Susan’s blog: AIDS Rally

On Monday the gogos were decked out in the yellow T-shirts donated to them when they had their ball games in June, their red looped ribbons pinned on, long white candles in one hand, umbrellas in the other. At 10 am they were waiting for the bus to take them to the World AIDS Day rally due to start at 10:30. We waited and waited. “T.I.A.” as they say here – this is Africa.I made use of the time by whipping out my journal and interviewing 80 year old Emma Skosana, listening to her stories of losing all three of her children, and raising an adopted daughter. She ended up in Sabie in 1970 when the (apartheid) government took their house away and “made a coloured location there. Bantus were sent away”. Coloured refers to (East) Indians and mixed race, Bantu are black.

The bus arrives, on African time.

The bus arrives, on African time.

At 10:30 still no bus. Milly was on her cell phone and said don’t worry, they have not started without us. So relaxed is this ‘African Time’ . . . so foreign to my urgent sensibilities. At 11:15 the bus arrived and we were there in 15 minutes. True, it had not started.

The program was full of passionate speeches, singing and dancing by a number of groups. Sitabogogo sang an African hymn and This Little Lamp of Mine in English. Following this, the MC expressed surprise at the gogos’ strong, beautiful singing . . . “I did not expect that,” she said, as Milly translated in my ear.

Gogos light candles for World AIDS Day Rally

Gogos light candles for World AIDS Day Rally


A few gleanings from the Johannesburg Sunday Times:

Thirty studies have now indicated that circumcision halves the risk of contracting HIV for men and, since January, men are streaming in at the rate of 50 per day to one Johannesburg township clinic. It is funded by an agency from France.

South Africa HIV facts:
5.7 million people are HIV+, 11 % of the population
1,500 new infections every day
370,000 AIDS deaths a year; total deaths from AIDS = 2.5 million
30% of pregnant women are HIV+. 60,000 babies infected each year
470,000 receiving treatment
540,000 needing, but not receiving, treatment

For more details see:


2 thoughts on “Susan’s blog: AIDS Rally

  1. Susan,
    Thank you for bringing us into the lives of your gogo friends – thanks to the strength and empathy in your writing. What an amazing visit you are having.
    May God Bless the work you are doing!

  2. Hello Susan.

    Susan, I just saw your blog. Please, please help me.
    There is a group of Gogos that will be holding a candle-lighting ceremony in New Brighton in P.E, the group is attached to the Arthur Wellington Methodist Church that is also in New Brighton.

    Can you plz tell me, what the 7 candles, that are lit stand for.

    Thanking you in advance for your help.

    Nombulelo Bomvana

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