UNICEF Ambassadors speak out for children in Mozambique
MAPUTO, Mozambique, 22 July 2013 - Oliver Mtukudzi is a household name in much of southern Africa, and his visit to neighbouring Mozambique in June was an eagerly anticipated event. In Maputo, fans stopped the Zimbabwean star on the street to shake hands and take photos with him.
The singer was in town to support national celebrations around the Quinzena da Criança, (‘Children’s Fortnight’), bookended by International Children’s Day on 1 June and the Day of the African Child on 16 June.
A special show on national television was aired to mark the celebrations, featuring Mr. Mtukudzi and local artists such as UNICEF Mozambique Ambassador Stewart Sukuma, United Nations Millennium Development Goals Envoy for Africa Mingas, and UNICEF supporter Valdemiro José. During the two-hour programme, the artists spoke out about child marriage, disability and HIV/AIDS.
“Working for children has always been close to my heart,” said Mr. Mtukudzi, who has long been a strong voice on issues in the region, especially HIV/AIDS.
Talk from your heart
No visit by a UNICEF Ambassador would be complete without interaction with children, which Mr. Mtukudzi made sure he had at UNICEF-supported child-to-child radio programs in Maputo and Namaacha, about 70 km from the capital. There, young radio producers and presenters had the opportunity to interview the Zimbabwean star.
“As broadcasters, when talking about women’s and children’s rights, you should talk from your heart,” Mr. Mtukudzi said on the subject of preventing violence. “If you speak lightly about these issues, you don’t do justice to the child. It’s all about understanding the purpose of your microphone, and putting it to good use.”
The artist’s wise words clearly made an impression. In response, radio presenter Maique Manhique said, “We promise to take this advice, and to use our hearts to fight this great evil.”
A closer look
It was Mtukudzi’s turn to be impressed during a visit to the district hospital in Namaacha. A mobile diagnostic machine used at the hospital enables rapid HIV testing even in remote settings, giving results in less than 20 minutes, which the singer called “amazing”. He was also introduced to a police support centre for women and children who are victims of abuse – a sobering experience in a country where gender-based violence is a pervasive problem.
The visit to Mozambique ended on an optimistic note, however, with Mr. Mtukudzi and Mr. Sukuma spending a day in the recording studio, working on a new song together. The track will be featured on the Facts for Life album, which UNICEF Mozambique will launch later in the year, featuring top national artists and children’s advocates.
For several years, UNICEF Mozambique has collaborated with influential artists and celebrities to advocate and raise awareness around child rights in the country. Mr. Mtukudzi’s visit and engagement with UNICEF Mozambique was a golden opportunity to strengthen artists’ voices on a local and regional level.
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