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People earn their names when they are born, but Treegirl earned hers the day she died. The children who found her hanging in a mopane tree gave her the name just before stealing her red, size 8 ½ Made-in-China shoes so they could sell them and buy bread. They felt it necessary to call her something before robbing her; their instincts said it was the least they could do. Afterward, the children ran to alert the adults, and by the time they cut the rope and let the body drop to the ground, everybody knew the girl by Treegirl. If she had been called other things before, it did not matter.

Namgcobha, the girl’s grandmother, stumbled over the –Tree part of her granddaughter’s brand new English name, but because she was determined, she rehearsed it over and over, churning it between her teeth and tongue like a sweet seed until it came out right. Tree. Girl. Treegirl. Death by a tree. Namgcobha was grateful: to the mopane on which her granddaughter had hung herself, to the new name, and to the children who had named her. It meant people would at least talk about a different cause of death. As far as Namgcobha was concerned, hanging, or anything for that matter, was better than the AIDS Disease. Now she could at least look people in the eye and accept their stunned condolences, her head, exempt from shame, held somewhat high...


olutosin's picture

More than serious

This is unbelievable, see what stigmatization does now. My heart goes out to this girl ah ah ...This world can become so strange and just imagine how our children are just ending their lives, precious lives ...these avoidable deaths....
I am so touched and moved by this story...ehn
I feel so day feeling the thick darkness around I wish I was there to counsel her before she died!
Poor girl....ignorant community.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town


Sharese's picture


This is very powerful. Thank you for the insight. Please keep posting updates and articles about your part of the world!

The stigma that surrounds HIV/AIDS is something affects almost every facet of society. Working toward a world with less discrimination and stigma is something that I fight for and many others fight for as well- AIDS does not discriminate, it can and DOES affect all of us.

Please keep posting. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

Much Peace,


Matilda Moyo's picture


I love the way you write. It leaves one thinking...

danky dade. you hold your own as well, keep writing ;)

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