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While prior chapters highlight the strengths and agility of the ngoma body, chapter 6 addresses the struggles weakening bodies provoke by considering how individuals and the team manage well-being and stigma in the context of the AIDS epidemic. The national politics of the epidemic during the mid-1990s through the early millennium, and the local history of access to health care, provide a context within which ngoma’s competitive camaraderie and danced poetics offer forms of expression that are palpable but inexplicit. Analyzing moments of breakdown and recovery in performance, and of courageous artistry, the chapter argues that the silence of a military brotherhood can hold a positive valence.

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