When Shuga first aired in 2009, I found it to be very intriguing. The movie concentrated on a group of youths who lived a sort of fast life, had fun and enjoyed the party life. I was barely eighteen at the time, and I genuinely could not relate to anything that was going on in the movie except for the fact that HIV is a phenomenon that was and still is not very well understood; but very much a part of the human race. Shuga was just a typical movie to me.
Fast forward to when I came to Nairobi, pretty much in charge of my own decisions; and not very much in the tight grip of my father’s protection. When I went to Strathmore in 2010, I was extremely young, seventeen years old to be precise. I was seventeen, enrolled in a private university and living on my own in a hostel in Nairobi West. In this year, even my thinking was naive; I was exposed to the world; but I never explored.
Fast forward to today; after five years in a public university for a four year course (That’s a story for another day), having experienced the world of media, the corporate world and having seen life on the fast lane, I can genuinely say that kids grow by the grace of God.
In case you are wondering, No, I am not about to make any confessions. However, I have observed so many things to the point where when Shuga season three and four aired, I could totally see how these things happen.
I could see how easy it is to fall sick; to contract diseases such as HIV among a myriad of many others. See, we are living at a time when our priorities are money above morals, fast life above long and satisfactory life, and a fancy life on social media above a moral life. We have put so much priority in sex and money that we forget to educate the young on self preservation (in a good way) and the word of God. We forget that we should ensure that the young grow with a certain fear of the Lord, to respect Him and to honor His word.
Sex, according to the Bible, is sacred. But because we ignore this fact, we prioritize sex so much that it puts pressure on young boys and girls to be in the “flow” with everyone else; whether or not they have gone through proper sex education. And as a result, we have many cases of abortion, unwanted pregnancies, and most importantly, increased HIV infections.
It breaks my heart to read statistics that imply that nearly half of the population is HIV positive. It breaks my heart, and makes me worry so much about our future, and the future of generations to come. Young children do not know what to do; with no education whatsoever, but still there’s a move to provide condoms for kids above ten years old. Why? Exactly what are we encouraging here? Shouldn’t we be instilling moral values and a religious stance on these matters?
Today being the 1st Day of December marks World Aids Day.
In 2013, I was an ambassador for sex education in my University, and the statistics and stories we hear about how young people end up contracting HIV, learning about it and becoming suicidal is alarming. We need to make a change, create impact and let it be felt.
And while we are passing the message of self preservation (not engaging in reckless sexual escapades) and taking care of ourselves; it is important to note that stigma is still a factor that we have to address. At the end of the day, while it is true that sex is the most recognized mode through which one can contract HIV, there are many others that we are all exposed to. And just as we are exposed, we are all human, and HIV does not pick race, tribe, skin color, or any other “differentiating” factor. Anyone can have it. As such, as human beings who recognize ourselves as equal beings, it is important also to ensure that we remain empathetic to our brothers and sisters who may be going through a transition and/or are having a hard time understanding their status.
Remember, infected or not, HIV still affects your life. Be kind. Be understanding. Be empathetic. But above all, take care of yourself.
The goal is to get to zero: Zero new infection; Zero AIDS related deaths; Zero mother-child transmissions.
Its World Aids Day.