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The Culture of AIDS in AfricaHope and Healing Through Music and the Arts$
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Gregory Barz and Judah Cohen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199744473

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199744473.001.0001

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Swahili AIDS Plays

Swahili AIDS Plays

A Challenge to the Aristotelian Theory on Tragedy

(p.256) 21 Swahili AIDS Plays
The Culture of AIDS in Africa

Aldin K. Mutembei

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the contributions of individual playwrights in the fight against AIDS in Tanzania. It analyzes two Swahili AIDS-themed plays, Ushuhuda wa Mifupa (The Skeleton’s Testimony, 1990) and Kilio Chetu (Our Lament, 1996), using an Aristotelian framework. It argues that the Aristotelian theory on tragedy presents several challenges for the portrayal of AIDS within Swahili drama. In addition to changing narrative forms, the chapter shows how individual playwrights speak to their audiences through culturally specific dramatic metaphors, providing a critical local gloss on HIV/AIDS and its constituent discourses. It also highlights similarities between the themes of the mid-1970s and the current theme of AIDS in Swahili literature and concludes by raising questions that will require further research into the social ramifications of this pandemic.

Keywords:   playwrights, Tanzania, plays, Ushuhuda wa Mifupa, Kilio Chetu, tragedy, drama, metaphors, HIV/AIDS, Swahili literature

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