Red Sox owner John Henry is proving to be eloquent in bursts of a few words in describing his experiences as he confronts the AIDS crisis in southern Africa.
Henry is spending his honeymoon far from Fenway, and for the most part far from the glorious beaches and mountains of South Africa. Based on his frequent Tweets on Twitter, Henry is plunging into some of the poignant symbols of the country's apartheid past and its present struggle with millions of cases of HIV and AIDS.
From Robben Island off Cape Town, where President Nelson Mandela spent most of his years in jail until he was released in 1990, Henry tweeted: "Spent the afternoon at Nelson Mandela's cell block with one of his fellow prisoners. Incredible stories of courage and unfathomable honor." And he added later: "27 years in a tiny cell for African freedom. Robben Island...penguins cavorting this afternoon where great men labored in a lime quarry."
Henry reported that he and his new wife, Linda Pizzuti, visited in Cape Town with retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, and the couple also made a stop at the storied Rustenberg vineyard estate in nearby Stellenbosch.
|Left to right, John Henry and his wife, Linda Pizzuti, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mass. General Hospital researcher Dr. Bruce Walker, and South African wine importer Andre Shearer (courtesy Cape Classics)|
Andre Shearer, chief executive of the Cape Classics wine importing firm, is also traveling with the group and posted this picture of the group's meeting with Tutu on his own Twitter page.
After a meal with former President FW De Klerk to discuss the AIDS epidemic, Henry and Pizzuti traveled across the country to the east, to Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal Province, the epicenter of the country's AIDS crisis. They were also traveling with Massachusetts General Hospital AIDS researcher Dr. Bruce Walker, who recently received a $100 million gift from Cambridge entrepreneur Phillip Terrence Ragon to set up an institute to develop an AIDS vaccine. I wrote about Walker's work in southern Africa in March, and about further work on the deadly links between AIDS and tuberculosis.
Henry tweeted earlier today: "Ground Zero. 200 babies are born with HIV infection each day in South Africa. 1000 per year in US. Doctors here are currently on strike."
Henry added more stark observations in subsequent tweets: "In a women's TB ward where 30% of patients die each day. Edendale Hospital."
"So what's causing the deaths here among those dying of aids? 48% due to TB. Prevention is not strong enough. The govt must get involved."
And he added: "70% of hospital admissions in this area are due to AIDS. Youngsters used to wheel in grandparents. Now grandparents wheel in youngsters."
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
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