Singer Prudence Mabhena appointed UNICEF National Ambassador for Zimbabwe
By Tapuwa L. Mutseyekwa
HARARE, Zimbabwe, 31 October 2011 – As a child growing up in Victoria Falls, Prudence Mabhena experienced the rejection, abandonment and neglect that often characterizes the lives of children living with disabilities in Zimbabwe: She was abandoned by her parents and left in the care of her grandmother.
Today, Ms. Mabhena is the lead vocalist of Liyana, an award-winning Afro-fusion band composed of young people with disabilities. The memory of her childhood inspires her to advocate, through her music, for an immediate end to child abuse.
“Everyone listens to music,” she said. “I think messages sent out through music will be effective and can encourage immediate responses.”
In recognition of her efforts on behalf of children, Ms. Mabhena has been appointed a UNICEF National Ambassador for Zimbabwe.
Born with arthrogryposis, a congenital disorder causing muscle weakness and limited movement, Ms. Mabhena has had to use a wheelchair all her life. But she has overcome both physical challenges and social exclusion to achieve global recognition as a musician and advocate.
Her hardships and subsequent accomplishments were featured in the Academy Award-winning documentary, ‘Music by Prudence’. In the film, Ms. Mabhena uses her experiences to empower and encourage children with disabilities. And with her song, ‘Children are Special’, Ms. Mabhena communicates the pain of abandonment and the effects of social exclusion.
“This song was inspired by the way I grew up,” said Ms. Mabhena. “I was saying – not only to my parents but to all parents – that children are special, and they need to love them and take care of them. I also encourage children to always look for the best within themselves.”
Her appointment as a UNICEF National Ambassador is a celebration of both her achievements and her commitment to helping the children of Zimbabwe.
“This appointment is in recognition of Prudence’s bold endeavours to use her vocal talent to speak on behalf of millions of Zimbabwean children,” said UNICEF Representative in Zimbabwe Dr. Peter Salama.
In this role, Ms. Mabhena will continue to advocate for the protection of all children from violence, abuse and exploitation, with a special emphasis on the protection needs of children with disabilities.
“I am truly humbled by this appointment, and accept the responsibilities which follows with this recognition,” said Ms. Mabhena. “Through my association with UNICEF, I would like all Zimbabweans – and indeed the world – to understand the importance of children, particularly children living with disabilities.”