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South Africa

Hip-hop star Zola named UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador at African Development Forum

© UNICEF Ethiopia/2006
At the African Development Forum in Addis Ababa (left to right): UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia Björn Ljungqvist, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah, hip-hop star Zola and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo just after Zola was named a regional Goodwill Ambassador.

By Sarah Crowe

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, 17 November 2006 – Hip-hop star Zola – who has made his name as a rapper and actor from Soweto, South Africa – was named as a regional Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF today. His appointment was announced at the African Development Forum in Addis Ababa.

The announcement was met by cheers from African youth delegates, and Zola, 29, was embraced by established Goodwill Ambassador and musician Angélique Kidjo, who hails from Benin.

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah lauded the new ambassador’s appointment.

“Zola is a young leader who is giving all his creative talents to advocate for transformation in society – to draw the public’s attention to the terrible impact of HIV/AIDS, female genital mutilation and poverty of young people on this continent,” she said. “His efforts continue to inspire many people, especially the youth. His personal story in overcoming poverty in Soweto to become one of Africa’s budding young superstars gives hope to millions of youth in Africa who are in a similar situation.”

Energy and dynamism

“This is like a calling – you can’t refer to this as a job,” said Zola. “UNICEF’s work in Africa has really influenced me, and other ambassadors like Angélique Kidjo just make me want to do more. I grew up in the ghetto. I understand what it’s like to struggle. Now, as long as I live, I am going to have to fight social injustice wherever it is being done and make a noise for kids.”

© UNICEF Ethiopia/2006
Newly appointed regional UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Zola of South Africa greets young Ethiopian children affected by HIV/AIDS.

Born Bongi Dhlamini in a tough part of the sprawling Zola Township, from which he took his name, Zola speaks with passion grown from his own roots. He may not yet be a household name outside of his native South Africa, but with his energy and dynamism he soon will be heard making a ‘noise’ around the world about issues that matter to Africa’s children.

And Zola is a natural with children. Visiting a UNICEF-supported project in Addis Ababa, he was hugged and kissed by Ethiopian toddlers who had lost their parents to HIV/AIDS.

Towards an AIDS-free generation

That kind of generosity of the African spirit inspired Zola to become a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. “I’ve gone to such poor countries where you expect people to be miserable, but you find people smiling and they offer you their last piece of bread,” he said.

With the scourge of HIV hitting the countries of eastern and southern Africa especially hard, Zola will devote his substantial energy to the UNITE FOR CHILDREN  UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign – working toward the goal of an AIDS-free generation in Africa.

He joins a list of notables from the world stage who have been chosen as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors not only because they’ve made their names in sports, music or the performing arts, but also largely for the respect they command as genuine humanitarians.




17 November 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Sarah Crowe reports on how rap star and regional Goodwill Ambassador Zola is making a difference in Africa.
 VIDEO  high | low

17 November 2006:
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo sings a tribute to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
 VIDEO  high | low

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from The Newsmarket


17 November 2006:
UNICEF Radio correspondent Blue Chevigny reports on African hip-hop star Zola’s priorities as a newly appointed regional Goodwill Ambassador.
AUDIO listen

Related links

African Development Forum

17 November 2006
Hip-hop star Zola named Goodwill Ambassador at Forum [with video and audio]

16 November 2006
Youth leaders speak out [with video]

14 November 2006
Forum set to focus on key role of young people

AIDS campaign

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