In celebration of World Aids Day 2015 (1 December), a group of HIV patients and activists from Khayelitsha, Cape Town, collaborated with local artists and musicians to bring a powerful message of living active, creative lives, and proving that HIV is no death sentence.
Their voices are expressed through two giant murals in Khayelitsha and a specially-composed hip-hop track by Khayelitsha rapper P'zho titled ‘There is #LifeBeyondHIV'
For more background on the #LifeBeyoundHIV project, view the background document "#LifeBeyondHIV".
To design the murals, local Khayelitsha artists Velile Soha and Patrick Holo worked closely with a group of HIV activists and MSF counsellors to capture their vision.
Over two days, they brought this vision to life on the side of OR Tambo Hall - the largest, most well-known building in Khayelitsha - to be visible from the N1 highway out of Cape Town.
HIV activists Tembisa Mbhobho and Welcome Makele were chosen to have their images incorporated into the massive mural design.
Welcome Makele, HIV activist, Khayelitsha
“I’ve been living with HIV since 1998. Working for the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), I give advice to people who need it, and I distribute condoms. They call me the ‘Condom Man’.
The stigma attached to handing out condoms was very high, but I’ve told myself that if I’ve managed to convince once person in a month, I’ll be clapping my hands that I’ve done something.”
Tembisa Mbhobho, HIV activist, Khayelitsha
“I volunteered to be part of the mural painting because the youth isn’t as brave as I am. HIV kills whoever wants to die. I’m doing this for girls younger than me so they can grow up seeing that a woman my age can be on a mural painting and not be ashamed of their status.
I found out I was HIV positive in September 2008. I fell pregnant in 2010, so I took ARVs and my child is (HIV) negative. I’ve never been on a mural painting before. Some people are shy to see themselves on walls, but I was really excited to see myself.”
#LifeBeyondHIV – the song for World Aids Day 2015
MSF also invited Khayelitsha hip-hop artist and producer P'zho @mrpzho to meet the HIV activists, health workers and people living fearlessly with HIV in their community.
MSF approached P'zho because of his large and loyal following among young people in Khayelithsa and in the Eastern Cape.
Their meeting inspired P'zho to write, perform and produce ‘There is #LifeBeyondHIV’ in his ‘backyard’ studio.
His isiXhosa/English lyrics draw on the courage of those he met, and the song urges all South Africans to take a stand against HIV with three simple messages:
Get tested. Take your treatment. And please, Condomise.
Listen and download ‘There is #LifeBeyondHIV’ via SoundCloud HERE
View or download the lyrics.
P'zho says: “I wanted to write a catchy song that was encouraging… these people are inspire their communities because of their bravery in living openly with HIV every day.
My main message with this song is to say: 'yes, you are HIV positive, but that doesn’t mean it’s a death sentence. And if you’re not HIV positive, there’s no way you can miss out on knowing.'
MSF's work in Khayelitsha, Cape Town
MSF has pioneered approaches to treating HIV in South Africa since 1999 – by being one of the first providers of antiretroviral treatment in the public sector.
In Khayelitsha, MSF put the first patient on ARV treatment in May 2001, and has provided treatment to over 20,000 people in Khayelitsha over the last 12 years.
Today, MSF continues to provide support to clinics in Khayelitsha through mentoring and operational research on HIV and TB treatment and pilots innovative community-based treatment models to relieve the burden on the strained health care system and on people living with HIV.