Mashayabhuqe, meaning 'it hits everything" was the word originally used by isiZulu speakers to describe the notorious apartheid hit squads of the early 1990s. By the mid-1990's, people living in KwaZulu Natal were using it to describe the effects of the AIDS epidemic.

There are two different versions of this film, both directed by Lesley Lawson and produced by Robyn Hofmeyr and Jenny Hunter of Teaching Screens.

Mashayabhuqe 1996: The 1996 version was commissioned by Interfund, an international NGO funding consortium, for the purpose of educating grant recipients about the South African HIV epidemic. Interfund was supporting a wide range of community-based and non-governmental organizations working on poverty reduction, land rights, education, housing, gender and human rights.

The 52-minute film described the impact of the HIV epidemic on the communities served by these organizations. It traversed the country, highlighting the effect the epidemic was already having in urban and rural areas, and giving voice to people living with HIV in all income, race and geographical groups. It also included interviews with organisational leaders who were trying to understand the future impact of HIV on their work.

At this time South Africa's epidemic was largely in the HIV phase, with relatively few people ill or dying from the disease. As a result there was very little awareness of HIV, despite the fact that over ten percent of pregnant women were testing HIV positive in the annual antenatal HIV survey. The prologue of my book Side Effects describes the journey of discovery that informed this film.

The film was accompanied by a 72-page booklet that described the development impacts of the epidemic, and a worksheet designed for group work.

Mashayabhuqe1998: The 1998 version was a 50-minute film made for broadcast on etv on World AIDS Day of that year. In the two years since the first version, South Africa's epidemic had moved into a phase where large numbers of people were falling ill and dying of the disease. People living with HIV had also begun to organise and play an important role in advocacy and public education. The film was updated with dispatches from the killing fields of AIDS – from health professionals to people living with HIV, from a rural hospice to urban support groups. It also documented the first stage in the controversy about the (then new) therapy to reduce the transmission of HIV from mother to child (PMTCT). In October 1998 the South African Minister of Health had rejected a proposal to offer PMTCT in the public sector, in favour of a ramped-up behavioural prevention programme.

Read the Prologue of Side Effects.

Clips from Mashayabhuqe

Siza's story

Nonhlanhla's story

Peter's story

Ndwedwe adoption

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