Monday, July 25, 2011

SWAZILAND: American Government Sinks to New Low

It seems our American goverment is going to stop at nothing to try and normalize circumcision in Swaziland. As if the Soka Uncobe "mass circumcision" campaign weren't enough, they've turned to celebrity endorsement by employing a football team and even a less than influential king to try and "breathe life" into the campaign. (The Soka Uncobe campaign is turning out to be a big flop, and the Swaziland ministry of health and American officials don't know why the men aren't rushing to have their organs mutilated.)

And now, it seems, the American government is turning to art to try and "inspire" the men of Swaziland to get circumcised. According to the Swazi Observer, an artist has chosen "Male Circumcision and Life!" Wow. Really? A foreskin is a life-threatening medical condition? I'm going to go through and disect the disgusting article.

"One of the hallmarks of expression in society is art."

The author is already trying to sound lofty and "artistic." Yes, one of the hallmarks of expression in society is art, but this isn't saying much; cavemen were engaging in artistic expression long before civilization as we know it existed. One can still find said pieces of art in caves.

"Stories put a human face on the important work that we do- making it come to life, appealing to emotion while showcasing talent and expressing passion about our work."

An artistic blurb that I'm not even sure is supposed to mean anything. But let's move on...

"In life and art, sculptor Raymond ‘Pondai’ Mishi focuses on the positive. A spirit of hope and sense of purpose give meaning to his life and find expression in his art."

More meaningless twaddle I think the author hoped would sound elloquent and "artistic" to his or her readers. What does any of this have to do with artistic expression? I think most people find some sort of meaning to their lives. Otherwise they lose hope and commit suicide. There has got to be some underlying message in all of this. Wait for it... here it comes...

Consider the sculpture he created for a special art exhibit, IndzabaYetfu, hosted by the United States government to commemorate HIV prevention efforts in the Kingdom of Swaziland."

Yes! Let's consider it! What "efforts" could the United States government POSSIBLY be "commemorating..."

"Raymond shared his skills, talent and expertise in designing a 200 centimetres tall sculpture made entirely from recycled medical instruments- between 2 000 and 3 000 sterilised forceps that had been used to perform medical male circumcision, an HIV prevention intervention that is underway in Swaziland."

Bingo. Oh how "artistic."

"It took him just one week to do it. The theme for the art is 2011 60% Safer Avenue symbolic of male and female genitalia but with a symbol of practising safe sex even after one is circumcised."

Because "safe sex" is simply impossible when one isn't circumcised?

The elongated upper torso is the penis with foreskin and the red light should be the one exposed after a man is circumcised."

More artistic use of the English language? This author is truly gifted. I'm guessing there are two penises depicted? One circumcised and one not?

"The curly middle part signifies the public area of the art work and the two legs embrace the sculpture and could be both the male’s legs wearing blue socks and also the woman’s hands embracing his partner and encouraging him to circumcise and heal the family."

What's wrong? Is the family sick? How does a father having normal genitals make his family "sick?" What if the man doesn't want to get circumcised but instead practice monogamy and faithfulness? Should a woman not encourage this? How absolutely insane.

"When asked how he feels about his artwork, Raymond was quick to say he was excited to have learnt something new and innovative."

An artistic answer to an artistic question. How is Raymond SUPPOSED to feel about his artwork? Absolutely ashamed I'm sure. He is asked about how he feels about his artwork, and he responds by telling of something "new" and "innovative" he just learned. His artwork seems to be a secondary thought. Let's see what comes first...

"I knew I wanted to do a sculpture without affecting the environment negatively using welding tools,” says Raymond, a native of Zimbabwe who lived and worked in Mozambique before settling in Swaziland."

Hrm. A non-Swazi... peculiar...

"Welding can sometimes cause more harm and instead, I used a solution queue bond which attaches metal pieces together and it sticks in two seconds… My design was born! I am proud to introduce a new art form. Take it up! Every single pair (of surgical scissors) has been in contact with the flesh, the artifacts have been in contact with life itself”. His life affirming message to young men is abstinence, the most important key to a safe and healthy life."

This is something new. It reads like cheese and chalk; you can see both this sculptor and author are working hard together to force two unrelated things to mix. The author is interested in "not causing harm"; so he employs materials that were used to destroy normal, healthy human tissue. What this has to do with "affirming life" is beyond me. If abstinence is the most important key to a safe and healthy life, where do circumcision tools come into the picture?

"It is good to be circumcised; it’s hygienic and if you decide on having sex make sure you protect yourself using a condom correctly and consistently. Sex is part of life and culture but we shouldn’t perish” he says."

What a strange, sad conglomeration of the English language. What a grotesque verbal sculpture. It's possible to practice safe sex without the use of a condom? Sex is a part of life and culture, but it is not necessary to be circumcised to practice good hygiene and safe sex. Not one thing has to do with the other. What a horrible attempt to mix two completely unrelated things.

Scientific evidence confirms that male circumcision reduces the risk of the acquisition of HIV by men by sixty percent (60%)."

Scientific evidence does no such thing. The "researchers" asserting this 60% figure have yet to furnish the evidence that circumcision indeed reduces the risk of HIV transmission. The best they can do is present statistics that don't correlate anyhere else in the world, not even in Africa.

"In addition, a circumcised penis is also easy to clean and is less prone to some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and cancer of the penis."

More irrelevant and unproven claims. The Americans and the Swazi ministry of health are trying to reduce the spread of HIV, not promote better hygiene or reduce cancer of the penis in Africa. It is not necessary to be circumcised to clean the penis, and a circumcision does not prevent the transmission of STIs. Circumcision fails at preventing STIs so much that the authors of these so-called "studies" and the promoters of circumcision themselves cannot stress the use of condoms enough. Circumcision is worthless.

"Now it is my turn. I am ready to circumcise! I have made a personal choice to do so”.

I wonder whom he is going to circumcise? And I wonder if the person he is circumcising has made that personal choice himself? I can only guess that this person is talking about himself. If he wants to become circumcised, more power to him. I only wonder if he is actually going for the cut, and not just merely saying so because the American Government paid him money to say these words for this promotional article. Who knows? The man isn't even Swazi and already is circumcised and is pretending he is not for this propaganda piece.

I question any person in these pro-circumcision articles; how many have actually undergone the cut? How many are speaking because they got PEPFAR money to be part of a promotional ad? How many were already circumcised prior in their own culture?

"Raymond first learnt about medical male circumcision when he met the Soka Uncobe team from Jhpiego, a global health non-profit organisation and affiliate of John Hopkins University that is working in more than 50 countries to prevent the needless deaths of women and their families."

Preventing the needless deaths of women and their families? Or promoting the needless genital mutilation of men and their children? By now it should be obvious what this article is; a promotional advertisment for a mass genital mutilation campaign that is failing to produce the desired results. Raymond is but another celebrity that has been hired to promote circumcision; who knows if the man already belongs to a circumcising culture, if he is not and he'll actually go for the cut or, like the Swazi king, paying lipservice to a benefactor of so-called "humanitarian aid."

"In Swaziland Jhpiego is part of the consortium of organisations implementing the Accelerated Saturation Initiative on male circumcision dubbed Soka Uncobe which means ‘circumcise and conquer’. The organisation also works with professionals, governments and community leaders to provide high quality health care for their people."

(If you can call genital mutilation in lieu of more effective, less invasive modes of prevention "high quality health care.")

"The owner of Yebo Art Gallery Mr. Peter ‘Senzenjani’ Armstrong encouraged Swazi parents to allow their children to study art as a subject in school in order to inculcate their desire and love for art. “Whatever your desire on wish it can be achieved through art expression” he says."

Let's just see if PEPFAR and the Swazi ministry of health achieve their desires and wishes through this disgusting piece of work.

I am absolutely disgusted at this disgraceful use of art. The use of art. To try and elevate and beautify genital mutilation. There are somethings that no matter how hard you try, you just can't make "beautiful."

Making a sculpture out of glass shards or rusty blades used in female circumcision would not make female genital mutilation any more acceptable. Not even if you used scissors, scalpels or other tools that doctors use to carry out the procedure in a sterile, clinical setting.

What a sick disgusting shame that my government is sinking this low to try and get Africans to accept genital mutilation. Absolute coersion and harrassment. All in the name of "humanitarian aid."When does this madness end?

If you think the promotion of circumcision as HIV prevention is a waste of our tax dollars, get a hold of PEPFAR and let them know. There is a page for this on Facebook:

Pepfar is a waste of American Tax Dollars

To any Swazi men or other men being coerced to undergo circumcision by local campaigns in Africa, I've got something to tell to you; circumcision doesn't prevent anything. Never has, never will. I'm afraid your governments have come to depend on sick benefactors who care about nothing more than mutilating your bodies and the bodies of your children for aid. You're at the mercy of corrupt government leaders who have sold your foreskins for so-called "humanitarian aid." You lose part of your genitals and they line their pockets. And you're still no better protected.

I'm here to tell you, you don't have to get circumcised to prevent HIV. Circumcision does not, cannot prevent you from getting sexually transmitted HIV. Only condoms provide true protection. When nurses and doctors ask you if you've circumcised yourself or your children, tell them it's none of their business. Tell them that you're educated enough to learn how to take a shower. Tell them that you are faithful to your wife. Tell them you want an alternative.Tell them you want an HIV prevention method that does not require cutting off part of your genitals and the genitals of their children. Tell them thanks, but no thanks. Demand the respect and dignity you deserve. You are human beings, not animals.

Do you have a Facebook account? Would you like to know what Soka Uncobe isn't telling you? Do you want to avoid AIDS but don't want to get circumcised? Find us on Facebook! Log on and click on the following link:

You Can Conquer Without Circumcision: Say NO to "Soka Uncobe"

1 comment:

  1. Thought you might like to know I have been putting your blogposts about Swaziland on my Facebook site and they have been getting quite a bit of reaction - not all of it favourable.