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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Reconstructing Mchape '95: AIDS, Billy Chisupe, and the Politics of Persuasion
Author:Doran, Marissa C.M.
Periodical:Journal of Eastern African Studies
Geographic term:Malawi
About person:Billy Goodson Chisupe
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/17531050701625573
Abstract:This article re-examines the case of Billy Goodson Chisupe of Malawi, who in 1995 claimed to have discovered a cure for AIDS, and distributed the cure, at no charge, to nearly a million people. Existing interpretations of these events fail to recognize their significance; the mass movement to Chisupe reflected neither the 'inevitable' expression of a cultural pattern nor a public demand for 'moral purity', as Schoffeleers and Probst have theorized. It is argued here that the Chisupe affair can be explained not as 'mass hysteria' but as the product of rational fears (of AIDS), calculations (of the probability that someone like Chisupe might be 'real') and desires (for a chance to speak openly about inequality, politics, and the threat posed by disease). Chisupe's message - about inequality, and respect for African 'tradition' and science - is the crucial missing link in the existing portraits of the Chisupe affair, and that there are potential political and public health implications to the failure to understand the appeal of that message. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]