Sunday, 14 August 2016

International AIDS Conference 2016: Monday 18th July. Nelson Mandela Day.

Day 1. Up at 6.45am feeling well rested. It is nice and sunny, considerably warmer weather than the weekend. I think I can safely say now that I am not jetlagged. How does this happen when a few hours on a plane to the US has me not knowing what day it is? It is good to know I can fly to SA without this problem. I have a shower and wash my hair whilst Rolande borrows my Mac as she has yet to successfully connect to the internet and needs to read her email. Miraculously, I never has such problems for a change.Once again I check my days programme but because of the pre-conference, this morning is rather quiet. I am looking forward to this evenings plenary event dedicated to Nelson Mandela. We have breakfast abit later at 9am after which I catch up with things online myself. Still a sunny day we decide to explore abit of Durban and leave after 11am. We walk.

Once we leave the local area and walk into the town centre, taxi drivers keep approaching us. Rolande tells me it is unusual for white people to be on foot. It is busy and we see lots of shops with open fronts and a market. I was surprised to see a big Woolworths store. This isn't the scenic area near the ocean. I end up sweating and we decide to get a taxi to the ICC which is just over 2 miles away. These taxis are people carriers and it costs R5 each which is just 25p.
Once there we got to the Global Village and sit down in the eating area. Rolande has a beer and I have a hot water.
We go to the Global Village session room 1 for 3.30pm for our first conference session. This is meeting the NGO delegation for the UNAIDS Programme. 5 members in total. We sit at the front. They are all nice people but alas our host speaks too fast and too quietly and we and most other delegates can't understand him which is a shame.

They tell us that UNAIDS is about global policy setting on HIV, it is not a funding body. Each of the NGO reps are HIV+. They tell us about a report on sexual reproduction rights which is on the UNAIDS website.
Back at the Global Village its time to sample the local cuisine. We take our time and Rolande ends up eating a chicken pitta wrap for lunch but since I arrived in Durban I have been curious about this:

 I have seen these stalls all over our venue and in Durban and think I have figured out what they're serving after being confident it isn't rabbit lol. I see people walking away from these places with plates of rice, chicken/beef and veg. It looks nice.
As I like to try new things especially food of other lands I ask for a chicken bunny chow. The girl laughs at me and gives it to me. It was wasn't what I expected but I have to take it now anyway. It is half a loaf of bread with chicken curry on top. Very strange lol and too much bread for me so I leave most of that whilst eating the curry. R70 (£3.50) for this. At least my curiosity is satisfied and I know for sure what a bunny chow is. Washed down with a can of grape Fanta.

I get over this by taking a selfie in my red ribbon t-shirt.

Our next event is at 5.50pm in the Global Village film screening room. I have looked forward to this and we sat at the front. We watch a 40 minute film called AIDS: NGO's from all over the world. I enjoy it even more so than the previous event which was about the same thing really. This film is now on Vimeo.
Rumour has it that Prince Harry is appearing at this conference. That would really be something but I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere official and not in the programme.  Anyway we head to the ICC for the plenary event of the day, to session room 1 which the size of a stadium. We can't get any closer than half way along. Although billed as starting at 7.30pm it starts late at 7.50pm. Mandela's grandson is up first followed by Charlize Theron who gives a heartfelt and empassioned speech about how HIV doesn't discriminate.She was awesome and the audience and south africans clearly love her. She was cheered after every sentence and got a standing ovation. Quite a few technical faults but nobody cared about this.

South Africans don't need much of a reason to get up and dance and this is what the do near the beginning of this even which seemed at the mercy of technology.

Desmond Tutu was meant to be here but he made a video speech instead which was shown.
There were 3 performers intermingled among the speeches and other speakers included Prof. Chris Beyrer from John Hopkins University, Michel Sidibe from UNAIDS Switzerland and C.Rupert a south africam filmmaker. Our volunteer friend Katie left at 8.50pm but not before giving us each a yellow bracelet, bless her. This even is running so late and powerful and fun as it is we leave at 9.25pm. Back in our room we have a hot drink, water for me and find the AIDS Conference on tv which is showing the Mandela event. Thats lucky, we watch it until it finishes at 11pm. Another day done.And what a day, a great start!

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