KHOPOTSO: On a week-day afternoon after work I sat down with three men from three different generations. We spoke about sex and sexual practices, the impact of social ills such as poverty and the consequences of HIV and AIDS.

UPSOUND: I’€™m Ernest Mbhekeni Buthelezi. I was born in Alexandra, Johannesburg.   I’€™m 42 years old.

I’€™m Siza. I was born in Pimville, Soweto. I’€™m 26 years old.

I’€™m Sibusiso from Pimville. I’€™m 18 years old.

KHOPOTSO: At 18, Sibusiso is the youngest in the group. He is sexually active. He admits that influences around him make it difficult for him and other young people to abstain from sex.

SIBUSISO: This is just all peer pressure, you know. You saw uThabo, uyenzeni? (What has he done?) You know, it’€™s like that. I always want to do it. Growing up is like, you have to experiment. It’€™s all about experimentation and moderation. You learn from your mistakes. I know there are some mistakes you can’€™t fix. But it’€™s like that. He’€™s done it. I also want to do it.

KHOPOTSO: Sibusiso, in the event that you have an opportunity to have sex, but you do not have a condom, what do you do in that kind of situation?

SIBUSISO: That’€™s pretty obvious. For me, I wouldn’€™t just go ahead and have sex ‘€˜cos now I’€™ve got the knowledge’€¦ If I don’€™t have a condom with me, I’€™d rather get a bj (blow job) from a chick, you know’€¦ I’€™d rather get that instead of just going skin to skin.

ERNEST BUTHELEZI: The young man you’€™ve just interviewed, he said he’€™s 18. He may have his peer group, a lady of 16 or something, providing for the lady’€¦ But if she doesn’€™t see this gentleman in two weeks and she’€™s hungry, she’€™ll jump into bed with me at 42, understand? From there she’€™ll jump back to a 26 year old. That’€™s because she’€™s not knowledgeable about what she’€™s doing. All that needs to be addressed is the importance of educating our nation about’€¦ the difficulties that we are experiencing about AIDS and we just have to come out with it and show youngsters the importance of protection’€¦It goes both ways.

KHOPOTSO: Siza is the 26 year old in the group of three. He and his girlfriend have just become first-time parents. To him, the teaching of abstinence from sex makes no sense.

SIZA: You see, when you’€™re very young, when they tell you: ‘€œDon’€™t go into that house, those people are very bad’€. You’€™d want to know how bad they are. Then, you’€™d go into that house. (It’€™s) the same with abstinence. Should you have been told the truth, maybe you might decide to abstain’€¦ But you don’€™t just tell me to abstain with no reason. No, I’€™ll never abstain.

KHOPOTSO: For those who can’€™t abstain, but are mindful of the dangers of unprotected sex, masturbation could be a solution. I put that as a question to 18 year old Sibusiso.

SIBUSISO: (laughs) I don’€™t know, eh. That’€™s some other issue’€¦ Maturbation? Nobody wants to do that now since youngsters now are more engaged to sex, having sex’€¦ I won’€™t get any satisfaction from that. Maturbating? Come.

KHOPOTSO: And this is the start of a debate between Sibusiso and Siza.

SIZA: No, in actual sense you would’€¦ Ja, you’€™d get the same satisfaction. Now that you said ukuthi (that) when they give you a bj you feel satisfied, it means ukuthi (that) na nge (even with) masturbation you can be satisfied.    

SIBUSISO: Okay, for my side, neh. I won’€™t get satisfaction out of wanking’€¦ You gave me an example, getting a bj. It’€™s somebody giving you that. You’€™re not giving yourself a bj. That’€™s the whole satisfaction. You’€™re getting it from somebody.

SIZA: It’€™s not everyone who wants to give you a bj. It’€™s not every woman who (he laughs) will go down on you’€¦ up until wena (you) go down on her, then she’€™ll give you ten bjs, you understand?

SIBUSISO: But now it’€™s more about the power you’€™ve got as a man, you know. That’€™s where it counts, you know. You just put your strategies together’€¦ Promise her you’€™ll take her to the moon, you know.              

SIZA: You don’€™t have to promise anything. You can just go to places where they sell sex. And you tell them exactly what you want. Then you pay for exactly what you want. But you see, in terms of reality, reality doesn’€™t offer blow jobs.

KHOPOTSO: Ernest, the oldest in the group is the voice of reason.

ERNEST BUTHELEZI: If we can address the issue of poverty in this country we are half-way there to our solution’€¦ These young me just identified a point of saying if you promise her the moon, or you go to Hillbrow to buy a person. Why is she there? She is there to sell sex for money to address her poverty. If our government can address our basic problem’€¦ And the second point, I still need to emphasise this, (is) to be educated in this. And I need this subject to be introduced at our primary schools because our nation is going to grow not knowing about this disease. I’€™ve got a daughter. She’€™s turning seven in February’€¦ She talks about AIDS. I talk to her about AIDS and the danger of AIDS’€¦   It is difficult at the moment talking to her. But I try gradually’€¦ taking into consideration her age.

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