By Sinqobile Ndlovu-Tessa
Unity Dow in the US to give lecture and promote new book.
BOTSWANA’S former High Court judge and human rights activist, Unity Dow who is currently in the United States of America, will next week Tuesday give a public lecture titled: “Walled off into Isolation—when rights hurt the rights holders: Ethical Issues around HIV/AIDS.”
Dow’s lecture comes against the release of a book she co-authored with Max Essex, a Professor of Health Sciences at the US Harvard University and Chair of the Harvard AIDS Initiative.
The book, Saturday Is For Funerals explores both the science and the personal stories behind the AIDS epidemic in southern Africa.
According to the Harvard University website, the idea of Saturday Is for Funerals’ came from Essex’s frustration when he couldn’t fi nd a book that dealt with both the science of AIDS and the epidemic’s profound consequences for individuals and entire societies.
“I had been teaching an undergraduate course called “AIDS in Africa.” I thought the material could be made more compelling for both students and the general public if they came to the material by sharing in the emotional episodes of real-life stories about how AIDS affected families in Africa.”
Not finding the book he needed, Essex decided to write it himself. Explaining science comes easily to him, but he realized he couldn’t write the book alone.
“I needed someone who understood the culture and would ‘tell it like it is.’ I had read a couple of Unity’s earlier books. It seemed obvious
that she was the one.”
Commenting on the title of the book, Dow said Saturday Is For Funerals is a phrase that she used stating a fact in her life and because at the height of the epidemic on Saturdays whole villages were clusters of hymn-singing groups.
“When one planned any event or was invited to an event, there was always the rider, ‘if there is no funeral’. It became common to expect last minute excuses for any event taking place on a Saturday,’’ she said.
Besides her human rights activism, Dow is also a well-known constitutional lawyer.
In 2010 she was appointed as a judge on the Interim Constitutional Court of Kenya whose mandate is to hear cases arising from Kenya’s constitutional review process.