Fiction for Young Adults

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Evans, Margaret

Laiti Ningejua!

Had I Known!


Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: Macmillan Aidan, 2003. 30 p. ISBN 9987-629-79-2. Ages 10-16.


Language: Kiswahili


Publisher: Macmillan Aidan


Summary
Originally published in southern Africa, this book is part of a series aimed at educating youth on the dangers of HIV/AIDS through stories they can identify with. Laiti Ningejua! presents the lives of four youngsters: Issa and his friend Godfrey, and Fatuma and Juliet, two girls who are Issa’s classmates in upper-primary school. Godfrey, a fun-loving guitarist and a ladies’ man, wins the admiration of both girls after being introduced to them by Issa, and he even makes love to Juliet. When Issa learns that Godfrey is interested in Fatuma also, he rushes to warn her of the danger. But Fatuma is hurt, thinking that Issa is merely envious of his friend. It soon becomes apparent that Godfrey is a womaniser. Juliet, much to her chagrin, discovers that he is cheating on her. Fatuma, recognising Issa’s good character, befriends him and a Platonic love develops between them. Later, Juliet calls Fatuma to tell her that she has been infected with the HIV virus and that Godfrey is the culprit. Juliet takes a positive attitude to living with the virus, and becomes an activist who educates people on the dangers of HIV/AIDS. She even records a song entitled “Laiti Ningejua” (Had I Known). The story ends with Juliet looking for Godfrey, so that she can tell him that he has HIV, and therefore prevent him from infecting others.

Commentary
An educational story on the dangers of AIDS, Laiti Ningejua! will also motivate youngsters to develop a steady relationship with the opposite sex without engaging in intercourse. The book includes facts about HIV/AIDS and comprehension questions and answers about the disease. The descriptions are accurate, as are the black-and-white illustrations. The story is recommended (in Tanzania) for students in Standards 4-7, that is, for ages 8-14.

 

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