Bulelwa Nokwe, Body Maps, 2009, digital print on paper.
I just love the picture. I didn’t know when I draw myself down I can be like this. I feel very better now. Before I just saw myself as I am, not like this, like a tree. And those streaks on my body map. That was a mistake. One day Kylie pick up my picture when it was wet and roots went all over my body and I just felt happy. The person behind me, my shadow, is the person who traced me. It is Victoria.
When I was seven, my cousin beat the dog, the dog hit its body on the pot of porridge and it spilled all over my leg. That’s why I have this burn here on leg and here on my body map. They took skin from another place but as I grew it also grows.
Now you see this green mark on my arm. I was sleeping with my baby and there was no electricity and I light the candle. A piece of blanket fall over the candle and burned me here. I only had this one child. She passed away at eight months in 1986. She had a muscle disease.
When I tested HIV positive my doctor said, “Please, please you must not think about killing yourself because you can live as long as you want.” But the doctor said I’m not qualifying for the treatment yet.
I remember taking my pills for the first time. I was given a pill box that has all the morning times and evening times and days of the week on it. It is big like a lunch box. I was so excited that time I took the pills for the first time because now I qualified and I knew I would not become sicker like before.
Many people in the government say that poor people are too stupid to understand how to take the ARVs. We love these drugs. If we are out we hunt for a tap to take them. We put them in a smaller box if we know we are going out. We never forget. This is the most important thing to us. Like air.