"Moitshepi made a carving and a lino cut of the Thunderbird story, on his return to his village in Botswana after participating within Africa 95 in the U.K.. He felt it was important to question what real power is, in his search to find a way to end the terrible suffering within his community (as a result of HIV/AIDS/TB and poverty). Moitshepi asked me to share his images and his stories whenever I had the opportunity; I told him I would do so...." Rachel Chapple, PhD. (anthropologist, UK).
I was told this story by my friend, who was told the story by his uncle. They live in a village on the other side of Botswana; a village known for suffering from terrible rains. I could see my friend was telling me the truth when he told me this story. I saw it in his eyes. The way he held his hands. He felt afraid. And so did I.
The story is about a bird, the simple catcher of blue-headed geckoes, which was transformed one day into the Thunderbird. The Thunderbird possesses enormous power, terrible power, devastating lightening. The traditional doctors within my friend's village, have the power to command the Thunderbird. They are able to tell it where to go, what to destroy; who to make sick with HIV and who to kill with AIDS.
The Thunderbird is only found within places, and in many villages within Botswana, that suffer from terrible rains. Although my village feels the heavy rains and flooding, we do not have such terrible rains; ones that herald the arrival of more than emergency tents and food. May be one day such rains will arrive within my village - and with them the Thunderbird will enter into our homes and lives. I pray that day will never come; although I know, I feel, it is flying close by.
I have thought about this story I have told you, whilst I created my art work. When I make my pictures I have time to really think and reflect. Today, although I cannot be certain, I do believe it is not the Thunderbird that is bad or evil. Rather it is man's imagination and his desire. It is man that makes the Thunderbird cause terrible things to happen. I think it would be better, yes much better, far better, if people used their imaginations and desires, to do something really, really powerful. Like stop the destruction and bring an end to our sickness and dying from HIV and AIDS. Yes, I believe, that would be the most powerful thing the traditional doctors could do.
Response to this submission by Visitor:
"The Story Told" by Mphutlamane Wa Bofelo (poet, South Africa)
++Author's note: the poem illustrates the denialism that is fueled by stigma within the community, making people to resort to blaming witchcraft and everything else for the deaths of the victims of AIDS instead of facing the truth. It also makes a statement about extra marital unprotected sexual intercourse as one of the major causes for the spread of HIV / AIDS.
June's baby died because
Infant meat wets the appetite
Of granny the wizard
Its mother is actually not dead
The old witch never touches a broom
But her house and yard are sparkling clean
At the unholy hours of the night
You can hear her furniture dancing
A grass-cutter moaning on her lawn
June's husband was failed by his heart
Seeing his wife and child die
At the hands of his own mother
Punctured him to pint-size
As for his diminutive
Former voluminous mistress
She's dying from food poisoning
Everybody knows she started spewing blood
After eating food at June's husband's funeral
Her celebrity husband has lost weight
Due to being over stressed
By too many performances
And the invasion on his life
By the peeping Toms & prying cameras