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Say No: HIV/AIDS Film Competition Winner

Say No To Sexual Violence: HIV/Aids Film Competition Winner Zuko Sikhafungana

Centre for Humanities Research Honours fellow Zuko Sikhafungana walked away with first place (and a R10 000 bursary, and another R3 000 in cash) in the UWC HIV & AIDS Unit’s film competition for his short - but powerful - film “SAY NO TO SEXUAL VIOLENCE”.

“My mother and every woman in my community, both young and old, inspired me,” the young filmmaker says. “There is no appreciation for women in our society; there are rape cases every day, and women are brutally murdered. I aim to raise awareness and speak out for those who are silent.”

The unit tries to come up with model integrated responses to the HIV/AIDS pandemic which consists of teaching, research, care and support, community outreach, advocacy, prevention and management. A part of their peer education programme, the unit invited filmmakers to submit short pieces under the theme of ‘Sexual Violence’.

Zuko’s film, “SAY NO TO SEXUAL VIOLENCE”, is a short piece which keeps the viewer on the edge of his/her seat, showing viewers how sexual violence can occur, and how damaging it can be - and how, in most cases, the perpetrator is known to the victim of the violent act.

“With this film I tried exploring how a young woman is affected by the act of sexual violence from a young age till her early twenties, still battling her dark past,” he explains.

The film’s introduction features a poem (written by Inathi Matini, the young lady who plays the older character of the victim) describing to the viewer the victim’s experience with sexual violence:

  • The scars you left are renewed
  • Every night in my sleep
  • The hatred
  • The thirst
  • The look in your eyes
  • Still haunts me the most
  • And at the sound of your voice
  • I died
  • A funeral that only I can experience
  • A funeral with no ending
  • Dead alive looking like bodies
  • And for a second
  • I am afraid
  • You buried me alive

“The main message in the film is this,” says Zuka: “It’s OK to talk about sexual abuse experiences. Children should know this from an early age. If they don’t talk, this dark cloud follows them for the rest of their lives, negatively affecting their interactions with other individuals, especially in their intimate relationships.”

Storytelling With a Real Message

Sikhafungana says winning the competition made him feel proud, affirming his abilities as an artist with an important message: “Making films is one of the things I always wanted to do.”

The competition allowed him to stop thinking about his lack of resources and start concentrating on telling a story:  “During the process there were always inner voices telling me that I can do it with only a simple camera, editing software, and people. So I began working with what I have.”

Sikhafungana’s future plans include continuing his studies while creating - and learning about - films at the same time, honing his storytelling skills.

The HIV/AIDS Programme is involved in a range of different activities which include capacity building and information workshops for staff and students. The unit works as a resource centre, offering the free distribution of condoms, and the provision of free voluntary counselling and testing services.