In class today, we watched the movie Yesterday. This movie is about a South African mother who develops HIV/AIDS. Yesterday lives in a rural village with her daughter, Beauty, while her husband works in the mines in Johannesburg. Yesterday makes the decision that she will stay alive long enough to watch her daughter go to school; something she never got to do herself.
This movie showed us a lot about modern day South Africa and the roles women play. Yesterday lives in the rural village of Rooihoek. She spends the days tilling the field, fetching water from the one pump in the village, cutting firewood, and washing clothes in the river. She must take care of all of this and her daughter while her husband works. The husband only comes home every few months. It is implied that the husband contracts the virus while he is away and gives it to Yesterday when he visits.
When Yesterday is finally able to see the doctor, she is surprised it is a white woman who speaks Zulu. She treats the doctor with respect as she calls her madam and looks down when talking to her. This scene is also crucial in showing the lack of education available to black South Africans in rural villages. Yesterday is unable to read or write, and is confused when the doctor tries to explain “drawing blood.”
Another scene that shows how women are treated is when Yesterday goes to Johannesburg to find her husband to tell him the news. He takes it very badly and doesn’t believe her. As he beats her, the supervisor looks into the room, and then looks away.
I thought this movie was a good representation of what is happening in South Africa today. I searched the statistics of HIV/AIDS in South Africa, and was shocked at what I found. South Africa is believed to have more people with this virus than any other country in the world. An estimated 5.7 million South Africans have HIV/AIDS, or just fewer than 12% of the population.
When we travel to South Africa, we will meet many people. Out of these people, some may be infected by this virus, but we will not know. It is hard to picture or understand something that does not directly affect us, but I plan on keeping that fact in mind when we travel to South Africa.