Our Kind of People: A Continent's Challenge, A Country's Hope

Our Kind of People: A Continent's Challenge, A Country's Hope

Uzodinma Iweala

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 0061284904

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In 2005, Uzodinma Iweala stunned readers and critics alike with Beasts of No Nation, his debut novel about child soldiers in West Africa. Now his return to his native continent has produced Our Kind of People, a nonfiction account of the AIDS crisis that is every bit as startling and original.

Iweala embarks on a remarkable journey in his native Nigeria, meeting individuals and communities that are struggling daily to understand both the impact and meaning of the disease. He speaks with people from all walks of life—the ill and the healthy, doctors, nurses, truck drivers, sex workers, shopkeepers, students, parents, and children. Their testimonies are by turns uplifting, alarming, humorous, and surprising, and always unflinchingly candid.

Beautifully written and heartbreakingly honest, Our Kind of People goes behind the headlines of an unprecedented epidemic to show the real lives it affects, illuminating the scope of the crisis and a continent’s valiant struggle.

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anemic wave. “I did my traditional wedding 1993, and then I wedded in church in 2001 after getting my issue,” she said and pointed to her children in the picture. “Here now, I’m up to twenty-something years before I wedded in church. I was fourteen when I did my traditional wedding.” Hope had grown up in a relatively strict household. Her father, a trader in the local markets, though loving, was perhaps driven to fear on behalf of his family as a result of his hyperacute sense of danger. Rather

flamboyant tree with its red blossoms and fanned himself slowly with that morning’s folded newspaper. His shirt bore dark sweat stains where it folded into the creases of his body. He was not an especially large man, but he joked about his growing potbelly and how the extra weight made him sweat a little harder. Around us sprawled a chaotic convention of bars and brothels connected to illegally rigged extensions from the power grid. Men sat in groups, holding bottles of Guinness stout or Star

speakers, he painted such a dire picture of HIV/AIDS in Africa that it seemed only a matter of months before all 800 million sub-Saharan Africans would contract the virus and perish. “People don’t have access to information. People don’t have access to medication,” I remember him thundering as the mostly white, mostly Western audience sighed in sorrowful agreement. “People are dropping like flies.” I sat up. I remember scribbling those words on a program that I have long since lost. “Dropping

his disposal. When we finished the tour, the cavernous lobby was still empty. The room was quiet. Doc sighed with relief. There were no patients. It was only then that I realized that a number of the clinic’s windows were missing windowpanes. “This is where you work,” I said to Doc. He laughed the way he usually does when he considers something beyond explanation, and then he ushered me out to the front steps. “It’s cooler out there,” he said. We sat on the building’s steps just in front of

an hour of wandering from table to table, I stumbled from the main hall back into the lobby with an armful of brochures and a pocketful of business cards. I had met a few interesting people, some of whom I intended to contact immediately, but for the most part, I was tired and confused. I recognized that there was a certain absurdity about not wanting to sensationalize the HIV/AIDS epidemic while desperately searching for some charismatic HIV-positive figure to introduce me to its reality. I had

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