n Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies - Aids in Africa : how did it ever happen? Frank Ham : book review

Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-9507



The author (writing under a pseudonym) introduces himself as 'an Englishman in Holland'. He was born in England but has lived in Holland for most of his life. He is a gay man who first tested HIV+ in 1984, but survived for 18 years before having to go on anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment. After school he joined the White Fathers in order to become a missionary priest, but because of his homosexuality he discontinued his training. He involved himself in a letter-writing campaign in order to 'wake Europe to the enormity of the catastrophe unfolding half a day's journey to the south' (p. 8). One of his letters was to the Catholic magazine The Tablet, taking the bishops to task for their stance against the use of condoms. A Catholic seminarian from Malawi responded to this letter, which gave rise to an invitation for Ham to visit Malawi. He visited Malawi seven times and his experience there, especially his interaction with ordinary Malawians and health care workers (both Malawian and European) motivated the writing of this book.

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