November 2, 2020


Bianca Masuku

Eh!woza ( is a collaborative public engagement (PE) programme involving biomedical researchers, a conceptual artist, anthropologists, musicians and young people living in Khayelitsha, a township in Cape Town. The programme operates at the intersection of PE, youth education, and advocacy, with the ultimate aim of decreasing stigma and encouraging positive health-seeking behaviour through different forms of engagement. In its core programme, The Eh!woza Doccies, youth in Khayelitsha are engaged in current TB biomedical research and the production of short documentaries about the social impact of TB. Within this, one group of high-school learners created a documentary in 2018 called “Moyo ‘omdaka”, directly translated meaning “dirty air”. While the title of the film can be understood to mean “dirty air” as mode and means of transmission of TB, the word ‘moya’ in isiXhosa also mean life or life force. Given the aetiology of TB and its transmission via exhaled particles from human to human, breath is inextricably linked to breathing and in some senses to life. Through uncovering issues of breath from a physical and metaphysical perspective and how this relates to an infectious disease such as TB, Eh!woza was able to quickly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, producing a series of documentaries and informational animations.

This presentation will provide a summary of Eh!woza (as well as how the organisation has responded to COVID-19) and then describe how the media produced within the programme firmly demonstrate how TB, for which breathing is essential to its transmission, is also inseparable from life and the social conditions in which it occurs and the lives and life forces which it impacts. In addition to this, it will touch on differences and similarities around people’s perspectives and thoughts of COVID-19 and how these insights could inform other community engagement efforts as well as medical control initiatives.

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Bianca Masuku

About Bianca Masuku

Bianca Masuku is a PhD candidate in Anthropology registered at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town. She obtained her undergraduate, honours and Masters in social anthropology from the University of the Witwatersrand. She is currently a Junior Research Fellow at the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) at UCT. She has assumed many roles in varied research institutes and has had research experience working with the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (WRHI) whereby she has  explored her research interests in gender and sexuality, youth and health, and reproductive politics. Her PhD research has taken her into the field of infectious diseases with a specific focus on tuberculosis. Her presentation explores the work of a youth-based TB public engagement programme in Khayelitsha and the ways in which it has explored the disease with young people in the township.