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Also look for Three Swahili Women: Life Histories from Mombasa; Kenya by Sarah Mirza and Margaret Strobel.Together with malaria, AIDS is now the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa, and East Africa is no exception.Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni is often cited for his outspokenness and leadership in combating the scourge, and thanks to vigorous public awareness campaigns and other government efforts Uganda's AIDS rates have dropped over the past decade.Yet, at the grass-roots level in many areas of the region, the stigma remains.At the other end of the spectrum are the small cadres of wealthy in Nairobi and other capital cities who drive fancy 4WDs, live in Western-style houses in posh residential areas and send their children to university in London or elsewhere.
With the exception of Tanzania, where local chieftaincies were abolished following independence, tribal identity and tribal structures are generally strong - sometimes with disastrous consequences, as seen in the Rwandan genocide.Yet among the very real risks of the procedure are infection, shock and haemorrhage, as well as lifelong complications and pain with menstruation, urination, intercourse and childbirth.For women who have had infibulation - in which all or part of the external genitalia are removed, and the vaginal opening then narrowed and stitched together -unassisted childbirth is impossible, and many women and children die as a consequence.Otherwise, clashes between traditional and modern lifestyles are generally fairly low profile, with outside indications often limited to nothing more than the occasional disparaging remark about the neighbours.
The spectre of AIDS looms on the horizon throughout East Africa (see p33).
On the one hand, inflation is at low to moderate levels, economies are growing and tourism - despite several hard blows in recent years - is a major and increasingly important money earner.