This anthology is part of an emerging literature of HIV/AIDS in Africa. It offers individual stories about the impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa as a means of countering the mind-numbing statistics on infections and deaths. As the literature of the AIDS crisis in the United States in the 1980s and 90s brought to the general public the subjective experience of HIV/AIDS and thus strengthened the socio-political will to combat the virus, so this emerging literature of AIDS in Africa will deepen awareness about the crisis, engender sympathy for the individuals who suffer from it, and ideally help to shape an effective response to alleviate the devastation being wreaked by this epidemic.


The contributions to this anthology offer an intriguing range of styles that reflect the range of cultural and class perspectives represented in the anthology. The title poem, "Nobody Ever Said AIDS," by young South African author Eddie Vulani Maluleke, is a poem that uses simple rhythms and images to convey the denial and resulting despair of the early years of the epidemic. The story "Girls in the Rear-view Mirror" by another young South African author, Leila Hall, describes the subjective experiences of two lovers, both members of otherwise faceless categories of those at risk for HIV/AIDS, truck drivers and sex workers.

The poem "Sefela -- Migrant Worker's Poem," is transcribed from the migrant mine worker Teboho Raboko's song poem created within an oral genre of storytelling. "Sefela" identifies the many names and origins of HIV/AIDS and buttonholes the reader with its direct and imperative address: "You can imagine how cruel the disease was." The nonfiction story, "Visit to the Eastern Cape" by Antjie Krog reflects its author's background reporting on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission with its careful attention to detail in describing an AIDS hospital, but it is also shaped by a poetic understanding of death, as found in lines such as "They wait like ferns to die."

This is currently the only anthology that brings the specificity of the suffering caused by the AIDS crisis in Africa to a non-African readership. It can be taught alongside the literature of the AIDS crisis in the U.S. as a way of getting students to understand how political and social change comes through representation in literature.


Nobantu Rasebotsa is senior lecturer in English at the University of Botswana. Meg Samuelson is South African and a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Stellenbosch. Kylie Thomas specializes in oral history; she was born in Zimbabwe and is a citizen of South Africa.


Kwela Books

Place Published

Capetown, South Africa




Nobantu Rasebotsa, Meg Samuelson & Kylie Thomas

Page Count