Annie Lennox has been an icon since shooting to fame with the Eurythmics two decades ago. The “Greatest White Soul Singer Alive” won a 2004 Academy Award for best original song. But these days, Lennox’s heart belongs less to Billboard charts than to dying children. She campaigns on behalf of African children infected with AIDS. She talked exclusively to Metro.
After more than two decades of awareness campaigns, why are so many African
children dying of AIDS?
If you have money, then you can always get access to medical care and treatment. But if you are poor it’s a very different story, especially as health care in most African countries is completely inefficient and understaffed.
Whose fault is it?
Very often chronic poverty has been caused by the fact that in the 20th and 21st centuries, leaders, governments and economic systems have not served the people well.
What’s your reaction when South African politicians suggest AIDS can be cured with traditional medicines?
During Tabo Mbeki’s rule as president of South Africa, his health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, said AIDS could be treated with vitamins, garlic, lemon juice, beetroot and olive oil. It’s shocking to think that a person in such an important position could take a stand like this. Many African people often mistrust Western medicine, or it’s not affordable to them, so they go to traditional healers.
How did AIDS among children become your biggest passion?
I performed for the launch of Nelson Mandela’s HIV/AIDS campaign in 2003. Mandela described the HIV/AIDS pandemic as a “genocide” that was wiping out millions of lives, including women and children. That was when I sat up and paid attention.
What do you bring to the fight against AIDS?
One of my strengths is that I am my own campaign. Apart from raising money, I have an international platform, and can continuously keep raising awareness.