Fiction for Young Adults

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Barnard, Patricia


The Struggler

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: Macmillan Aidan, 2003. 32 p. ISBN 9987-37-011-X. Ages 8-14.

Language: Kiswahili

Publisher: Macmillan Aidan

Originally published in southern Africa, this story is aimed at educating youth about the dangers of HIV/AIDS as the spoiler of careers and hopes. Set in Tanzania, it is the story of Heri, who works hard at his studies and sports in elementary school. He is motivated by his brother, Alfred, the breadwinner of the family and a role model for the youth. However, Heri has to contend with the seductive behaviour of a sex-starved girl, Gloria. When Gloria ambushes Heri at the beginning of the story, he has to literally hide in the toilet until she goes to class. Later, at a birthday party, Heri dances intimately with her, but manages to extricate himself from her aggressive lovemaking. At the end of the school term, a nurse is invited to speak to the students about HIV/AIDS. Heri is glad he did not give in to Gloria, who defiantly denies the existence of the disease. Meanwhile, Heri and his mother receive the sad news that Alfred is infected with AIDS, and he later dies from it. Heri now knows firsthand that AIDS is a killer. After working diligently, he gets a job and takes his brother’s place as the breadwinner of the family.

Mhangaikaji will sensitise young readers to the HIV/AIDS pandemic that is currently ravaging Africa. The story will also motivate students to work hard at their studies in order to secure a good future. These messages are couched in a simple plot and narrated in good Kiswahili. The book includes factual information about HIV/AIDS and comprehension questions and answers about the disease.


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