Death and the management of death are inescapable subjects in much of present-day Africa. In Rwanda, people live daily with the repercussions and memory of the 1994 genocide; in the conflict-ridden Democratic Republic of the Congo debates continue on whether to repatriate the body of former President Mobutu; in the “Pack up and Go” coffin workshop in Southern Malawi, children are employed in the manufacture of collapsible coffins which can be transported on the backs of bicycles; in East, Central and Southern Africa communities mourn daily the untimely deaths of the victims of HIV/AIDS, older people complain that there will be no-one left to bury them, and children become experts at nursing their dying parents.
The history of death in Africa is a valid subject in its own right. No comprehensive examination of this subject exists. There is no doubt, however, that present circumstances, in particular the HIV/AIDS epidemic, make this project all the more important and urgent.
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