Sage Francis writes:
As it is World AIDS Days and I have thought about these children every single day since being acquainted with them almost two years ago, I decided that I can no longer sit on this song. In January of 2011 I visited Durban, South Africa to help mentor and provide care for HIV-infected children. For me, it was a crash course education on their situation, culture, history, and various forms of treatment (or lack there of.) With a reported 5.6 million people living with HIV, South Africa has the highest HIV infection rate in the world. That is mainly due to misinformation propagated by the government as well as the people’s lack of access to education and proper medical care. With so many people dying of AIDS in this area, many children are often left to fend for themselves in overcrowded “orphanages”, many of which have no electricity or running water according to what I witnessed.
My trip to Durban and the surrounding rural areas was organized by people who were filming a documentary on a community of people who were receiving alternative treatment along with their normal ARV (anti-retroviral) treatment. I joined a group of national and international poets whose task it was to make a connection with the children and communicate their story to the world. Toward the end of my stay I wrote a song called UBUNTU (Water Into Wine) which I was initially hoping to release as a companion piece to the film. The documentary will probably do a much better job of explaining the vast array of emotions we all went through, but as it still isn’t completed I figured it might be best to just release the song now.
The artwork for UBUNTU is a portrait of Nonoti, one of the younger girls who made a deep and everlasting impression on everyone she met. We lost Nonoti to HIV-related complications earlier this year, so along with the children I name in this song, and all the great people I met during my stay in Durban, a special dedication goes out to her (R.I.P.)
If you’re ever given the opportunity to visit Africa and provide a helping hand, I highly recommend it. You will learn more than you could ever imagine about yourself, humanity and the world in general. You can view pictures of my trip to South Africa and the children this song is about here: http://tinyurl.com/SageSouthAfrica2011
Much love and many thanks to everyone involved!
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