Fana Khaba aka Khabzela was a hugely popular DJ on the Gauteng youth radio station Yfm when he became ill with Aids. He refused to take life-saving anti-retroviral medication and died in 2005 at the age of 35. McGregor investigates his life to understand why he made this choice and uncovers a history that mirrored that of his country. He grew up as part of the 1976 Soweto generation, with tanks in the schoolyard and AK47s in the classrooms. With the release of Mandela in 1990, he DJ-ed the parties that took over the streets of Soweto, dancing to a new tune, kwaito. He took kwaito to the embryonic youth radio station, Yfm, and he and they exploded into the big-time as the voice of the Y generation, trying to find their place in a new world where, suddenly, anything was possible. Khabzela, spurned by girls as a boy because he was plain and poor, suddenly found them flocking. He took full advantage – and fell prey to the epidemic.
“One of the most important books written since the advent of the country’s democracy. McGregor avoids seeking the single cause of infection, denial, fear and death. Khabzela is a moving and complex account of masculinity, culture, tradition, class, race, religion and politics in the age of HIV/Aids.” Zackie Achmat, chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign.
“Liz McGregor’s account of the choices and circumstances that caused this talented and visionary young man to die, when he could have had life, is riveting and deeply moving.” Judge Edwin Cameron, author of Witness to Aids.
“Through the compelling story of one remarkable life, this book carefully probes the complexity of South Africa’s agonising struggle to combat Aids. It will open many minds to many of the issues, from the most personal to the political, which are at the heart of the crisis triggered by this disease. It is a deeply thought-provoking account of how a country lives with Aids.” Madeleine Bunting of the Guardian.
“A yardstick for understanding the complexities and contradictions of HIV as it infects and affects South Africans. A book of massive significance.” Jennifer Crocker, Fair Lady.
“A fascinating investigation into the enormous tragedy facing the country.” Margaret von Klemperer, The Witness.