November #96 : African Bandstand - by Liz McGregor

POZ - Health, Life and HIV
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
E-newsletters
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join
Username:
Password:

Back to home » Archives » POZ Magazine issues




Table of Contents

Reversal of Fortune

Worlds Apart

There She Is...

Trial and Trial Again

Closing the Gap

African Bandstand

Pharma Adapts to ADAP

Stone Cold Killing

Hyper Activists

Who Gives a Fund?

Talkin' Turkey

Milestones

Can You Hear Me Now?

RETROPOZ: It Happened in November

Shout Out

Say What?

Paris is for HIVers

World on a (Shoe)string

Paris Scope: 6 Quick Picks from IAS

Bone UP

Bone Appétit

Guiding Light?

Quick Study: HPV and HAART

Heeling Power

Warning Signs

Drama Queen

Can Your Inner Ham

Burn, BABY, Burn

Mailbox

Sunshine State

Briefs



Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle

Shingles

Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV


email print

November 2003

African Bandstand

by Liz McGregor

A DJ adored by South Africa’s black youth discloses his HIV status on the air-and may now be dying sfter stopping his treatment

I suspected that one of South Africa’s hottest disc jockeys, Fana Khaba, was desperately ill the moment a phone call moved the location of our interview. Instead of coffee in the center of a sprawling Johannesburg mall—I was told that the man fans call Khabzela couldn’t walk that far—we’d meet in a café by the parking garage. My first look at him confirmed this: A waiter was helping him to a table from the restaurant toilet.

I was shocked at his condition. Khabzela, 36, had spun gospel and house for Gauteng Province’s black youth on station Yfm since 1999. He launched an on-air club called Positive Youth of Gauteng—with positive meaning “goal-oriented.” (A former taxi driver, Khabzela would say, “If I can do it, anyone can.”) The club rapidly developed a cult following, and Khabzela talked up HIV prevention so regularly he was dubbed “Mr. Safe Sex.”

In May, he became the country’s first celebrity with a youth following to announce—on the air, no less—that he had HIV. South Africa has the most HIVers in the world, but its official attitude on the epidemic is confusing, to say the least, and stigma is strong. Still, thousands of messages poured into the station with love and support for Khabzela. When a local newspaper printed an editorial accusing him of hypocrisy for preaching safe sex when he clearly hadn’t been practicing it, Khabzela’s supporters were so outraged that the paper published a full-page debate the next week.

Yfm bought antiretrovirals for Khabzela, who told fans he was leaving to focus on his health. Doctors agreed that meds would help dramatically. But he tried them for only a few days—and refuses to say why he stopped. Some suspect they made him feel ill, and that, like many South Africans who use traditional medicine, he is skeptical of HAART. Now, he relies on homeopathic medicine and the garlic-and-olive-oil PWA diet prescribed by controversial Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

During our meal, Khabzela said, “I’m feeling shaky. I need raw garlic.” Then, requesting olive oil, he produced a bag of homeopathic pills. They didn’t seem to be doing any good. His speech was rambling, often incoherent. One minute, he bragged of his sexual exploits: “Often I had three women in a day. I go into Soweto now and look at the girls with HIV positive children and I think: All those children are mine—mine and God’s.” The next, he was weeping: “God has struck me with lightning.” As “punishment,” he will abstain from sex for three years. “What I want is a soulmate. A woman to live with me, cook with me, pray with me. When we’re 60, we’ll retire and run a center for [people with] HIV.” He has five children with five different women but seems very alone.

Yfm had hoped he’d be able to work again, even host a new show on life with the virus. “If he could just stabilize, he could become an icon for living positively with HIV,” Yfm’s Dirk Hartford said. “But the station has a responsibility to convey a clear message to people. At the moment, Khabzela is not in a position to do that. It’s a shame, because he has so much street cred. He has this incredible ability to connect with people.”

As we finished eating, a waiter came over and touched Khabzela’s hand. “How are you, sir?” he asked, thrilled to be in the DJ’s presence. His wide grin revealed a large gap in his front teeth. “Close the garage door, man!” quipped Khabzela, offering a glimpse of his old feisty self. The waiter walked away, still smiling.

In August, South Africa’s government announced it would begin supplying HIV meds to all who need them. AIDS activist Zackie Achmat, meanwhile, has started HAART after years of refusing the expensive meds to protest their inaccessibility to most South Africans. Will these developments inspire Khabzela? Though his reluctance to take HAART is for personal reasons, his influence means his decision will have an even bigger impact on South Africa’s young people.




[Go to top]

Join POZ Facebook Twitter Google+ MySpace YouTube Tumblr Flickr
Quick Links
Current Issue

HIV Testing
Safer Sex
Find a Date
Newly Diagnosed
HIV 101
Disclosing Your Status
Starting Treatment
Help Paying for Meds
Search for the Cure
POZ Stories
POZ Opinion
POZ Exclusives
Read the Blogs
Visit the Forums
Job Listings
Events Calendar


    dambitious
    Gone
    New York


    newlife202
    JOLIET
    Illinois


    Deelight4u
    BROOKLYN
    New York


    clintonjrsyr
    syracuse
    New York
Click here to join POZ Personals!
Ask POZ Pharmacist

Talk to Us
Poll
Is HIV/AIDS adequately portrayed in pop culture?
Yes
No

Survey
Pop Watch

more surveys
Contact Us
We welcome your comments!
[ about Smart + Strong | about POZ | POZ advisory board | partner links | advertising policy | advertise/contact us | site map]
© 2014 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.