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Elaine Maane’s book – my thoughts

UmzalaUmzala – a woman’s story of living with HIV

“I knew that, no matter what the circumstances, I had to carry on by gathering strength for my own sake and for the little boy who was too small to truly know or understand what was going on” Elaine Maane, on her decision to accept her HIV status

When I first met Elaine Maane I found her to be a humble, soft spoken trainer who
like most HIV/ AIDS activists, works tirelessly because of her dedication to the cause. Imagine my surprise on reading her life story and discovering the achievements and strides this young woman has made for HIV positive women and men in Southern Africa. Elaine’s efforts have
taken her to Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania.

Elaine was not only the one who inspired the Mothers to Mothers Programme in Cape Town, but she is also a founding member of Positive Living. Despite her achievements, she remains down to earth.

In her book, Elaine describes her reaction on discovering that she had contracted HIV during her marriage. She discusses her assumptions (and those of many other married people she knew) who believed they were safe
within marriage. She describes the misperception that most people have to this day – that only promiscuous people are vulnerable to HIV. We sit next to her son after she has gathered enough courage while to disclose her HIV status to him. We experience her relief when the rest of her family and friends choose to accept her after her disclosure. We share the anguish of losing loved ones and fellow HIV/AIDS activists to AIDS, and the joy of those whose health improves after they agree to take antiretroviral medication.

Although this book seems like easy reading, the subject matter can be upsetting and a little too close to home for those who have been close to an HIV positive loved one. However, the choice to make something of her life and pursue her dreams is what makes all the emotions you experience while reading this book worthwhile. Elaine’s story shows us the human side of HIV, the daily struggles, the joys and the triumphs of those living with HIV and AIDS.

At the back of the book are lessons and questions for discussion based on the experiences of Elaine and others who have crossed her path.

Topics of the lessons include stigma, denial, acceptance, disclosure, taking ARVs and dealing with the side effects amongst others. This book is a precious resource that can inform and inspire any person who would like to learn more about the HIV/AIDS pandemic including Community Development workers in the field of HIV/AIDS.

Book details

mental health at the workplace

Dear all,

I’m going to be writing about mental health at the workplace and the kind of support that we could get from the employer or colleagues.

That said, I’m just wondering if any of you have any experience of mood disorders or have writtten anything like this before? and also if so what are your thoughts?

Should the empolyer provide this kind of support or would you say its best for people to just go home when they are depressed or having some kind of other mood disorder?

Literacy in Africa?

So I am just about to start reading my fourth book this year, on average I read one book a month. I tried to do some research on literacy in Namibia and there was hardly anything worth noting here on the internet.

Just out of curiosity, and because I’m too tired at the moment to wade through websites, does anyone else have any idea about literacy rates in Africa? Or rather what is it like in your country?

Even though there are bookshops galore where I live, I am not sure how many people really do read. All my male friends that I asked about this said they are not into reading unless its the sports pages. I asked a friend what he does in his spare time and he mentioned Formula one etc. at which point I stopped listening. My female friends on the other hand (well about half of them) do make time to read and buy books regularly.

At the launch of the Budding Writers Society of Namibia last year, the Master of proceedings mentioned something sad and scary to alert guests about the low rates of literacy in Namibia. He said” if you want to hide something from a Black person, put it in a book”…

We all laughed because even though it is so sad, we knew its true.

Anyway I’m reading a book published very recently in Cape Town by a dear friend Elaine Maane.

Will definitely post something about my thoughts of the book soon…

New womens’ magazine, OSHO, launched in Namibia – looking for writers!

At work on OSHO... At work on OSHO... At work on OSHO...

OSHOOSHO meaning “that’s what it is” is a publication which falls under the Shonga group:

OSHO magazine is a lifestyle magazine for Women of Africa. The magazine communicates, celebrates and reflects the world of African women from all walks of life. Our readership is focused towards forward thinking African women who are are looking for change and growth. She is looking to network with other women, looking for a platform to help others, and to celebrate all aspects of what it means to be an African woman.

The third issue will be launched at the end of February 2009 at the official launch of the magazine. On the same day, additional initiatives will be launched including the Health and Beauty Sections, Finance, the OSHO book club and much more!

Thus far the magazine has received support from members of the public, partners working in the different sections as well as banks, advertising agencies and many more to whom we are very grateful.

The first OSHO contributors meeting was held on 7th February 2009 at Cafe Zinho.Many thanks to Zita for being such a gracious host! The meeting was held to introduce contributors to staff, begin brainstorming on themes for the next three months as well as to brief contributors on guidelines for submission of articles. Finally, contributors were given some feedback on focus group discussions and an opportunity to ask the research company what kind of information they need from readers.

To view pictures of OSHO magazine staff and contributors, pictures of the cover and much more please visit our page on facebook:OSHO Womens Magazine

For our next issue we are looking for writers from the following countries: Kenya, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. If you are interested in writing for us and are based in one of those countries please email the editor:

happy holidays all!

Dear Book SA bloggers,

Just a quick note to say happy holidays! Many thanks for all your comments, support and posts.

Best wishes!

The joys of being a modern woman

During my late lunch today I announced that I was tired of being a modern woman. My brother looked at me as if I was speaking Chinese and asked me “what is a modern woman?”

I proceeded to explain that the modern woman wakes up on Sunday morning November 21st and rushes to Sunday school (where she is a teacher). She arrives 30 minutes late and even has second thoughts about going when she looks at the time and how late it is as she speeds out of her driveway.

She gets to Sunday school, everybody else is too busy to notice that she is late or they are used to it! All the same rehearsal for the nativity play (that same evening) goes well. After seeing off what feels like hundreds of little children and having a last minute talk about the play with the head Sunday school teacher she leaves the church. She rushes to the closest mall to buy breakfast because of course, she did not eat before speeding off at 8:45am. Then she remembers she needs to buy a card for the head Sunday school teacher to accompany the gift being bought by another teacher after the performance tonight.

Thereafter she takes a leisurely drive home, has a healthy breakfast (yoghurt, watermelon and a glass of water). After breakfast she remembers she put some clothes in the washing machine which need to go on the washing line. While putting in the new load she realises there is no lunch for her elderly father who has been doing manual labour in the garden all morning. Under the blazing Namibian sun as well!

She asks him what he would like for lunch and gets to ready to start preparing the meal. Luckily for her, he agrees to prepare his own lunch if she can defrost the chicken and cut up the vegetables. Relieved, she leaves the chopped up vegetables on the kitchen counter and rushes off to drop her car at the car wash while she is getting a hair cut, because her hair is starting to look ridiculous! Her hair is in that ‘not very short but not long enough to do anything exciting with it’ stage – so she is actually looking forward to cutting her hair for the fifth time this year, even though many people tell her women with short hair are not fully women and are not beautiful. Despite this, she decides that she is happy with short hair, it makes her look different and feel special.

At the car wash her usual car wash guy is absent and even though she can’t stand how dirty the outside of her car looks, she is not keen to leave it with someone that she does not know. After contemplating for two minutes (she doesn’t have more time than that to decide) she opts to get the hair cut and take the car another day.

The hair cut is relatively quick and done very well, so the 28 year old modern woman is satisfied. After lunch, she remembers that she needs to update two blogs, pack for her business trip tomorrow morning and pop into the office if she gets time.

There are three hours before the play and she realises her best bet is to finish off laundry because she will not get to it next week. She cancels her plans for lunch and plans to visit her God daughter as there is still too much to do. She has 25 minutes to get ready and rush to get the kids ready for their performance. She takes off ten minutes to write a funny post about the madness that is her life on one of her blogs.

She has a headache because she leaves everything to the last day and thinks about how her Mom would never be this disorganised. Then she asks her (half wit) brother how women with families cope?
He still looks at her like she is an alien because of course, he can’t relate because (a) he is not interested (b) is lazy and (c) has nothing to worry about besides school and where he will get his next sugar fix from.

Tonight when she gets home which could be anytime after 9pm depending on when they have finished cleaning up, she needs to iron only what she will wear during the week – no time for the rest. She will also pack the latest email from her editor because in the midst of the madness, she had somewhere along the way decided to write a book.

She is alot a little anxious because she is going to East Africa in three weeks and has not finalised any of her arrangements or bought any gifts. Could the rest of you please tell this modern young woman what your secret is, because today she feels like she is a pathetic example of the modern woman…

Budding Writers Society of Namibia launch a success!

    Budding Writers Society of Namibia officially launched

The Budding Writers Society was successfully launched in Windhoek, Namibia on the 31st October 2008. The launch took place at the Garden Lounge of the National Theatre of Namibia.

Representatives from some of the local schools, various organizations, members of the public, published authors and poets as well as the media were present. In addition, representatives of the main sponsors of the event, Nedbank Namibia and Macmillan Publishers were also at the event.

The launch was officially opened by the Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Vickson Hangula. Two poems were read by aspiring authors that are also members of the executive committee of the society (Jemima Beukes and Viviane Kandundu).

The keynote speech was presented by Ms. Neshani Andreas, author of The purple violet of Oshaantu. The evening was closed with a vote of thanks and a toast to the new society.

The launch was well attended and opened many doors for the society. An offer was made to design and maintain a website, free of charge, for the Budding Writers Society and it should be up and running in January 2009. Macmillan publishers offered to publish an anthology of poetry by local poets from the society. The challenge for the society is to select the poems for publishing by the end of 2009.

Currently the society is compiling a database of contacts including members, editors, publishers and proof readers. The calendar of events for 2009 has been compiled and will be posted on bwnamibia soon. It includes many exciting activities such as peer reviews, creative writing workshops and much more! To the executive of the society, good luck and well done on an enjoyable and successful evening!

Pictures from Women of Courage writing workshop

Enjoy these snaps from the Women of Courage writing workshop held recently:



Women of Courage writing workshop very succesful

Womens’ Leadership Centre – Courage writing workshop
24 – 25 October 2008

The Womens’ Leadership Centre (WLC) hosted a two day workshop for women interested in writing stories for their upcoming anthology with the theme: Courage and risk taking in our lives.

Below participants from the workshop during discussions:

The workshop was hosted by the Director of the WLC, Elizabeth lKhaxas, who is a feminist and also conducts writing workshops. After introductions participants were given a brief introduction to other material published by the WLC. Thus far the WLC has published two anthologies of writing by Namibian women, in 2005 and 2008 respectively. In addition, women infected and affected with HIV have been trained in Photography and a book of photographs was published depicting pictures from their everyday lives.

Below a picture of Elizabeth holding one of the anthologies:

In 2008, six workshops were conducted in other regions around Namibia. This workshop was the seventh. The aim of the workshops is to get the silent stories in the lives of Namibian women out. We were asked to think deeply about our own lives and to share our experiences during the workshop.

We started with a definition of courage as well as listing emotions or feelings associated with courage. A few of the emotions or feelings suggested: fear, strength, hope, doubt, overcoming, power, persistence, determination, loss, respect and healing.

Thereafter we were asked to share some acts of courage in our lives to personalize the emotions and feelings with which we could relate.

On the second day women were given an opportunity share two or three of the stories that were written and get some feedback from the rest of the group about content and structure of our stories which was exciting and very helpful.

Below, two of the participants sharing what they had written with the rest of the women:

The workshop was well received by participants and in fact we are hoping we can meet together again as women, just to share and learn from each other. We are so grateful to Emily, Sonja, Marna and Elizabeth for organising this workshop for us.

A final group photo before concluding the workshop:

Activities calendar for Budding Writers Society of Namibia – being planned

Hi all,

I am busy planning the activities for next years budding writers society as we willl need to present a calendar for 2009 at the launch.

Any ideas of the activities that we could have next year which could help budding writers?

Also, any chance that any one of you esteemed writers would be interested in presenting something in Namibia during the course of next year?

I think there are so many amazing resource people on this site and would love to see us get one or even two people to come for a couple of days (flight is not usually onger than 2 hours) and share your experiences with us.

We are currently working on getting sponsorship for the society so hopefully we could try to owrk something out in terms of travel expenses.

Some of the topics which I would hope to see the society look at next year in talks, readings by authors/ aspiring writers; discussions or interviews include getting published; publishing for women; poetry workshops; E publishing and blogging, amongst others.

Hope to hear from anyone of you soon…