Tuesday, June 12, 2012

May 23 – International Candlelight Memorial

This post is a few weeks overdue, but I am finally trying to catch up. Hopefully you will see a few more soon

On May 23 the DAC office worked with several other organizations in our subdistrict (such as Men’s Sector, BNYC, Minister’s Fraternal, and the local Kgosi) to put together a beautiful memorial for those lost to AIDS.  The event was at the Kgotla in Moselebe which is the village touching Hukuntsi on the other side of our salt pan and was schedule to start in the afternoon.

My workmates

As expected there were a few hiccups during the implementation of the event such as transportation availability, and the event starting on time. The main reason the event did not start on time was that our guest speaker cancelled at the last minute and we had to find a substitute. Luckily Masita, who is the Assistant District Admin Officer and performs the legal portion of weddings for Kgalagadi North. He is an eloquent speaker and has the ability to draw the listener in to the mood of the event!

Speakers during the event included several local ministers, the DAC, two local Dikgosi, our district Councilor, one of our S&CD officers, and Miss Stigma Free.  Miss Stigma Free’s speech was beautiful, heartbreaking, and emotionally charged.  Of course it was all in Setswana but I was able to pick up pieces here and there and a friend was kind enough to fill in the gaps when I asked.

After the speeches, attendees were asked to pick up a stone for each person they personally knew who died of AIDS then place them in a pile in the front of the Kgotla and candles were handed out to everyone. Songs were then sung while a cross was placed with a white linen cloth in front of it and two large candles were lit. The rocks were then gently moved to the cloth and it was all carried to a display of red candles arranged as a ribbon in the sand. A procession of people began lighting their candles and carrying them over to light the candles in the sand.  Another speech followed this and eventually the event wrapped up.

It was a beautiful and breathtaking event as well a good reminder of the amount of pain and loss that HIV and AIDS have had on Botswana…has had on my friends. The longer I am here the more normal everything seems. It is good to have a reminder of why I am doing the work I am doing and what is truly at stake.

Wame aka Tracy

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