Parlare di pandemia a bambini e adolescenti: la letteratura swahili nella prevenzione e lotta all’HIV/AIDS in Kenya e Tanzania

  • Graziella Acquaviva University of Turin


Since the early 1980s, when the first cases of HIV/AIDS infection were detected in East Africa, local governments have acted in cooperation with international agencies in order to prevent a larger diffusion of the virus through information and prevention campaigns aimed in particular to fighting prejudices, stigma and discrimination against the sick individuals and their families.

Children and adolescents make up the age group most vulnerable to contagion. How do you let somebody who is sexually active but not yet an adult understand how ae virus is transmitted? And which intervention can be put in place with an aim at the well-being of school-age children?

Most of all, from a strictly cultural perspective, what is the role played by literature in the collective effort to stop the spread of an invisible enemy that keeps claiming its victims?

What are the common man’s perceptions in this regard, and what else can change them into words and images – except a writer’s pen and a poet’s sensibility?

These are the questions addressed, admittedly with no exhaustivity, by this study: a study voicing the fear and trauma created by a pandemic infection.


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Author Biography

Graziella Acquaviva, University of Turin

Graziella Acquaviva holds a PhD in African Studies from the University of Naples “L’Orientale” and is currently a fixed-term (Senior) Researcher in Swahili Language and Literature at the University of Turin. She has done extensive field research in Tanzania and Kenya on Swahili popular literature and has many publications in the field of African literature. She translated Collodi’s Le avventure di Pinocchio: Storia di un burattino (1883) and Carofiglio’s Testimone inconsapevole (2002) from Italian into Swahili (Hekaya za Pinokio and Shahidi asiyekusudiwa). She teaches Swahili Language, culture and literature at the University of Turin. She can be reached at: