Oby Obyerodhyambo Sheds Light on HIV/AIDS Epidemic Among Youth

Oby Obyerodhyambo wants this generation to realize that people under 25 have “never known a world without AIDS.” Last Friday, Oby Obyerodhyambo delivered a lecture called, “Public Health and the Role of Young People in Effecting Behavioral Change in Outreach Communities,” sponsored by the African Student Union. Obyerodhyambo began by telling the audience in Kemper that, from a young age, he “had fallen in love with literature” and writing plays. In Kenya, Obyderodhyambo coordinates “Scenarios from Africa,” a project that collects short plays about HIV/AIDS awareness from African youths. From the play submissions, only a handful are made into short skits for an African audience, intended to educate the youth of Africa in a funny, entertaining way, he said. Obyderodhyama said, “How many of your parents have ever talked to you and told you not to do something in a serious tone? Has it worked? No, right?” In the lecture, Obyderodhyama showed four skits from Scenarios from Africa. Ijeoma Ejiogu ’11 said, “The videos depicted different scenarios on how one can contract the AIDS virus. Typically, each video had an underlying message or moral.” The first skit depicted a young woman receiving advice from an aunt about men and relationships. Olivia Howell ’11 said, “[Obyerodhyambo] demonstrated the importance in enforcing communication between older generations and younger generations in order to provide more information about the disease to those who are at risk.” The second skit featured a woman discussing how she hoped to date a man who was brave enough to take the test an HIV test. The third skit showed a young woman whose friend is HIV positive. In the fourth skit, two young orphan boys discussed how AIDS had taken the lives of their family members and loved ones. Elly Nyamwaya, Instructor in English, said that he invited Obyerodhyambo “because I felt he had a wealth of knowledge to share about being a community mobilizer. It was also important for the community to get an African perspective on community service and outreach.” Nyamwaya added that Obyderodhyama had surprised him with some of the statistics regarding HIV/AIDS. “Historically AIDS is a young disease, but most of the audience has never known a world without AIDS,” said Nyamwaya. Noelina Nakiguli ’09, President of the African Student Union (ASU), said, “We, as youth in this world, have to take our knowledge and experience and use it to educate the rest of the world. “ She added, “As a community, we have to do more than just listen. We need to put [Obyerodhyambo’s] advice into practice. And we need to do the best we can to affect the statistics.” Kemi Amuraiywe ’11 “After I was talking to [Obyerodhyambo] about the statistics, he told me that African women living in America are the most at risk. That was a huge shock to me.” Amuraiywe ’11 said, “[Obyerodhyambo’s] messages were of great value. The topics that he discussed were relevant in today’s world and therefore really important. When I was talking to him after the event, he told me that if we needed more information we could contact him. I thought that this showed he really cared about his messages.” Nyamwaya said that, after the presentation, he spoke to Obyerodhyambo, who seemed grateful for the reception from the audience and for the assistance of the African Student Union and CAMD. Liam Murphy and Alex Salton contributed reporting.