Set in rural KwaZulu Natal in 2003, this movie chronicles the journey of a young woman as she discovers she is HIV positive. The story is a tragedy that highlights discrimination and stigmatisation that exists around HIV/AIDS. It also touches on the struggles of a young woman caught up between traditional medicine (the sangoma played by Nandi Nyembe) and modern medicine (the doctor played by Camilla Walker).
Yesterday (Leleti Khumalo) is a typical rural wife. Her husband (Kenneth Kambule) has gone to work in the city of bright lights, Johannesburg. He works in the mines and leaves his wife behind in the rural areas to take care of their daughter, Beauty (Lihle Mvelase). During this time, Yesterday discovers she is HIV positive. She has never been unfaithful so she could only have gotten it from her husband. She travels all the way to Johannesburg to talk to him about her predicament. When she confronts him about it, he beats her up. She returns home to KwaZulu Natal to be with her daughter. Her only wish before death takes her is to see her daughter start school the following year.
Months pass and she doesn’t hear from her husband until one day she returns home from the fields only to find him sitting outside. He is in the final stages of the illness and he is looking terrible. Yesterday takes him in and cares for him like the loving devoted wife she has always been. The rest of the village wants him to leave because he is HIV positive. All her so-called friends abandon her except one lady, a teacher (Harriet Manamela) from the local school. Eventually her husband dies and summer starts and her daughter begins school.
Watching this movie made me think about my life and how I would react if this ever happened to me. What I know for sure is that Yesterday is a better woman than me. My husband infects me, beats me up and when he is sick wants me to take care of him!!!! At this moment in time, I know I would not react like Yesterday.
Perhaps when I am married things will be different and my views may change but right now all I know is that I would never let him back into my life. Besides the life long illness he has given me, I don’t think I would have it within me to forgive him. If Yesterday was angry, she didn’t let it show. If she was hurting, she hid it really well. And I don’t think I could do that.
HIV/AIDS is one of those topics that I am passionate. So many people, young and old are dying from this disease. And I believe that we can do something about the situation. We hear the same messages over and over and over again and we are taught about it from high school yet people still get infected. It’s probably one of those situations that everybody says it could never happen to me until it does. And this mindset has to change! We need to be more responsible for our lives.
The lessons I did learn from this movie are to speak out and challenge language that stigmatizes, or serves to discriminate against, people living with HIV and AIDS. The secrecy resulting from stigma prevents people from accessing life-saving treatment and support.
I’m doing my part. And I hope you will too.
- Practice abstinence – you could choose to delay your first experience of sex
- Know your HIV status. Get tested and encourage others, including your partner(s) to get tested
- Stick with one partner and talk with your partner about doing the same
- Plan ahead – ensure a condom or femidom is always available
- Educate others. Share what you’ve learnt