“Values” was a word used often at a conference that looked at sexuality within the context of South African schools. In one of the more popular discussions, delegates crowded in to hear writer Credo Mutwa’s thoughts on African tradition and its place in sexuality education.

He was joined by Wilmot James of UCT’s Graduate School of Business who said that the crisis presented by HIV can be viewed as a path to the formation of values which flowed naturally out of the constitution.

Mutwa, who has experience of HIV infection in his family, called for the resurgence of African tradition to help form the values needed to combat the spread of the disease. He said that Africans had managed to fight off other diseases in the past.

“Many of us are forgetting that AIDS is not the first deadly disease to come into Africa, there was once a time when TB was as deadly as AIDS,” he said.

He had his audience dissolving in laughter as he described how some museums in South Africa have in their collections mysterious sheets of cloth the size and length of a man’s penis which were traditionally called “the trousers for riding” by Xhosa people. This he said proved that “Africans used condoms long before the white man came here.”

Mutwa said that in traditional African culture, women were highly revered as the spiritual head of the family. “There is overwhelming proof in history that women, far from being chattel and slaves, were leaders. We are a dying nation, hell bound because we have forgotten our history.”

To gales of embarrassed laughter he said that the “missionary position” where the man is on top of the woman during sex, was not in African tradition and was imposed by colonial religious belief. In African tradition women were more likely to be penetrated from behind – giving them more control and the freedom to escape.

When asked about his views on how AIDS came to Africa and could be cured, Mutwa stunned some delegates by saying that that AIDS was a man-made and race specific disease made to order by Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon and could be treated by traditional African methods that could cure viral diseases with ultra-sound.

The discussion left delegates no closer to concrete plans on how to incorporate traditional values into sexuality education, but most felt that it was important and should be included in some form.