Ag in Africa

12 September, 2006

Guilty secret

Filed under: AIDS — Ag @ 3:45 pm

It’s my birthday today, and all people born on 12th September share one recent, common, guilty secret: huge relief that we weren’t born yesterday. Every year, the 11th comes round and we all feel that way: thank fuck tomorrow isn’t today. We feel guilty ‘cos our relief shines a red-selfish-egotistical-shallow-spotlight on our lack of humanity. But stuff it. The fact is, it’s kind of difficult to have a massive drinking session with all your friends when the wheels of American sentiment crank up to warp factor 10 and the West’s media rain their dark, exploitative 24-hour-bad-news about 9/11’s tragedies over the cringing date that is the 11th of September.

It is the day that we must hang our heads and tut-tut about the state of the world and how religion is the root of all evil. (Aside: ‘religion as the root of all evil’ – I love a sweet paradox.) 9/11 is a nice, easy thing to tut-tut-bemoan-doomgloom about, because it has happened, it’s over, and there wasn’t much we could do to stop it. It wasn’t our fault.

Well, it’s the 12th today, not the 11th, and today about 700 peope will die in South Africa from AIDS. (I’m going to be safe when I go there, ‘cos I really like garlic and I eat loads of it.) The worldwide figure is about 8000. But tonight I’m still going to party like it’s 1999 (which was a bloody good party, as I’m sure you’ll agree) because the self-conscious projection of personal loss and tragedy when nothing has actually happened to me is so bloody easy and so entirely unproductive, it’s offensive.

I wonder (actually, I rarely wonder, I’m much more of an espouser) whether we don’t get all tut-tut-bemoan-doomgloom about this constant tragedy because it’s not easy; it’s daunting; it can’t be expressed in soundbites; it’s not sentimental. It’s real and it’s largely preventable and we can do something about it. But we don’t. So that’ll be two guilty secrets I can drink to tonight: one that I share with my co-birthday-ers and one that I share with everyone else in the West.



  1. Happy B-day (6 days late…) 😉 Working in the relief and development world myself, it will be fun following you in your journey down south.
    Shall be back…

    Comment by nyasha — 18 September, 2006 @ 11:00 am

  2. Fank you. My journey saarf (can never resist saying that with a cockney drawl) starts Saturday. I’m predicting tears by Weds, highs by the following Saturday, then something approaching normality by mid October.

    Comment by aggy — 18 September, 2006 @ 11:47 am

  3. you’ll have such a blast in jo’burg, you will find true love, re-marry, have a ton of kids and 10 years from now, you will sit on your porch chair and think: “Bristol, where in the world is that?”! 😀

    Comment by nyasha — 18 September, 2006 @ 8:06 pm

  4. oh, you’ll be fine. and you’ll be putting it all in here, or there’ll be trouble… and then you’ll get broadband put in (yeah, right) so I can skype you.

    Comment by lucy p — 18 September, 2006 @ 10:11 pm

  5. Nyasha, please don’t wish a second marriage and kids on me. Seems to me that so many other people are good at breeding. I’m happy to leave it to the experts 🙂

    Comment by aggy — 25 September, 2006 @ 6:16 pm

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