Stories of AIDS is the culmination of years of conversations, curiosities, people, and passions. The seed of this idea was planted in autumn 2008 and watered by countless health professionals, musicians, and friends both wittingly and unwittingly.
AIDS and Africa: three words which trigger a myriad of images and assumptions, but what are they? The overwhelming complexity of the greatest health epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa makes it impossible to rely on one image or make any assumption. To process such a diversity of human experiences, the best way is listening to the people themselves. For seven months myself and colleagues collected narratives from twenty-six of the most inspiring people I have ever met. They shared their loss, pain, joy, courage, and wisdom. This show features nine of those individuals through song, film, dance, and dramatic monologue. The dramatic monologues consist mostly of original or translated testimony. This show is a more holistic experience of the Stories of AIDS album. Each song’s music is intended to capture the story and in so doing, personalize an epidemic of 30 million with the personalities that constitute it.
Sales from Mau a Malawi will go toward several new creative programs to get underprivileged Malawian youth into school and learning musical and artistic skills through the arts. The Malawian registered non-profit Talents of the Malawian Child (TOMC) is the principal instrument for overseeing these programs and is an organization founded and directed by Peter Mawanga. TOMC seeks to directly engage children through music enrichment programs such as music lessons, music camps, a national children's music festival, and more. These programs are intended to endow them with tangible skills for a career working in the arts. TOMC works with the Malingunde School for the Blind, the Mpemba Reform School for Boys, street children, and children orphaned through AIDS.
AIDS is not just Africa’s epidemic. It is global. We wish to generate cross-cultural dialogue between the world’s many individuals who are singularly connected through this virus. But as Malawi has taught us, it’s not just the HIV-positive people who are affected. AIDS cuts through the fabric of every layer of life: cultural, sexual, socioeconomic, and gender. The breadth of its infection reflects the depth of the social behavior that has brought us to an epidemic, implicating all of us. The “AIDS story” is the “human story,” one defined more by emotions than statistics. Stories are the most inspiring way to change the world and change the public perception of AIDS. We wish to impart a story and moreover, a narrative of hope and resilience about AIDS-something to put the fire in your belly. Stories through music stir the soul and invite the heart to do something. It is our hope if nothing else you will be inspired by our music. We have been tremendously inspired by these people.
-Andrew Finn Magill (co-producer of Stories of AIDS)
An amazing and inspiring atmosphere of musical experimentation is what you get when you bring together musicians from different continents. I like to describe this as the first musical expedition of its kind to ever come out of the warm heart of Africa. HIV/AIDS is a true reality in Malawi and in many parts of Africa, but because of the stigmatization of people infected or affected with HIV/AIDS, speaking about it or opening up about one’s status is usually considered a taboo.
Finally, because of an idea that was first shared via cyber space, we share this musical documentation of true stories of people living with HIV/AIDS told by the people infected and affected by this disease in my motherland Malawi/Africa.
-Peter Mawanga (Co-producer of Stories of AIDS)