Our confrere Ludwig Peschen offers us his very special tribute to Bernard Joinet, whom he knew very well for having worked with him and lived with him for the last few years.
Our dear Bernard Joinet has left, what a right and just man! A man of truth. His encouraging presence has always been good for me.
I would like to tell you a story about the first few hours of his “Flotilla of Hope”. In 1995, we met for the first time in Dakar, Senegal, for ICASA, the International and Scientific Conference on AIDS in Africa. At that time, there was still discussion about the value of condoms for AIDS prevention in Africa. Possible and reasonable, yes or no????
Bernard had a very nuanced point of view, of course: condoms can be important to reduce the incidence of AIDS, but they are not the only way to stop the epidemic!
A conference was then held in a mega room in the centre of Dakar, packed to capacity. The promoters and sellers of condoms hoped to make a great publicity, and of course trade in the future, if a Catholic priest, in the Roma collar, adopted their position. Bernard Joinet takes the floor on the podium, and he begins by explaining research done in Rwanda, in prostitutes’ circles. According to this research, it was found that 80% of prostitutes’ clients were under the influence of alcohol at the time of their visit, to get into the atmosphere. So Joinet addresses the audience and asks in a provocative way, aloud:
« Have you ever seen an alcoholic man who knew how to put a condom in the right place at the right time…? »
The condom sellers left the room, their tails between their legs (sic), and the room screamed with laughter…
Dear Bernard, thank you very much for your courage, your humour and your spirit of truth,
Ludwig Peschen, M.Afr.