Why I’m a Brother
By Chibamba Kanyama
There comes a time when a boy becomes a man…
AIDS is a disease unlike any other. It is a social issue, a human rights issue, an economic issue. It targets young adults just as they should be contributing to economic development and bringing up young children. It is taking a disproportionate toll on women. It has made millions of our children orphans. It does to society what HIV does to the human body -- reduces resilience and weakens capacity, hampers development, and threatens stability.
All of this does not need to happen. Not today and not in this age of advanced technology, intensified research methodologies, and with the abundant skills and knowledge that we possess in our country. We have the means to prevent young people from becoming infected. We have the funding to treat those who are infected. We have the resources to provide care and support. We all have the opportunity and capacity to do our part in the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS.
This is why I am a Brother. The Brothers for Life campaign in Zambia seeks to reinforce positive behaviour and asks boys and men to stand up and take action to prevent HIV and AIDS. It also tackles gender-based violence and alcohol abuse, as well as inspiring males to improve their own health – and, by extension, the health of their families and communities.
When the National AIDS Council and UNICEF asked me to be a part of this campaign as an Ambassador, I thought there could not be a better way to give my time and encouragement to young people. Like my brother Bishop Joshua Banda says, “The success or failure of our HIV prevention efforts is determined largely by the extent of the involvement of men and boys.”
Through a series of high-profile public service announcements, Brothers for Life is taking its message to the masses. The advertisements, which encourage young men to take action to stem the spread of HIV, including knowing their status, is being disseminated via television and radio, newspaper ads, and billboards, as well as through community-based discussions and face-to-face communication.
Brothers for Life is a great concept in that it addresses gender and power relations in a new way. Brothers for Life seeks to reach boys and men in an engaging way that makes them understand the importance of doing the right thing, like never hitting a woman.
Commemorating World AIDS Day on this first day of December 2011 means that we also take time to reflect on the pandemic and how it has affected each and every one of us. Let us take the time to examine our actions, contributions, omissions, and certainly what we can do about HIV and AIDS. Please my brothers, take an HIV test regularly and know our status; always use a condom; let us not discriminate against our brothers and sisters who are living with HIV; and always drink responsibly.
I am a man and you are my brother. Do the right thing.
Chibamba Kanyama is the Director of Corporate Affairs at Zambian Breweries, a subsidiary of SABMiller. He is also an economist, motivational speaker, and an author most recently of Achievement Values-for Young Adults. For more information on Brothers for Life Zambia, please go to www.facebook.com/brothersforlifezambia or call toll free 990.