Sunday’s episode was my favorite yet. And if you haven’t seen it yet, let me warn you: watch with a box of tissues close by.
In this episode we are treated to a guest appearance by the incredible CCH Pounder. She plays a grieving mother from the US who, though she officially loses her son, ends up gaining more than she ever could imagine. The interaction between her character and the Botswanans reveals what we Americans do “best” when traveling the world: being American. She is (at first) dressed inappropriately, naive about hospitality despite poverty, awkward in acknowledging her connection to the Africans, and—most relevant to my previous discussion—hell-bent on vengeance. But through exploring her son’s “African heart” she discovers African hearts of her own.
The other huge payoff with this episode is the further development of the relationship between Precious and Grace. Again, I try to write these without giving away too much of the plot so I will not say too much here. Suffice it to say that another sisterhood is here forged. And that Anika Noni Rose has got to be one of the most undervalued actors in the business. In this post from That Black Girl Site Corynne says:
Rose, however, layers in much more complex attributes giving her vulnerability, a big heart, and a strong head for business. In most of the episodes that have aired thus far, Rose is the source of comic relief. She doesn’t need to say it word it is imbued in the way she moves as well as when stares thoughtfully and blinks her eyes. But Rose gave us even more this week when she also showed that she can turn in both a comedic and a heartbreaking performance in the same show. Her confession to Precious Ramotswe had me (and I suspect a bunch of you) in tears.
Hopefully this episode will quiet somewhat the concerns of some observers who wanted from this series more of a focus on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the continent. This issue is dealt with here in a manner that is serious without being heavy-handed. Over in “real life,” Botswana’s response to the AIDS crisis is seen as one of the more successful models on the continent:
Botswana’s national treatment programme is now seen as a successful model for other African countries to follow. Though progress was initially slower than expected, the programme made rapid progress in 2004 and 2005, and patient responses have been comparable to those seen in Europe and the USA.
MASA [the national antiretroviral therapy program; the Setswana world for "dawn"] has demonstrated that antiretroviral treatment can be provided on a national scale through the public health system of a sub-Saharan African country – not just through localised projects run by foreign aid workers or researchers. In Botswana’s case, almost all of the actual cost of treatment has been paid by the Government, while other partners have given support by providing laboratory equipment, staff training or patient monitoring services.
…But the struggle to provide universal treatment in Botswana is far from over. All of those already enrolled must continue to receive drugs and monitoring services for the rest of their lives, and people who develop resistance to their current medications must have access to alternatives, which can be more expensive and complex than first-line therapy.
It is much easier to provide treatment in towns than in rural areas, and MASA will need to be further decentralised to ensure that all areas are covered. The shortage of skilled staff will continue to be a great challenge to MASA, and the programme will continue to be very expensive. The need for help from the rest of the world is as urgent as ever.
…Botswana’s long-term vision is to have no new HIV infections by 2016, when the nation will celebrate 50 years of independence. (Emphasis added; Source)
***Read my previous posts about The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency here***