2010. HIV prevalence and related factors – Higher Education Sector Study, South Africa, 2008-2009. Pretoria: Higher Education South Africa.
REFERENCES hooks, b. (1989). Choosing the margins as a space for Blunt, A. (2003). Collective memory and productive
radical openness. Framework, 36, 17.
nostalgia: Anglo-Indian homemaking at McCluskieganj. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 21(6),
Leclerc-Madlala, S. (2001). Virginity testing: Managing
sexuality in a maturing HIV/AIDS epidemic. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 15(4), 533-552.
Boym, S. (2001). The Future of Nostalgia. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Lesko, N. (2010). Feeling abstinent? Feeling comprehensive? Touching affects of sexuality curriculum. Sex
Clowes, L., Shefer, T., Fouten, E., Vergnani, T., & Jacobs, J.
Education, 10(3), 281-297.
(2009). Coercive sexual practices and gender-based violence on a university campus. Agenda, 80, 22-32.
Lesko, N., Brotman, J.S., Agarwal, R., & Quackenbush, J. L. (2010). Feeling jumpy: Teaching about HIV/AIDS.
Collins, A., Loots, L., Meyiwa, T., & Mistrey, D. (2009).
International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education,
Nobody’s business: Proposals for reducing gender-based
violence at a South African university. Agenda, 80, 33-41. Lewis, D. (2003). Editorial. Feminist Africa, 2, 1-7. Dlamini, J. (2009). Native Nostalgia. Auckland Park: Jacana Press.
Magwaza, T. (2006). Editorial. Agenda, 68, 2-6.
Mitchell, C., & Weber, S. (1999). Reinventing Ourselves
Pettifor, A.E., Rees, H.V., Steffenson, A., Hlongwa-
as Teachers: Beyond nostalgia. London: Falmer Press.
Madikizela, L., MacPhail, C., Vermaak, K., & Kleinschmidt, I. (2004). HIV and Sexual Behaviour
Mitchell, C., Moletsane, R. & Pithouse, K. (2012).
Among Young South Africans: A national survey of
Reconfiguring dress: An introduction. In R. Moletsane,
15-24 year olds. Johannesburg: Reproductive Health
Mitchell, C., & Smith, A. (Eds). Was it Something I Wore?
Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand.
Dress, identity and materiality. Cape Town: HRSC Press. Turner, G. & Sheperd, J. (1999). A method in search of Moletsane, R. (2011). Culture, nostalgia, and sexuality
a theory: Peer education and health promotion. Health
education in the age of AIDS in South Africa. In C.
Education Research: Theory & Practice, 14(2), 235-247.
Mitchell, T. Strong-Wilson, K. Pithouse & S. Allnutt (Eds.), Memory And Pedagogy. London: Routledge. Moletsane, R, Mitchell, C., & Smith, A. (Eds.). (2012). Was It Something I Wore? Gender, dress and material culture in social research in South Africa. Cape Town: HSRC Press. Msibi, T. (2012). Angeke ngibe isitabane: The perceived relationship between dress and sexuality among young African men at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In R. Moletsane, Mitchell, C., & Smith, A. (Eds). Was it Something I Wore? Dress, identity and materiality. Cape Town: HRSC Press. Murdock, P.O., Lutchmia, J., & Mkhize, M. (2010). Peer-led HIV/AIDS prevention for women in South African informal settlements. Health Care for Women International, 24 (6), 502-512.
Moses Kottler, Convocation â€“ war memorial, c. 1970. Bronze. Collection of University of Witwatersrand. Photo: Sally Gaule.
Edoardo Villa, one of six early reliefs donated by the Lupini family in 1999. Concrete. Collection of University of Pretoria.
Interrogating the link between gendered sexualities, power and legal mechanisms: experiences from the lecture room1 Sylvia Tamale
SETTING THE STAGE: ‘ARE WE REALLY GOING TO TALK ABOUT SEX?’
create a safe environment for meaningful discussions. An approach that presents fresh, relevant and critical perspectives to sexuality is always a challenge to the lecturer. In the
In most societies talking about sex in public is taboo.
main, students at the Centre for Women’s Law come from
Therefore, when postgraduate students at the Southern
different countries in southern and eastern Africa. Each
and Eastern African Centre for Women’s Law (SEACWL)
group presents its own dynamics, diversities and experi-
of the University of Zimbabwe are confronted with the
ences. Navigating such quandaries can sometimes prove
choice of elective courses, most view the course on gender,
law and sexuality with a certain amount of unease, curiosity, and even suspicion, despite the fact that it is a second
In the course we attempt to achieve two main objectives:
semester course for graduate students who have already
the first is to demonstrate how sexuality is instrumentalised
spent a semester of exposure to theories and perspectives
and deployed by culture, religion and the law, among oth-
in women’s law.
ers, as a control mechanism for maintaining unequal power relations in African societies. Here, the main focus is on
Sexuality is a relatively new area of serious scholarship in
acquiring a deeper understanding of how sex, sexuality
legal academies in and outside Africa. Thus, it is critical to
and gender are interlinked with the law, in its pluralities,
use creative teaching methods from early on in the course
and with other sites and structures of power, to regulate
to break the ice, bridge the lecturer-student divide and
sexual relations and to consolidate control.2
Secondly, we explore sexuality as an alternative and
and historical studies that are useful in considering the
empowering force for challenging gender and power
relationship between law and culture, as they relate to
hierarchies. Through an exploration of the linkages be-
sexuality and gender. The second module of the course
tween the human body, gender, sexuality and culture, we
(taught by Sylvia Tamale) relates theory to the more spe-
critically examine the social, cultural and legal constructions
cific manifestations of gendered power in the legal regu-
of sexuality as they intersect with gender. Although the
lation of sexuality.
course focuses mainly on women, the issues traversed are not about women alone; rather, we address the role that
It is expected that by the end of the course students will
the law plays in maintaining particular sexual relationships
have acquired the necessary analytical skills to critically
and identities for both women and men, structuring and
question seemingly gender-neutral, ‘objective’ and ‘univer-
reinforcing a gendered society wherein women are largely subordinated to men.
Readings and assignments are selected to challenge students to recognise the intersecting aspects of gender, law, sexuality, culture and identity, and the ways in which individuals and groups have re-
Through an exploration of the linkages between the human body, gender, sexuality and culture, we critically examine the social, cultural and legal constructions of sexuality as they intersect with gender.
sal’ legal concepts and sexual norms. Students are expected to leave the course wearing gendered lenses that allow them to perceive and understand the subtle ways in which the law perpetuates gender discrimination through sexuality. At the same time, students who have completed this course appreciate the positive,
sisted and continue to resist oppression. The course is de-
empowering aspects of sexuality reflected through resist-
signed for maximum interaction and vigorous participation.
ance, subversion, negotiation, identity, self-desire, pleasure
As much as possible, examples are drawn from everyday
experiences and references to real cases from across the continent are used throughout the course. Fortunately,
My own inspiration for designing this course was the glar-
there is never a lack of media exposure of current stories
ing gap that existed in legal training for analysing sexuality.
on issues of sexuality from around the continent.
I wished to create a space for law students to conceptualise sexuality beyond the ‘funny’ rape cases that they encoun-
The first module of the course (taught by Oliver Phillips)
tered in the traditional criminal law classes.3 The African
introduces students to some key conceptual approaches
Gender Institute (AGI) at the University of Cape Town was
critical in crystallising my motivation and sharpening my
• W hat skills do I experiment with in trying to link theory to everyday experience, as well as applying it
scholarship in this area.
to the professional work in which students engage? The AGI organised several workshops with African feminist
• What resources are available to demonstrate how legal
scholars to discuss pedagogical and content issues in the
mechanisms associated with sexuality hinder and/or
area of women’s studies. It was here that I honed partici-
facilitate social change or transformation?
pative feminist teaching methods, imbibed a rich array of
• What tools do I employ to help students unlearn deeply
literature and developed invaluable linkages with like-
embedded knowledge and relearn innovative ways of
minded scholars across the continent. My close involvement
building new theories of knowledge?
in the ‘Mapping African Sexualities’ research project organised by the AGI and the Institute of African Studies (IAS) at the University of Ghana in 2003 was the culmination of this learning process and sealed my conviction that this area was of critical importance to emerging academic discourse on the continent.
This chapter discusses the pedagogical
How do we move beyond initial reservations, embarrassments and reticence to engage the class in rigorous, productive and engaging analyses and reflections?
Each year is a new learning process for me and for the students, facilitated by our mutual symbiotic synergies.
Following this introduction, I provide a contextual overview of the course. I then delve into a pedagogical discussion of strategies that I employ to break the sexual
issues and methodological tools that I employ in the second
taboos in the lecture room environment. The fourth section
module of the course. Although the main focus is on its
of the chapter discusses the unlearning and relearning pro-
instructional aspects, some non-pedagogical issues form
cesses that course participants experience. The fifth section
part of the discussion. Some of the questions that the
reflects on the pedagogical aspects of linking gender/
chapter attempts to address are:
sexuality theory to social, cultural and political practice.
• How do we move beyond initial reservations, embar-
In the penultimate section I explore the transformational
rassments and reticence to engage the class in rigorous,
potential of transgressive sexuality, illustrating how
productive and engaging analyses and reflections?
students learn to question the very categories through which society constructs, regulates and systematises the
sexual. The final section of the chapter reflects on lessons
bodily integrity, but to protect the honour and the ‘prop-
learned from facilitating this course, the challenges en-
erty’ of related men, such as the husband and/or father.
countered and future prospects. This historical detail explains why the crime of rape does not fall under offences against the person, but under of-
CONTEXTUALISING AFRICAN SEXUALITIES
fences against morality in most penal codes directly imported from former European colonial states. It further explains the law’s narrow, restrictive approach to what
Popular understanding of the term sexuality is often limit-
constitutes rape. The historical analyses also shed light
ed and closely linked to the sex act.4 In other words, the
on, say, the exemptions placed on marital rape and why
physical looms large. One of the first tasks undertaken in
evidentiary rules for rape allow the accused rapist to intro-
the course is to broaden such understanding by showing
duce the sexual history of the victim as a mitigating factor
the way that sexuality is deeply embedded in almost all aspects of human life. The historical, social, cultural, political and legal meanings and interpretations
Popular understanding of the term sexuality is often limited and closely linked to the sex act.
(Coughlin 1998). The phallocentric nature of the offence is also manifest in the requirement of penile-vagina penetration as a main component of the crime.5
attached to the human body largely translate into sexuality and systematically infuse our relationship to desire, politics,
The second reason for taking a historical perspective is
religion, identity, dress, movement, kinship structures, dis-
that this approach reveals the dynamism of sexuality and
ease, social roles and language.
how it has continued to unfold over the years. Finally, a historical lens assists students in developing a broader view
Using a historical approach to sexualities in Africa is im-
of contemporary sexual controversies, placing them in
portant for three reasons. First of all, it helps students
their proper contexts. Learning about the sexual diversities
appreciate the significance of various forces, such as colo-
that existed on the African continent prior to contact with
nialism, religion, capitalism and culture, in shaping and
Europeans and Arabs, for example, offers perspectives
influencing sexuality on the continent. For example, tracing
that recognise the complexity and depth of African sexu-
the history of rape law in common-law jurisdictions reveals
alities. History will likewise explain the pervasive double
that it was designed not to protect the female victim’s
standards that govern men’s and women’s sexual morality
in Africa.6 Therein lie potential answers to questions
deliberate process of othering, they foisted gross simpli-
such as whose morality sexuality serves, and what purpose
fications on complex realities. Colonial narratives equated
such moral codes serve.
black sexuality with animal primitivity. African sexuality was depicted as crude, exotic and bordering on nympho-
Delving into the history of African sexualities and engag-
mania. Christian interpretations of the heathen practices
ing with its political economy is a new experience for most
of the African were duplicated in the arena of sexuality,
students. For example, a historical discussion of the case of
and sexuality was depicted as immoral, bestial and lascivious.
the Khoisan woman, Saartjie (Sarah) Baartman, the so-
Africans were caricatured as having lustful dispositions.
called Hottentot Venus, is as fascinating as it is shocking to
Such constructions of Africans as bestial and inhumane
students. The response to Baartman symbolises the racist,
were an essential step in justifying and legitimising the
imperialist and sexist representations of African women’s
fundamental objectives of colonialism. Using such depic-
sexuality by colonial powers. It throws light on current
tions it was fairly easy to take the next step of describing
attitudes toward African women’s sexualities (medicalised, maternal and promiscuous, among others) that stem from colonial policies and institutions. Such
African sexualities have long been the subject of ethnocentric and racist constructions.
the imperial enterprise as a ‘civilising mission’ designed to enlighten and liberate the barbarian and savage natives of the ‘dark continent’ (Gates 1986).
stereotypes have been internalised by many Africans and are often repeated in media reports, research reports and
Furthermore, the fact that laws that govern sexualities in
popular culture. The case of Saartjie Baartman also explains
Africa are sourced from various legal systems (cultural,
the nature of sexual laws in most post-colonial states that
religious and statutory) poses different and complex chal-
aim to suppress and regulate women’s sexualities following
lenges. The pluralistic legal systems found in most African
the model of Victorian Europe.
countries are theoretically governed by a hierarchical paradigm, wherein ‘modern’ statutory law takes prece-
African sexualities have long been the subject of ethnocen-
dence over cultural and religious laws. In other words,
tric and racist constructions. A critical examination of texts
applicability of the latter is subjected to the repugnancy
from 19th century reports authored by white explorers,
test, meaning that only those indigenous/religious practices
missionaries and anthropologists clearly demonstrates
and values that are not repugnant to (colonial) natural
this. Either through blatant ignorance, or as part of a
justice, equity and good conscience pass the test. And
Noria Mabasa, Unity is power: Let us be united, 2010. Wild fig wood. Collection of University of the Free State, Sculpture-on-Campus Project funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. Photo: Angela de Jesus.
yet, a critical examination of students’ own experiences
chimutsamapfihwa among the Shona ethnic group of
and knowledge of human relations (including sexuality)
the Ndaus in eastern Zimbabwe – a type of surrogacy that
in Africa reveals that it is culture and religion (and not
links the institution of lobola (bride-wealth), barrenness
statutory law) that govern the day-to-day interactions of
and reproductive rights. Such a traditional concept enables
most African people. Legal tensions around social institu-
the class to understand the delinking of sexuality from
tions such as polygyny, bigamy, bride-wealth, adultery
reproduction in some African traditions.
and how they relate to gender, power and sexuality are discussed. Hence, the gap between law-in-the-books and
Using seminal works, such as those by Ifi Amadiume, we
law-in-action, even when it comes to sexuality, is apparent.
explore the historical and ethnocentric conceptualisations of African family structures, tracing their impact on dis-
Family structures (and their evolution) present another important contextual feature of this course. Given its rich and diverse cultures, the African continent hosts a range of family arrangements and a plethora of kinship relations. Students from various countries share their cultural practices
courses of African sexuality (Amadiume 1987). A deeper
Given its rich and diverse cultures, the African continent hosts a range of family arrangements and a plethora of kinship relations.
examination of more contemporary family arrangements that are at odds with the dominant, socially accepted norms, such as single-parenting and same-sex relations, among others, also helps to unveil the close relationship between the
with the rest of the class. The revelations that come to stu-
institution of the (heterosexual) family and the social pro-
dents during these discussions are always astounding. They
cesses of sexuality control.
discover the range of existing family structures and authority systems – patriarchal, patrilineal/matrilineal, patrilo-
For a more nuanced, critical approach we try to avoid
cal/matrilocal, exogamous/endogamous, extended/nuclear,
situations that encourage what Gordon and Cornwall
polygynous / polyandrous – and the significance of the
describe as ‘the tyranny of consensus’ (Gordon & Cornwall
impact of these different social systems on gender, sexual-
2004), whereby no space is created for minority individuals
ity and violence.
to express different views and to explore personal feelings. A good example is our interrogation of the concepts ‘cul-
The link is also made between various marriage arrange-
ture’ and ‘rights’. Instead of presenting the two concepts
ments and sexuality. A good example is the practice of
as distinct, invariably opposed and antagonistic, we explore
the emancipatory potential of culture to enhance the
of children; the right to sexuality education; equal protec-
quality of lives in Africa.
tion of the law; and non-discrimination.8 By discussing sexuality, sexual health and reproductive health as issues of
The potential that culture holds for emancipating women
human rights, we shed new light on issues such as abortion,
in Africa is often buried, for instance, in the avalanche
prostitution, homosexuality and HIV/AIDS.
of literature many feminist scholars devote to the ‘barbaric’ cultural practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Not
In particular, we attempt to demonstrate the centrality
only is there an acute lack of sensitivity to, and recognition
of ‘bodily integrity’ – the control of one’s sexuality and
of grassroots and local initiatives undertaken by African
reproductive capacities – to the emancipation of African
groups and activists in this regard, but the missionary zeal
women. Exploring the connections between sexuality
applied to the enterprise often produces a negative back-
and citizenship and what it means to be a sexual citizen
lash. In taking such an approach, we hope to 7
expose the limitations that stem from holding culture and rights as binary opposites in our strategic interventions for transforming society (Tamale 2008).
A human rights perspective provides an excellent framework for contextualising African sexualities.
against the backdrop of imported colonial sex laws, rising fundamentalisms (cultural, religious, economic), political dictatorship and militarisation helps unravel the challenges associated with realising such rights.
Finally, a human rights perspective provides an excellent
The entire discussion of sexual rights is conducted with
framework for contextualising African sexualities. Speaking
sensitivity to the tensions inherent in the conceptualisation
the language of rights to lawyers and activists is relatively
of sexuality within the framework of rights. Alice Miller
easy because it has become hegemonic in the search for
and others have articulated the paradoxes that burden
equality for the marginalised. Although the concept of
the context of rights when it comes to sexuality (Miller &
sexual rights has not yet been fully embraced by the
Vance 2004): one cannot simultaneously use the language
international community, we explore the various rights
of sexual rights to police ‘harm’ (such as securing freedom
incorporated in existing national bills of rights that relate
from rape or addressing homophobia) and to demand
to human sexuality. These include respect for bodily
privacy (such as to defend the sexual pleasure of consenting
integrity; protection from violence; the right to privacy;
adults). The contradictions can be seen further in claims for
the right to decide freely the number, spacing and timing
the right to privacy while at the same time asserting the
unacceptability of marital rape, or the awkwardness of
sexuality are integral to the students’ unlearning and
asserting the rights of people to sell or to make images of
sexual activity, and while simultaneously calling for protection from sexual objectification.
Carefully thought out strategies and tools are employed to help students open up and shift their attitudes. Such tools enable us to achieve our objectives and to ‘spice up’
TRANSVERSING STIGMATISED BOUNDARIES,
the sessions so that students get emotionally charged and
BREAKING WITH SEXUAL TABOOS
engrossed in the subject matter. For example, I make use of the question basket technique, whereby students anon-
As stated earlier, it is a challenge for us to create a relatively free and safe space where students can shake off inhibitions and feel comfortable enough to engage in frank and meaningful intellectual discourse on a range of topics relating to sexuality (Machera 2004). Finding ways of lifting the shroud of secrecy, taboo and silence that engulfs sexuality and breaking through the hegemonic moral code that associates sexuality with shame
ymously deposit embarrassing questions for class discussion
It is a challenge for us to create a relatively free and safe space where students can shake off inhibitions and feel comfortable enough to engage in frank and meaningful intellectual discourse.
at an appropriate time into a basket.9 A candid discussion of a range of hitherto taboo topics on sexuality provides a means of empowering students on the journey toward informed choices and better control of their lives, and gives them the skills to challenge hegemonic sexuality discourse.
On of the first day of the course, it is impor-
and guilt requires skilful creativity and resourcefulness.
tant for the class to formulate some basic ground rules for
Sensitive, uncomfortable subjects, such as masturbation,
the duration of the course. Involving students in setting
menstruation, orgasm, same-sex eroticism, incest, abortion,
these standards means that they will own them and there-
wet dreams, sado-masochism, infidelity, sexually trans-
fore feel more obliged to honour them. Usually the rules
mitted diseases, aphrodisiacs, erotic fantasies, oral sex,
are along the following lines: respect other people’s views
cyber sex and pornography are brought into public dis-
and opinions even when you are challenging them; toler-
course. Direct reference to male and female genitals with-
ate differences, including diverse identities, lifestyles and
out use of sanitised euphemisms is also encouraged.
sexual orientations; respect confidentiality – private or
Such strategic disruptions of the social constructions of
sensitive stories shared in class should not be talked about
insensitively outside the classroom; allow others to con-
small group discussions, role play, visual clips, debates, po-
tribute by not interrupting and/or dominating discussions;
etry, personal testimonies, case studies and peer reviewing.
allow individuals to pass when they are unwilling or not
Participatory, interactive learning is a major tenet of femi-
ready to speak; exercise your right to ask questions, as
nist pedagogical strategies (hooks 1989, Omolade 1993).
there are no stupid questions; avoid disparaging stereo-
I, as lecturer, take on the role of a mere facilitator of stu-
types that fuel racism, ageism, sexism and homophobia;
dents’ learning and not the ‘expert‘ know-it-all who trans-
and prepare for class by reading assigned materials.
mits information in one directional flow (Friere 1986). For example, the use of the poem ‘Moons waiting’ (see box
As much as possible, we avoid long lecture sessions, pre-
below) has offered students the opportunity to con-
ferring instead an interactive seminar environment in
front the otherwise difficult topic of abortion in very
which students participate actively through large and
Moons waiting Many a woman knows the feeling
‘Thou shalt not take the life of the unborn’
Of intercourse, then overdue moons
Said Mr Law
The waiting, anxiety, desperation …
‘Will you take care of it when it’s born?’ I asked Mr Law ‘Of Course Not’
Crouched on the hard bench of the lab
The abortion was swift and efficient
The acrid smells pricking my nostrils
Or so I thought
Like a convict in a dock I waited for the verdict
Two days later I lay in the Intensive Care Unit They had been twins,
The results hit like a sledgehammer
One remained rotting inside me.
To save my dear life,
I had just turned nineteen
It had to be flushed out…
A fresher at the university
Together with my womb
My future bright and promising Not ready to become a mother I had to restore my moon cycle
An eternal end to moons waiting.
Allowing students to actively participate in their own
the sexuality of animals and statements such as: ‘even
learning holds several advantages: first, a sense of commu-
animals know better than to engage in unnatural sex…’.
nity is built within the lecture room that allows for free expression, trust and respect. Second, students have the
On such occasions, it is important to redirect the discussion
opportunity to be reflexive and critical of oppressive struc-
and ensure that the objective of the class is realised. For
tures and practices. Third, encouraging their participation
instance, it is useful to cite case studies that have shown
in the various activities, allowing their voices to be heard
evidence of homosexual pair bonds among animals and to
and developing the sense that their views are valued can
challenge the class to consider whether ‘unnaturalness’
be extremely empowering for students. Finally, the context
equals immorality, and whether homo sapiens should be
provides a rich learning experience for everyone (includ-
looking to animals for moral standards. The brief lecture
ing the lecturer), based on the diverse experiences and
sessions at the beginning of each session are used to intro-
knowledge represented in the class. When we were discussing reproductive health and rights four years ago, for example, a professional nurse in the class enriched the conversation with her practical experiences from the field. During a discussion
If not handled with sensitivity, experience has also taught us that feminist pedagogical methods can have a downside.
duce topics and to provide a theoretical backdrop on which to hook subsequent discussions. Indeed, caution has to be applied to ensure that classroom liberalism does not become counterproductive to the learning process.
of diverse sexualities, she made the connection between the intransigent cases of yeast (candidiasis) infections
The use of humour and appropriate icebreakers is an excel-
among her female patients and heterosexual anal sex.
lent way to reduce anxieties and to create a friendly, relaxing atmosphere. If used appropriately, humour has the
However, if not handled with sensitivity, experience has
ability to bridge intercultural, interfaith, interpower and
also taught us that feminist pedagogical methods can have
inter-generational divides when all other forms of commu-
a downside. For example, sometimes discussions can be
nication fail. Here, we do not refer to jokes that elicit loud
hijacked and side-tracked, leading to petty squabbles and
laughter but rather to conceptual humour that facilitates
insecurities. This usually happens during discussions of con-
the students’ learning process. For example, I often borrow
troversial moral debates, say regarding same-sex desire.
Stephen Law’s stimulating debate on homosexuality by hav-
Somehow the dialogue always veers to a discussion about
ing two students play the roles of God and the protagonist,
Azwifarwi Ragimana, Adam and Eve, 2010. Olive wood. Collection of University of the Free State, Sculpture-on-Campus Project funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. Photo: Angela de Jesus.
Mr Jarvis (Law 2003). Another example is through a drama-
Ostensibly the bib works to enhance the pleasure of sexual
tisation of the famous Kenyan case of the 67-year-old female
intercourse for both partners. The specific form of outer-
activist who married a 25-year-old man (see also Kariuki
course from Rwanda and parts of Uganda is another prac-
2005). Through such exploration we are able to clarify
tice that always generates a lot of interest among students,
some important issues regarding sexuality in family law.
especially its associations with female ejaculation.13 The
The use of the French phrase la petite mort (a little death)
dialogue on positive sexuality usually translates into an
in reference to sexual orgasm also adds a light touch to the
empowering, life-changing experience for most students.
uneasy topic. Furthermore, sharing of personal experiences, including those of the lecturer, gives the discussions a ‘human face’ and helps in cultivating a sense of trust.
Once students feel comfortable enough to discuss taboo topics, reticence is replaced with excitement and enthusiasm about learning new ideas. They exchange knowledge about various ‘exotic’ practices in their different cultures, which be-
UNLEARNING AND RELEARNING FOR TRANSFORMATIONAL SEXUALITY
Once students feel comfortable enough to discuss taboo topics, reticence is replaced with excitement and enthusiasm about learning new ideas.
The introductory session of the course emphasises the importance of keeping an open mind, because minds, like the proverbial parachute, only work when they are open. Individuals with open minds are
come the subjects of intellectual discourse. Take the cul-
less likely to be judgmental. A rigid, closed mind, on the
tural aesthetic practice of elongating the inner folds of the
other hand, limits one’s intellectual potential and is likely
labia minora among several Bantu-speaking communities of
to hinder transformational change. But transformative
eastern and southern Africa, such as the Baganda (Uganda),
learning can only be achieved through a process of un-
the Tutsi (Rwanda), the Basotho (Lesotho), the Shona (Zim-
learning and relearning. This cognitive process has proved
babwe), the Nyakyusa and Karewe (Tanzania), the Khoisan
to be a huge challenge for many students who have been
of southern Africa and the Tsonga (Mozambique) (see also
educated in colonial and post-colonial education systems,
Tamale 2005).12 Or the Kenyan versions of male circumcision
which limit their instruction to rote learning and grossly
among the Masai and Kikuyu, which involve partial cir-
neglect the skill of unlearning.
cumcision, allowing the lower part of the foreskin to remain attached in a bib of atrophied flesh (Romberg 1985).
Under such circumstances, it is important for us to facilitate
On some occasions there are individuals who, in their
students wading through layers of normative assump-
ardent bid to voice their views, break the ground rules,
tions that many have never been able to question or to
crossing the line of respect and appropriate behaviour
challenge. Unlearning requires students to leave their ‘com-
towards their colleagues. In these instances, I momentarily
fort zones’ and to abandon deeply entrenched beliefs and
retreat (not physically but vocally) and let the class deal
practices. It calls for them to confront their prejudices,
with the situation. This tactic encourages students to
and to shift attitudes and mind-sets. All this involves
sharpen their critical thinking and discussion skills, draw-
serious discomfort and disequilibrium. Relearning, on the
ing on the knowledge acquired from the class. It has the
other hand, requires the acquisition of new knowledge
additional advantage of making sure that I, as lecturer, do
and/or the reorganisation of the old (Soto-Crespo 1999;
not appear to be imposing my views on the students. Such
Gordon & Cornwall 2004). It explains why sexual stereo-
lecture room discussions usually spill over to residential
types that intersect with gender, race, religion and culture, and are deeply embedded in social and individual consciousness, become extremely difficult to overcome.
Discussions about sexuality can be contro-
Unlearning requires students to leave their ‘comfort zones’ and to abandon deeply entrenched beliefs and practices.
halls, where students engage colleagues who are not enrolled in this class. Sometimes we also invite guest speakers from organisations such as Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) to have a discussion with students.
versial. We often have lively, impassioned debates in class. Inevitably individuals have very strong views about issues
Prior to joining the programme, and this class in particular,
such as abortion, sex work and homosexuality. Even when
very few students would have questioned images of femi-
students unlearn dominant sexuality discourses, some ex-
ninity, masculinity, motherhood, fatherhood, family, desire,
press the huge dilemma they confront in reconciling their
non-procreative sex, multiple sexual partners, same-sex
religious beliefs with their newly acquired sexuality dis-
eroticism, rape, sex work, abortion, menopause, decency
courses. These are never simple issues to tackle and we spend
and sexual morality that patriarchal-capitalist societies
a lot of time discussing feminist theology, theological
construct for us. Neither the cultural definitions and mean-
hermeneutics, issues of re-interpretation and contextualisa-
ings, nor the links to power and dominance that these
tion of the scriptures, drawing parallels with racist inter-
issues raise, are often questioned. So we spend many
pretations of the theological text, and so forth.
hours in the lecture room unpacking the preconceptions
used to construct and give meaning to these concepts,
of theorising sexuality begins from the simple awareness
analysing the role of the law in creating, sustaining and
that sexuality (like race and gender) is a social construction.
reproducing these ideas, and how individuals, groups and
To a large extent, the human body enters the world as a
communities subvert hegemonic sexual norms and values.
blank slate. Thereafter, the social world infuses the body with meanings and interpretations, turning it into a sexed
An effective way of engaging with all these issues is to
body, a cultural body, a gendered body, a classed body,
explore the various ways in which sexuality norms are
a religious body, a racial body, an ethnic body.
institutionalised and how these are interwoven into the social fabric of students’ everyday experiences, knowledge
These social inscriptions – which are normalised and natu-
and social relationships. Theory then helps students make
ralised – are engraved on our bodies by the dominant social
the connections between seemingly disparate concepts
class (which has an investment in maintaining social hier-
and to answer questions relating to the why and how of sexuality.
In their course evaluations, many students have positively rated the course, using words such as ‘informative’, ‘an
The process of theorising sexuality begins from the simple awareness that sexuality (like race and gender) is a social construction.
eye-opener’, and ‘life-changing’.
archies), using culture, law, politics, media, education, morality and religion. In Africa, such nibs inscribe with the bold influence of colonialism, neo-colonialism and patriarchy. Thus, the inscribed rules, images, symbols and even hierarchies that give
shape and character to the bodies of African women and men become an important tool for sustaining patriarchy and capitalism.
LINKING THEORY TO EVERYDAY EXPERIENCES Indeed, women’s bodies constitute one of the most formiHaving attempted to create a feminist learning environ-
dable tools for creating and maintaining gender roles and
ment, it is important to make conscious the connections
relations in African societies. Although the texts that
between theory and practice in order for students to
culture inscribes on African women’s bodies remain invisi-
deepen their understanding of the linkages between gen-
ble to the uncritical eye, they are in fact crucial for effect-
der, law, inequality and sexuality. Hence, theory is the over-
ing social control. The inscriptions that are encoded onto
arching contextualising factor in the course. The process
women’s bodies have sexuality writ large. Through the
regulation and control of African women’s sexualities
books of post-colonial countries are rooted in the history
and reproductive capacities, their subordination and con-
and tradition of the former colonising European nations.
tinued exploitation are guaranteed. The theory of sexual
To some extent this means that Western theoretical per-
scripting makes the important link between individual
spectives define the underlying rationale and practice of
interactional behaviour on the micro level and the larger
the legal regime governing sexualities in Africa. More-
social forces on the macro level (Gagnon 2004).
over, as Bibi Bakare-Yusuf usefully reminds us:
For millennia, Africa has been part of Europe, as Europe has been part of Africa, and out of this interdisciplinary in nature, authored by a mix of scholars relation, a whole series of borrowed traditions from from the global North and the global South. Concepboth sides has been and continues to be brewed and fermented. To deny this intercultural exchange tualisations of sexuality and desire, heteronormativity, and reject all theoretical imports from Europe is to representation, sexual scripting, perforviolate the order of knowledge and The theoretical readings that mance and performativity are explored ussimultaneously disregard the (continwe assign to students are ued) contribution of various Africans ing feminist jurisprudence, post-structural to European cultural and intellectual interdisciplinary in nature, theory and post-colonial theory. Some of history, and vice-versa (Bakare-Yusuf authored by a mix of the theorists that we use in class include 2003: 140). scholars from the global Sigmund Freud, Chandra Mohanty, Uma North and the global South. Secondly, if we were to totally jettison Narayan, Ifi Amadiume, Catharine MacThe theoretical readings that we assign to students are
Kinnon, Gayle Rubin, Michel Foucault, John Gagnon, Judith
Western concepts and theoretical frameworks, we would
Butler and Patricia McFadden.
spend considerable resources reinventing the wheel – an unnecessary enterprise. There is a great deal of sense in
Although it is important to develop home-grown theories
using existing theoretical bases as a starting point and
of African sexualities and to be keenly aware of the dan-
then correcting or revising them in light of the contextual
gers of uncritically using theories that are constructed in
evidence collected in current studies.19 Existing theoretical
the global North to explain African societies, the latter
frameworks, such as Foucault’s conceptualisation of sexual-
cannot be completely ignored, for three reasons. First, many
ity in terms of power relations (Foucault 1976), Judith
of the contemporary codes of sexual morality and most
Butler’s implicit theory of heteronormativity and her views
of the laws pertaining to sex contained in the statute
on the subversive potential in gender performativity
(Butler 1990), or Gayle Rubin’s concept of sexual hierarchy
polygyny would replace monogamy in the charmed
(Rubin 1984) can be useful in analysing sexualities in Africa,
circle of most African societies. In the same vein, cross-
as long as analysis is carried out with the continental spe-
generational sex in the sex value systems of many African
cificities in mind and with a view to improve upon them.
societies would move from the outer limits to the inner circle as this is relatively acceptable (albeit privileging
A simple illustration can be made using Rubin’s (1984)
sexual relations between older men and young women
model of sexual hierarchy. Rubin shows how American
and not vice versa). Rubin’s stratification could further
society classifies sexual behaviour into a sexual value system
be criticised for its failure to show how some individuals
in which good, normal, natural and privileged sexuality
who seem to fit into the ideology of the ‘charmed circle’
(located in what she refers to as the ‘charmed circle’ of sex)
might simultaneously suffer discrimination through, for
must be ‘heterosexual, married, monogamous, procreative,
example, exempting marital rape from criminal sanction.
non-commercial, in pairs, in a relationship, same generation, in private, bodies only and vanilla’. Those that conform to this ideology enjoy privileges and material benefits. Outside the ‘charmed circle’ and on the ‘outer limits’ is ‘bad, abnormal, unnatural and
Outside the ‘charmed circle’ and on the ‘outer limits’ is ‘bad, abnormal, unnatural and damned sexuality’.
The third reason why Western theories can be relevant and useful to African contexts is that gendered sexualities, whether in the West or in Africa, are primarily based on similar predictions, namely labour, authority
damned sexuality’. Characteristics of the latter include
and performance (Bennett 2000). In other words, the hier-
‘homosexual, unmarried, promiscuous, non-procreative,
archical constructions of sexuality in either context are
commercial, alone or in groups, casual, cross-generational,
linked by the force of gender to labour, authority and per-
in public, pornography, with manufactured objects and
formance, against the backdrop of capitalism and patriarchy
sadomachistic’. Those that engage in sexual relations out-
(in their multiple variants). Hence there is an underlying
side the charmed circle face legal and social sanctions as
resonance between the respective structures of Western
well as maltreatment (Rubin 1984: 281).
and African societies that compels us to desist from completely rejecting or dismantling Western theoretical scaf-
Most of the elements in Rubin’s hierarchical model resonate
foldings because they provide some useful tools for re-
with experiences in many African societies. However, there
searchers to develop insights concerning African sexu-
are certain elements that clearly differ. For instance,
alities. Having said that, because of certain ideologies
Jan van der Merwe, No, I want my mother, 2000. Installation, found objects, rusted metal, TV monitor and DVD player. UNISA Art Collection.
and practices unique to the continent, theorising African
inspired homophobia and Africa’s autocratic and dictatorial
sexualities would differ from Western sexualities in nu-
regimes.21 By constantly attacking homosexuals, attention
anced specificities (Helle-Valle 2004). For example, one
is conveniently diverted from other pressing issues.
cannot ignore those aspects of cultural ideology that are widely shared among Africans, such as community, soli-
Before students leave their home countries, we request
darity and the ethos of ubuntu (humaneness),20 just as
them to collect sexuality-related materials – legislation,
one must pay attention to the common historical legacies
newspaper clips, among others – and bring them for use
inscribed in cultures within Africa by forces such as coloni-
in class. Grounding sexuality concepts in real-life experi-
alism, capitalism, imperialism and globalisation.
ences is crucial to the process of knowledge production among students. One technique that we have found useful
Other examples are the self-identifying terms gay, lesbian and transgendered that have emerged from Western societies. These differ quite markedly from the descriptors for some same-sex relations found on the continent (e.g. batsoalle woman-to-woman relationships in Lesotho – see Kendall
over the years to get students to appreciate theoretical
One cannot ignore those aspects of cultural ideology that are widely shared among Africans, such as community, solidarity and the ethos of ubuntu.
explanations of gender and sexuality is to make extensive use of analogies to racism. African students – especially males – readily appreciate theories on and comparisons with racialism and racism, more so than gender/sexuality theo-
1998). The identity politics that underpin these Western
ries. When we explain discrimination and oppression from
notions do not necessarily apply in African contexts (Ama-
the analogous grounds of ‘racism’ and ‘otherness’, the
diume 1987, Kendall 1998, Tamale 2003, Oyewumi 2005).
pieces begin to fall into place for most students. The oppressive structures that underlie racism, sexism, genocide,
In the same vein, it would be foolhardy for anyone theoris-
homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and such doctrines
ing about women’s sexualities to ignore the machinations
are all legitimised through ‘naturalised’ norms that de-
of Africa’s ‘structurally adjusted’ economies and the atten-
humanise, infantilise, disempower and disenfranchise
dant ‘feminisation of poverty’ when analysing women’s
people. Therefore, by invoking the justifications pandered
involvement in commercial sex work and the heightened
by some racist theorists, students begin to appreciate
prevalence of HIV/AIDS. It is also necessary to make the
analogous experiences of otherness.
philosophical link between institutionalised and state-
Viewing inequalities through the lens of gendered sexualities facilitates students’ understanding of sexual laws and policies. This in turn enhances their capacities to challenge and critique institutions, laws and policies that reinforce such inequalities. For example, most students enter the course with deeply embedded prejudices about commercial sex. But a discussion of the connections between class/gender inequalities and the control of women’s
There are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise. The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane … In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change. For women, this has meant a suppression of the erotic as a considered source of power and information within our lives (Lorde 1984: 53).
desire and sexual activity usually facilitates a ‘light bulb’ moment for students and develops their appreciation
One student told the class that Lorde’s essay was such an
of the dynamics of sexual work and its criminalisation.
eye-opener for her that it completely transformed her
Viewing inequalities through
SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION THROUGH RESISTANCE AND SUBVERSION
the lens of gendered sexualities facilitates students’ understanding of sexual laws and policies.
marriage and sexual life. This student had never conceived of her sexuality as a source of power.
Therefore, even though women’s sexualised bodies represent powerful constraints
Talking about the positive, pleasurable aspects of sexuality
in Africa, sexuality also holds positive, empowering pos-
is a major component of realising the objectives of the
sibilities for them. The body politics of African women are
course. It goes against the prescribed cultural morality of
also possessed of empowering sub-texts, reflected through
the oppressive structures that operate in Africa. Such dis-
resistance, negotiation, identity, self-desire, pleasure and
cussions have undoubtedly proved to be an empowering
silence. There is a legitimate silence surrounding some
resource for students, whose incapacitated worldview is
African women’s sexuality, a silence that cannot be en-
radically transformed by the end of the course. Many stu-
gaged and is ambiguous. Here, silence is different from
dents have, for example, found Audre Lorde’s eloquent
the Western feminist approach that often names it as a
total blank while valorising voice. In many African cultures speech is necessary and empowering, but in sexuality silence can be equally powerful. For instance, silence
can serve as a tool for the rejection of externally imposed
and articulating their needs and rights, and in rewriting
projections of African women’s sexuality.
the script for HIV/AIDS (Obbo 1995, Adomako Ampofo 1999, Sisulu 2000). Although the pandemic has created
There are traditions of sexual initiation across the continent
new hierarchies of domination and exploitation, it has
that are espoused by erotic cultures, such as the Ssenga
at the same time built the foundations of empowerment
among the Baganda of Uganda, the Tete among the Shona
for African women by spurring a new kind of political
of Zimbabwe, the Alangizi among the Yao of Malawi and
consciousness and self-organisation.
the Chewa/Nyanja of Zambia, the Mayosenge among the Bemba of Zambia and the Lawbe women of Senegal. All
Debates about the issues of sexual harassment, dress codes
carry some empowering messages for young girls and
and gender discrimination, as well as the processes through
women embedded in intricate sexual practices and tra-
which such oppressive structures are maintained, open up
ditions. Most of these positive erotic cultures have survived and endured the repressive regime of foreign laws and religions that have attempted to smother them.
Analysing gendered sexualities against the backdrop of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa has significant implications for subversive transformation.
Analysing gendered sexualities against the backdrop of
ideas for discursive techniques that can be deployed to resist them. The common stereotypes and misconceptions that students have about issues such as sexual advances, the hijab and nudity are debunked and deconstructed in transformative ways.
the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa has significant implications for subversive transformation. Not only has the epidemic opened up African women’s bodies and sexualities to public scrutiny, it has also compelled a public
LESSONS, CHALLENGES AND FUTURE PROSPECTS
debate on women’s sexualities, vulnerabilities and power. The sheer volume of financial and scientific interest in HIV/
Not all students who enrol for this module have an interest
AIDS has meant that the authors of the mainstream story
in a transformational agenda when they first join the class.
have not always been African women (Caldwell 2000,
Some enrol out of sheer curiosity, others because they
Cohen 2000). However, women living with and affected
see career opportunities in the subject area, and so forth.
by the pandemic have persisted in defining, reframing
However, regardless of their initial motives, by the end
of the course not only do the majority of students under-
studies, we clearly see the course deeply interwoven in
stand the links between sexuality and women’s status but
the analysis and conceptual understanding of the issues
they also appreciate the status of sexuality as an intellec-
tual concept within gender and the law. It is astounding to observe the lecture room climate transform over the
Analysing and negotiating the complex terrain of sexuality
days from ‘giggles’ to serious discussions, dialogue and
in a lecture room environment necessarily means that there
are several ambiguities, contradictions and intersections that we cannot address fully in class. This is especially so
Analysing the law through gendered lenses affords stu-
given that we have a period of only four weeks to cover
dents the opportunity to examine critically the relation-
this subject. Just as most students are beginning to feel at
ships between law, gender, identity and oppression. It is gratifying to hear the changed voices of students committing to return home and become in their own small ways agents of transformation. As one criminal defence lawyer put it at the end of the 2009 course: ‘I’m totally ashamed of what I’ve been doing to all those rape victims in
Analysing the law through gendered lenses affords students the opportunity to examine critically the relationships between law, gender, identity and oppression.
court during cross-examination.’
ease with the subject matter, the course comes to an end and they have to prepare for examinations. It is at this ‘liberated’ stage that most are willing to confront the numerous contradictions between their inner desires and the social norms to which they are supposed to comply.
We face further challenges: getting students with various academic and social pressures to read and internalise the
In many ways this course is an exercise in self-discovery,
assigned materials is never guaranteed. Only a handful
personal growth, healing and empowerment. Some stu-
of them seem to take time to more than quickly browse
dents have been so stimulated by the course that they
through the readings, and the common evaluation of the
have gone on to develop research proposals in the area
readings each year is that there are too many of them. It
of gender, law and sexuality. Excellent dissertations have
is therefore important to think about ways of motivating
been written on exciting topics, such as traditional mar-
students to critically read and analyse the assigned texts.
riage counselling and HIV/AIDS, sex education in schools, abortion in rape situations and sex tourism. In all these
Course evaluations are extremely useful in educating us
about students’ expectations, interests and fears, and about the effectiveness of the course. Some of the con-
1. This article also appears in A. Tsanga and J. Stewart
sistent feedback in this regard reveals that students ap-
(eds) (2011) Women and Law: Innovative approaches
preciate that we mix lectures with other interactive meth-
to teaching, research and analysis. Reproduced with
ods. Not only does the mix provide the necessary balance
in bridging the gap between theory and practice, but also
2. Janet Halley (2006) expresses reservations about the
it creates the informal and safe environment needed for
efficacy of feminism in analysing sexuality and power.
discussing sexuality. Many students have also observed in
Until alternative theories are developed, we maintain
their evaluations that this course is so central to women’s
that sex and gender currently offer the best frames for
law that it should cease to be an elective:
analysing sexuality and power.
Very essential … This course is a must for all MWL [Masters in Women’s Law] students ... It lays foundations of how the law issues impacts on gender and sexuality ... Should be part of the introductory lectures to MWL maybe soon after the Sex and Gender topic; it should not be an option.
3. Many criminal law lecturers are not gender sensitive and discuss the details of rape cases as though they were amusing, and/or blame the victim for the assault. 4. Not just any sex act but heterosexual, procreative intercourse. 5. The irony is that although the colonising countries
In future we hope to expand the curriculum to lay more
have long jettisoned or amended these laws to re-
emphasis on topics such as sexuality and disability, and
flect more equitable gender concerns, most former
sexuality and masculinities. We further plan to integrate
colonies hold on jealously to the anachronistic and
one or two field visits into the course, allowing students to
archaic laws in their bid to maintain a stranglehold
get hands-on experience with groups such as sex workers,
over women’s lives.
sexual minorities and traditional sex trainers, for exam-
6. Examples of such double standards are evident in
ple. The use of films and other audio-visual materials to
the laws governing criminal adultery, prostitution,
analyse the issues should further enrich our pedagogical
monogamy and evidentiary rules, among others.
repertoire. Needless to say, we are very eager to learn from
7. Although culturally sensitive, holistic approaches
colleagues elsewhere about teaching skills that have been
to the elimination of the practice of FGM condemn
successful in conducting similar courses.
its rights violations and the health risks associated
Danie de Jager, Symbol of freedom, 1995. Bronze. Collection of University of Pretoria.
with it, they acknowledge its positive aspects, such
as the celebration of the rite of passage and rite of ‘being’, which is crucial for people’s identity and cul-
Adomako Ampofo, A. (1999). Nice guys, condoms and
ture. Alternative rites of passage have been success-
other forms of STD protection: sex workers and AIDS
fully adopted in countries such as Kenya to maintain the underlying positive social value that the practice represents.
protection in West Africa. In Becker, C., Dozon, J., Obbo, C. and Touré, M. (eds) Vivre et Penser le Sida en Afrique/ Experiencing and Understanding AIDS in Africa, Paris, CODESRIA, IRD, Karthala, PNLS: 561–90/559-88.
8. This discussion is conducted in the context of ‘cultural relativism’ and the limitations of fitting all sexuality
Amadiume, I. (1987). Male Daughters, Female Husbands:
issues within the framework of rights claims.
Gender and sex in an African society. London: Zed Books.
9. An example of a question that keeps turning up in this basket is: ‘How do lesbians have sex?’ 10. I wrote this poem. It was inspired by a true story related to me by one of my students at Makerere Uni-
Bizimana, N. (2010). Another way for lovemaking in Africa: Kunyaza, a traditional sexual technique for triggering female orgasm at heterosexual encounters. Sexologies 19(3): 157-62.
versity. 11. This case demonstrates one woman’s defiance of patriarchal sexual norms that limit and oppress women.
Caldwell, J. (2000). Rethinking the African AIDS epidemic. Population and Development Review 26(1): 117-135.
12. A lively debate always ensues among students about whether such elongation qualifies as female genital mutilation in the definition provided by the World Health Organisation. 13. The practice is locally known as kachabali in Uganda
Cohen, D. (2000). Poverty and HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. New York: UNDP/SEPED. Coughlin, A. (1998). Sex and guilt. Virginia Law Review 84(1): 1-46.
(Tamale 2005) and kunyaza in Rwanda (Bizimana 2010).
Freire, P. (1986). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum.
This essay was published in African Sexualities: A reader (2011), edited by Sylvia Tamale and is reproduced here with permission.
Gagnon, J. (2004). An Interpretation of Desire: Essays in the study of sexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Gates, H. L. (ed) (1986). ‘Race’, Writing, and Difference.
Miller, A. & Vance, C. (2004). Sexuality, human rights
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
and health. Health and Human Rights 7(2): 5-15.
Gordon, G. & Cornwall, A. (2004). Participation in sexual
Obbo, C. (1995). Gender, age and class: discourses on HIV
and reproductive well-being and rights. Participatory
transmission and control in Uganda. In Brummelhuis,
Learning and Action. 50: 73-80.
H. and Herdt, G. (eds) Culture and Sexual Risk:
Halley, J. (2006). Split Decisions: How and why to take a
Gordon and Breach.
Anthropological perspectives on AIDS. Amsterdam: break from feminism. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Omolade, B. (1993). A black feminist pedagogy. hooks, bell (1989). Talking Back: Thinking feminist,
Women’s Studies Quarterly 15: 32-39.
Thinking black. London: Sheba Feminist Publishers. Romberg, R. (1985). Circumcision: The painful dilemma. Kariuki, W. (2005). Keeping the feminist war real in con-
South Hadley MA: Bergin and Garvey.
temporary Kenya: the case of Wambui Otieno. Jenda: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies 7,
Sisulu, E. (2000). A different kind of holocaust: a personal
reflection on HIV/AIDS. African Gender Institute
accessed 14 July 2010.
Law, S. (2003). What’s wrong with gay sex? 20 March,
Soto-Crespo, R.E. (1999). The bounds of hope: unlearning
“Old Eyes” and a pedagogy of renewal. Thresholds in
Education, 2, 3: 42-46.
cessed 4 December 2010. Tamale, S. (2005). Eroticism, sensuality and ‘women’s Lorde, A. (1984). Uses of the erotic: the erotic as power.
secrets’ among the Baganda: a critical analysis. Feminist
In Sister Outsider: Essays and speeches. New York: The
Africa 5: 9-36.
Crossing Press. –––– (2008). The right to culture and the culture of rights: Machera, M. (2004). Opening a can of worms: a debate
a critical perspective on women’s sexual rights in
on female sexuality in the lecture theatre. In Arnfred,
Africa. Feminist Legal Studies 16(1): 47-69.
S. (ed) Rethinking Sexualities in Africa. Uppsala: The Nordic Africa Institute.
Herman Wald, Man and his soul, cast 2012. Bronze. Collection of University of the Witwatersrand. Photo: Sally Gaule.
Andre Otto, Musaion, 1994. Bronze. Collection of University of Pretoria.
Centre for the Study of AIDS The Centre for the Study of AIDS (CSA) is located at the
and seeks to find new, innovative, creative and effective
University of Pretoria. It is a â€˜stand-aloneâ€™ centre which is
ways to address HIV/AIDS in South African society.
responsible for the development and co-ordination of a comprehensive university-wide response to AIDS. The Centre
Together with the Centre for Human Rights and the Law
operates in collaboration with the deans of all faculties
Faculty at the University of Pretoria, the Centre has created
and through interfaculty committees, to ensure that a
the AIDS and Human Rights Research Unit. This research
professional understanding of the epidemic is developed
unit continues to conduct research into the relationship
through curriculum innovation and through extensive
between AIDS and human rights in Southern African
Development Community (SADC) countries, is engaged in the development of model legislation, conducts research
Support for students and staff is provided through peer-
in AIDS and sexualities and sexual rights, and is involved in
based education and counselling, through support groups
the placement of interns in various sub-Saharan parlia-
and through training in HIV/AIDS in the workplace. The
ments and with parliamentarians, to strengthen the role
CSA, in partnership with the Campus Clinic and staff at
of parliaments and governance. In collaboration with the
Pretoria Academic Hospital, offers a full antiretroviral
Faculty of Education, the Education and AIDS Research
rollout with counselling, testing and treatment. A large
Unit has been established.
number of student volunteers are involved in the various CSA programmes, as are many community groups, ASOs
The AIDS Review, published annually since 2000, addresses
major aspects of the South African response to the HIV/ AIDS epidemic. Review 2000, written by Hein Marais and
To create a climate of debate and critique, the CSA pub-
entitled To the edge, addressed the complex question of
lishes widely and hosts AIDS forums and seminars. It has
why, despite the comprehensive National AIDS Plan adopted
created web and email-based debate and discussion forums
in 1994, South Africa had one of the fastest growing HIV
epidemics in the world. Review 2001, written by Tim
entitled Bodies count, looked at HIV and AIDS in the con-
Trengove Jones and entitled Who cares?, dealt with the
text of education, race and class. Review 2007, written by
levels of commitment and care – in the international com-
Patrick Eba and entitled Stigma(ta), addressed the back-
munity, in Africa and in South Africa. Review 2002, written
ground to and impact of AIDS-related stigma. Review
by Chantal Kissoon, Mary Caesar and Tashia Jithoo and
2008, written by Carmel Rickard and entitled Balancing
entitled Whose right?, addressed the relationship be-
acts, looked at the ways in which public health and human
tween AIDS and human rights in eight of the SADC countries
rights have often been pulled into tension in dealing with
and how a rights-based or a policy-based approach has
HIV and AIDS and other related health issues.
determined the ways in which people living with HIV or AIDS have been treated and the rights of populations
AIDS Review 2009, Magic, authored by Isak Niehaus and
Fraser McNeill, looked at uptake of ARVs and the forces that come into play which determine how people and commu-
Review 2003, written by Vanessa Barolsky and entitled
nities respond to the ‘magic’ of treatment – the physical
(Over) extended, evaluated age, demographic changes
effect on the body, as well as ‘supernatural’ effects.
and changing family and community structures. Review 2004, written by Kgamadi Kometsi and entitled (Un) real,
AIDS Review 2011, (B)order(s), written by Vasu Reddy,
looked at the dominant images of men in society and
looked at how sexuality is understood and constructed
focused on masculinities in the South African context.
and the ways in which barriers are erected around peo-
Review 2005, written by Jimmy Pieterse and Barry van
ple’s experience of sexuality and how sexual identity, pref-
Wyk and entitled What’s cooking?, focused on the impact
erence and practices are viewed in the dominant heter-
of HIV and AIDS on agriculture, and the politics of food
onormative society and how this affects HIV and AIDS
access and production. Also in 2005, an extraordinary
work. AIDS Review 2012, Off label, will discuss biomedical
Review, Buckling, written by Hein Marais, and dealing
technologies for HIV prevention with particular reference
with the impact of HIV and AIDS on South Africa, was
to microbicides in clinical trials.
published. Review 2006, written by Jonathan Jansen and
The CSA operates in consultation with an advisory ref-
erence group â€“ TARG â€“ comprised of university staff and students from faculties and service groups, as well as community representation. The CSA has furthermore developed a close partnership with a number of Southern
Centre for the Study of AIDS University of Pretoria Pretoria 0002, Republic of South Africa
and East African universities through the Future Leaders
T: +27 (12) 420 4391
@ Work Beyond Borders initiative, as well as the Imagined
F: +27 (12) 420 4395
Futures programme to develop university-based responses
that address the needs of students and staff living with
HIV and AIDS.
Amongst other partners, the CSA works closely with the SADC PF based in Windhoek on model legislation and issues of criminalisation, and has interns placed in other African universities. Through an extensive community-based programme in Hammanskraal paralegal and communitybased health and human rights workers are trained and supported. The CSA also has two stigma projects in Hammanskraal, through which it works with magistrates, the police and other agencies on issues of HIV and AIDSrelated stigma.
The HIV Concurrency Project: Paris Brummer, Mikayla Humphries, Daniel Malan, Pola Mazus, Jessica Metcalfe, Danielle Paul, Kylie Wentzel, Jane Matthews, Kyu Sang Lee; Handbag contents (installation), 2012. 300 Grit glossy paper. Photo: Paris Brummer. Students photographed the contents of 68 female UCT studentsâ€™ handbags. By intruding on the personal space of a handbag the work exposes something that is usually considered to be private and sacred.
HIV/AIDS Institutional Co-ordination Unit (HAICU) The University of Cape Town HIV/AIDS Institutional Co-
Other strategies employed to try and create an AIDS-
ordination Unit (HAICU), based in the Transformation
competent community include: promoting ownership and
Office and the Office of the Vice Chancellor, co-ordinates
responsibility; building confidence in local strengths; and
a collaborative university response to HIV and AIDS in the
building solidarity (‘bonding’ relationships) with student
areas of management, teaching, research and social re-
groups, academic and service departments, and partner-
sponsiveness. The HIV/AIDS Unit works closely with the
ships (‘bridging’ relationships), for example with commu-
UCT Disability Unit and the Discrimination and Harrasment
nities and with other Higher Education AIDS units with
the Department of Education, etc.
The first Higher Education HIV/AIDS Unit of its kind, estab-
Aimed at ensuring that UCT graduates are able to respond
lished in 1994, HAICU projects are research led as well as
to the pandemic on both a personal and a professional
evaluated. HAICU works on building an AIDS-competent
basis, activities include curricula, co-curricula and social
community within and around UCT (Campbell 2007)¹,
responsiveness interventions. Activities include: research-
building knowledge and skills while creating safe spaces
ing HIV infection and risk behaviour among UCT students;
for dialogue to explore changing identities that may en-
mapping the UCT response to HIV/AIDS (in the areas of
able HIV prevention and treatment among staff students
research, teaching, management – including HIV testing,
and the communities they are engaged with. Universities
counselling and support for students – and university social
are populated in part by a transient population of students
responsiveness programmes and then reporting this to
who come from multiple cultures and languages. The con-
the University Council so that a co-ordinated response
cept of building a sense of belonging to a UCT community
is enabled); reviewing and steering UCT HIV/AIDS policy
that is working to prevent HIV and HIV stigma was an
implementation; running an HIV/AIDS peer education
programme which is called AIDS Community Educators (ACES); conducting HIV/AIDS communication and social
awareness events on the campus; ensuring HIV/AIDS disci-
number of people who attend HAICU AIDS awareness
pline-specific curricula development and integration across
events on campus. (There are three events per annum,
all faculties; networking with other Higher Education
focusing on prevention of HIV, HIV/AIDS stigma and
Institutions to strengthen the sector; information and
gender, culture and HIV/AIDS). Building confidence in local
referral (I&R) services, and evaluation of all projects.
strengths and agency to mobilise this confidence is measured by an increase in positive perceptions of UCT re-
To understand the outcome that the programmes are hav-
sponse, as determined by qualitative feedback from the
ing, HAICU look at a range of outcome measures, i.e.
orientation week and residence workshop evaluation
expected short-term results. The following strategies of
focus groups, and through qualitative feedback from
building an AIDS-competent community are measured on
awareness events, as measured in post-event evaluation
an annual basis in the following ways by HAICU. Building
forms. Building solidarity (‘bonding’ relationships) is cap-
knowledge and skills is measured through levels of partici-
tured by the number of collaborative internal activities,
pant knowledge about targeted HIV/AIDS information by
more specifically the number of policy implementation
means of analysing orientation week HIV/AIDS pre- and
groups meetings and activities. Building partnerships
post-workshop questionnaires, as well as measuring knowl-
(‘bridging’ relationships) is measured by the number and
edge gains in curriculum integration programmes in the
evaluated quality of collaborative external activities, for
Health Sciences, Engineering and the Built Environment
example the number of Higher Education HIV/AIDS Pro-
and Commerce Faculties. Creating safe social spaces for
gramme (HEAIDS) activities.
dialogue is measured by looking at the number of students using the safe social spaces created by HAICU in HIV/AIDS
HAICU has been involved in addressing needs through con-
stigma and gender workshops at residences, as well as the
ducting a survey of HIV risk and HIV stigma-related be-
feedback from the workshop participants. It is also meas-
haviour among UCT students in 2009, which will be followed
ured by looking at the number of referrals from HAICU
up shortly. The research also allowed for the evaluation of
to Student Wellness Services for HIV/AIDS counselling.
various HAICU projects. A weighted probability sample
Promoting ownership and responsibility is measured by
generalisable to the UCT residence population was used. A
the number of people who sign up to be interviewed to
mixed method was employed involving 600 individual
become part of the AIDS Peer Education Programme
questionnaires administered in part by fieldworkers, as well
(members are selected following an interview) and the
as 20 focus groups and 30 in-depth interviews.
The HIV Stigma Project: Ruan Maree, Jane Matthews, Pola Mazus, Jess Metcalfe, Siwa Mgoboza, Caitlin Mkhasibe, Gitte Moller, Pamela Mulock-Bentley; Flowers (installation), 2012. Altered tin cans, wire, glue, red paint. Photo: Paris Brummer.
CONTACT DETAILS HIV/AIDS Institutional Co-ordination UCT
T: +27 (0)21 650 1006
University of Cape Town
F: +27 (0)21 650 3600
28 Rhodes Avenue
Mowbray 7700, Republic of South Africa
Walter Oltman, Double helix, 2007. Anodised wire. Collection of University of the Witwatersrand.
Centre for the Study of AIDS University of Pretoria Pretoria 0002, Republic of South Africa T: +27 (12) 420 4391 | F: +27 (12) 420 4395 E: email@example.com | www.csa.za.org
Published on Nov 28, 2012
Tertiary institutions occupy a unique position in shaping debate, action and policy with regards to HIV and AIDS. This AIDS Review, Third de...