A Controversial HIV/Aids programme, loveLife, began in the final few months of 1999 when South Africa’s epidemic was rampaging through the country’s young people, leaving millions dead. In 2019, after 20 years of sustained effort, the organisation is still going strong, but with some significant differences in approach. Large-scale American funding had been guaranteed for five years and was provided for ten. The famous billboards that had characterised the first decade disappeared for economic reasons for the second.
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Covid-19 amplified the seismic rumblings of South Africa’s divided society. Out of the limelight and away from corruption scandals, a vast network of civil society organisations mobilised as the pandemic approached. They harnessed the thunder, directing attention to people who are usually not seen or heard – compelling the nation to take a long, hard look at itself.