African musicians join hands to save girlchild
By - Nanjinia Wamuswa | October 27th 2012
By Nanjinia Wamuswa
African girl remains the most vulnerable in the current society, despite numerous global interventions that have been put in place to extricate them.
Discrimination against girls in Africa is deeply rooted. Nevertheless, this would not stop the infatigable individuals and organisations that want to bring hope to the poor girls.
There are many initiatives that have been started by local organisations and stakeholders. And with the concerted efforts gaining root across the continent, music has not been left behind in the fight.
African divas Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Suzanna Owiyo have partnered with Zimbabwean music king Oliver Mtukudzi to use the genre to pass messages of boon to save the African girl. The trio have just released their latest hit to campaign for the rights of girlchild.
The song Because I Am A Girl, also recorded by the three, calls on girls to stand firm in the fight for their rights. The title reminds every African of 1985 American charitable single; We are the World, written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie to raise money for famine relief to Africans. Because I Am A Girl also highlights challenges millions of teenage girls face on the continent; ranging from early marriages to gender-based violence and discrimination.
Ms Owiyo says girls experience more violence, sexual harassment and are forced into hard labour, limiting their opportunity to develop.
“The song is a wake-up call to all girls to stand up for their rights and access education, protection, respect and better livelihood,” she says. The song’s audio and video was recorded recently in South Africa, but officially unveiled two weeks ago at the launch of ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Several organisations attended the inauguration, including the Plan International, which has been in the forefront in the fight for the rights of girlchild in Africa. The organisation’s regional deputy Director Luther Bois Anukur says the song is an initiative of a worldwide campaign against abuse of rights of girlchild. He says the campaign is aimed at directly supporting four million girls across the world. This will tackle issues to do with education, skills and need to move from poverty to opportunity.
“Investing in girls and young women has beneficial effect on alleviating poverty; not only for girls, but also for their families, communities and countries,” he says.
The five-minute pop song has so far been translated to and recorded in English, Swahili, Arabic, Portuguese, Shona and French. Some countries such as Tanzania and Southern Sudan have adopted it in their local languages by local artistes.
Musicians Yvonne, Mtukudzi and Owiyo become the best artistes for such an initiative since they are seen by African girls as role models, musicians with unblemished records and many people look up to them.
“For advocacy purposes it needs clean artistes with good names. For instance Yvonne is a UN goodwill ambassador,” adds Anukur.
Owiyo says it is great honour to be part of the team with Yvonne and Mtukudzi.
“In my songs I have been in the forefront advocating issues affecting girlchild. I believe this campaign will touch many hearts out there to consider giving education for girls a priority,” she says.
Already, plans are underway to work with leading mobile network operators in Africa to distribute the song as a free downloadable ring tone, and dissemination of the song through music stores and leading TV and radio stations across the continent. They also intend to hold concerts across East, South and West Africa to popularise the song. Because I Am A Girl targets people of all age groups and status from the youth, policy makers to the elderly in rural areas.
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