In 2004, journalist Jonah Eller-Isaacs spent six months traveling alone through sub-Saharan Africa. While living with local families and working with newfound friends, he recorded music of a surprising nature. He found that residents were using music as an effective tool in fighting HIV and AIDS.
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An Impoverished Nation
Malawi is a nation in Southeast Africa that consistently ranks as one of the world's five poorest. The HIV/AIDS pandemic darkens this countryside of mango, bluegum and acacia trees. You see the impact of the virus everywhere, from the thousands of orphaned children, to the untended fields of corn withering under the equatorial sun.
Hip Hop Warriors
The nation of Tanzania dwarfs Malawi, its southern neighbor. With over 125 ethnic groups, Tanzania is a country of dramatic extremes, from noisy, crowded cities like the capital of Dar es Salaam to the serene quiet of some of the world's best-known wildlife parks like the Serengeti and the Ngorogoro Crater. Tanzania is also suffering under the burden of AIDS.
Songs of Forgotten Children
Kenya hasn't yet seen an explosion of HIV cases, and infection rates have held steady at an estimated 7 percent. But Kenya is still plagued by the stigma, fear and discrimination that accompany the virus throughout East Africa and much of the world. Mothers can lose their children to fearful in-laws. Some people refuse to speak to or touch their relatives living with the virus.
A National Transformation
In the early 1990s, this nation was ravaged by the AIDS epidemic. In some regions, infection rates were as high as 30%. It's now one of the developing world's few success stories in fighting AIDS. It's gone from having the world's highest HIV infection rate in 1991, to one estimated today at under 7% - still dangerous, but far more manageable.
HIV/AIDS presents a unique challenge to each nation in "Singing in the Shadow of AIDS." Detailed information about the four countries highlighted in the piece can be found here.
Read about the countries
Delve deeper into the lives of people featured in "Singing in the Shadow of AIDS" with extended interviews.
Listen to audio
Listen to musical highlights from "Singing in the Shadow of AIDS" and hear more music from throughout East Africa, including field recordings from Malawi and Tanzanian hip-hop.
During his travels throughout Africa, journalist Jonah Eller-Isaacs occasionally sent personal "dispatches" to friends and family via e-mail. They provide an interesting insight into Eller-Isaacs' experiences and his own perspective while he gathered information for the "Singing in the Shadow of AIDS" project.
Read Jonah's dispatches.
Information about organizations mentioned in "Singing in the Shadow of AIDS" is available here. You can also find links to information about the international HIV/AIDS pandemic, African Hip-Hop and a reading list.
See a list of resources and links.
Reporter: Jonah Eller-Isaacs
Producer: Brian Newhouse
Technical Director: Alan Stricklin
Editor: Don Lee
Online Producer: Michael Wells
Online Editor: Melanie Sommer
Web design: Ben Tesch