UNICEF appoints Zimbabwean musician Oliver Mtukudzi as Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Eastern and Southern Africa
HARARE/NAIROBI, 22 June 2011 – Oliver Mtukudzi, renowned Zimbabwean musician and child rights advocate, has been appointed as UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Eastern and Southern Africa. In his new role, Mtukudzi, affectionately known as “Tuku”, will work closely with UNICEF towards young people's development and HIV prevention in the region. Mtukudzi is joining another music legend, Yvonne Chaka Chaka of South Africa, who is supporting UNICEF mainly in its efforts to combat Malaria.
“You have demonstrated a genuine commitment to communicating strong and clear messages about the importance of child and young people’s rights, including their right to live free from HIV and AIDS,” UNICEF Regional Director Elhadj As Sy wrote in his appointment letter. “Our Regional Goodwill Ambassadors are chosen not only because of their name recognition, but more particularly because of the respect with which they are held and their appeal as genuine humanitarians.”
Through his powerful lyrics, Mtukudzi has spoken out against stigma, discrimination and abuse of children. His music has gone beyond the Zimbabwean borders and inspired leaders from government and civil society, as well as parents to take more positive steps in promoting children’s rights. With this appointment, he becomes the first Zimbabwean personality among other prominent celebrities, who through their artistic gifts, work with UNICEF in advocating for children’s rights.
“Through his 40-year music career, ‘Tuku’ has championed the plight of the African child,” said UNICEF Representative Peter Salama. “His songs such as ‘Todii’, and ‘Street Kids’, not only question society’s response to HIV and AIDS and to children living on the streets, but have motivated great progress around these issues.”
UNICEF has a long history of enlisting the help of celebrities to advocate for the rights of the most vulnerable children. Danny Kaye pioneered the role of Ambassador-at-Large in 1954; it was then taken on by Audrey Hepburn and others, building up into the current distinguished roster of international, regional and national Goodwill Ambassadors. “I am humbled by this recognition of my efforts,” said Mtukudzi. “My role as a musician is to raise awareness and motivate wider responses to the social and economic problems that continue to deprive children of a good development. I am glad I can play my part in speaking on HIV prevention, against abuse, molestation, stigma, and to make our continent a better place for our children.”
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