It was a sad day, wasn’t it? For the staunch followers and supporters of my favourite Kenyan comedian Eric Omondi, when rumours leaked out that he was HIV+. The drama that followed after the rumours, like the withdrawal of some endorsements that he was expecting, is what amazed me completely on the state of matters of human rights ignorance among the endorsers and we as artists and entertainers in general. Although it was later realized as just another prank to sabotage the comedian’s efforts , just like the crocodile’s pose with its mouth wide open attracting flies into it, that was an open act of discrimination on the part of HIV/AIDS victims.

In this age and time we must be able to openly reject any myths and misconceptions and fight unnecessary HIV/AIDS related discrimination and stigma.  The people in positions of authority have to accept the reality of HIV in our communities, and recognize the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS is another killer disease which requires management and daily medication just like cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease, diabetes, tuberculosis, asthma, ulcers etc.  The difference with HIV is that it impacts greatly on the individual’s social identity and sometimes integrity. According to UNAIDS’ HIV/AIDS HUMAN RIGHTS YOUNG PEOPLE IN ACTION  TRAINING KIT – “Lack of recognition of human rights not only causes unnecessary personal suffering and loss of dignity for people living with HIV or AIDS but it also contributes directly to the spread of the epidemic since it hinders the  response. For  example,  when  human  rights  are  not  respected,  people  are  less  likely  to  seek counselling, testing, treatment and support because it means facing discrimination, lack of confidentiality or other negative consequences”.


If I try to picture the whole scene at the time, it must have been a very trying moment for the comedian both psychologically and socially. The business entity went ahead to give him an economical blow at that same trying moment and if the guy was really infected then he would be seeing his whole world fall down and all his dreams and ambitions thrown to the sharks with betrayal from those that he trusted all along!

If he was the breadwinner in the family both extended and nuclear, then the betrayal would affect so many people close to him as well as the people working in the same industry who victims of HIV/AIDS. His right of employment had just been abused and he was discriminated against because of his perceived HIV status. Link and Phelans theory of stigma states that “ stigma is the convergence of labelling, stereotyping, separation, and discrimination by a stigmatizer with access to social, political, and/or economic power”.

In the case of Eric Omondi’s prank the endorsers should have known better with facts all over regarding care and support as well as nutrition and medication for those infected with the virus. They should have gone ahead and endorsed him while at the same time giving him psycho-social support and care to set a positive example to society and world in general but they did the exact opposite and set a negative precedent on perception in the media and entertainment industry for the millions of “victims” of the disease.  Now an artist whose privacy has been violated and is perceived to be a carrier of the virus will find it very hard tosurvive in such murky waters of indecision and practical support for victims of HIV.

When a person is already laden with the mental trauma associated with the disease then you go ahead and give him a cold shoulder and turn him/her away you appear very hypocritical to everyone. Let me tell you this for sure. If you are not infected you are affected through someone close to you like a relative or friend so we are all involved in this. I challenge the endorsers to change their thinking so that everyone in the entertainment industry may show solidarity to fellow countrymen entertainers who are just victims of the disease and not criminals.

About Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez

Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez is an International Award Winner, Published Author & Poet, Broadcast Journalist, MC and Youth Empowerment Consultant . He is also The CEO of AFRICA4U and The Founder of Africans in The Diaspora People also see him as a Cultural and Social entrepreneur, which means he is skilled in working with many different communities, bringing people together in successful focused events. Tony has organised many cultural events …involving both BME and mainstream communities. He is skilled in hosting events that reinforce community cohesion and bringing different kinds of people together. He has organised events in The UK, The U.S.A, Holland, Germany, Romania, Malta and Nigeria and has visited over 22 European Countries. Tony has also organised The Black History Month Celebrations at The UK House of Parliament for over five years in a row He continues to promote the true life and success stories of Africans in Europe and Africans around the world and has organised several small scale literary and awards initiatives aimed at empowering young people. He has also spent time as an International broadcaster and was The Producer and Presenter for AFRICA4U International Radio Talk Show at Reading4u Radio Station for nearly three years. Tony has interviewed high profile Members of Parliament, Distinguished celebrities and some of Africas best musicians including Ivonne Chaka Chaka and Kanda Bongoman. He has also been a guest on BBC Radio on numerous occasions to discuss the community cohesion events he organises at UK House of Parliament and also to recite some of his published work in memory of Nelson Mandela, 50 Years Anniversary of The race relations act and major community issues. Tony has also a Guest on popular Radio stations in Nigeria and The States In the last few years he has been very passionate about Youth empowerment, community cohesion and cultural intelligence. Tony was born in South London and has lived in several parts of England and Nigeria . He started writing at the tender age of nine, a habit he expressed with creative enthusiasm. Tony writes Poetry, short stories and proverbs on personal development. He is currently working on his 4th book which will also be his first novel. He is also into Public Speaking at Special events and Social functions and is a Mentor for young people in the UK Community. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at The University of Lagos, Nigeria in English and World Literature. He later went on to attain a teaching qualification at The Frances King International Training Institute, South Kensington London, it was here he studied Teaching English as a Foreign Language. He also studied Web Design at The City University in London. He published his first book in June 1999 called “The Beauty in the Dark” (A Collection of Poetry which received critical acclamation in many circles around the world). .Tony’s aim in life is to inspire the young generation and to encourage the youth to make the very best of their dreams and aspirations,. He published a 2nd book in June 2009 called ” The Sound of Running Water” – A Family gift book of proverbs and quotations on Personal Development and Positive Thinking . In December 2009, he published his 3rd book called “One Moment of Peace”.- A collection of Poetry inspired by personal experiences and spiritual growth. Besides the fact that the Artist has won International online awards, he is mostly inspired by Life experience, love, music and cultural awareness. He was Resident Poet at the 5th London Poetry Festival in 2009 and has been a guest on BBC Radio on very many occassions including The famous Anne Diamond Show. He has also been a guest on a few SKY TV stations and several International Radio Stations around The World
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