The Herald (Harare)

13 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Tackling Stigma Through Music

A music producer has taken a giant leap in his efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination on people living with HIV and Aids. Webster Mapanda, of Log-a-rhythm, has been in the music industry since

2004. Mapanda's message this time around is zero tolerance to stigma.

"Zero-stigma" is on CD and involves different artistes.

The artistes have their own flair in the eight different songs carrying the same message on anti-stigma.

Mapanda said while there has been behaviour change and the prevalence rate has gone down to 14,2 percent from a high of 26 percent a decade ago, stigma has remained a burning issue which need tackling even from a musician's point of view.

Mapanda's CD will be distributed for free as he wishes to take the message to as many people as possible.

"I hope to work with all centres involved with HIV and Aids so that distribution will be easy.

"Producing an anti-stigma message is one thing and having it accessible is the most important aspect in my fight against stigma," said Mapanda.

"This noble initiative involves upcoming musicians as they are the ones who need exposure and marketing," said Mapanda.

"The Zero Stigma project addresses that element very well and has eight upcoming artistes -- all talking the same message," he added.

"One artiste addresses the issue that children are not to blame at all, some of them were just unfortunate to be born like that and did not play any part in them being born HIV positive.

"So to me discrimination of children is unacceptable and one artiste has made this message loud and clear," Mapanda said.

"Another artiste talks directly to the infected, giving hope that positive living is the way to go. The song brings out optimism and acceptance as the bridges to positive living," he said.

"I have another singer in prayer mode, asking God's power and might to intercede as man alone will not conquer. He knows and points out that prayer is complimentary to medication," Mapanda said.

"One singer puts himself in the shoes of the infected person. He therefore asks how one would feel were they to be treated with discrimination and stigma. He implores people to have humane hearts and feelings for each other," added the youthful Mapanda.

In future, funds permitting, he intends to take the message into film and drama. In this project he used his own funding which has resulted in constraints in producing enough CDs. Currently, he has the demo CD and appeals for organisations which will be acknowledged on the sleeve if they help him produce for the nation.

Mapanda has worked with various artistes of repute.

"I have worked with Nox Guni, Alexio Kawara, Ignatius Mabasa (author and dub poet) Nathan Chitenga (Shame and Nathan fame), Denford Gambiza, Bootkin Klan, Pastor T. Munengwa (South Africa), Kunjelele (Botswana), Chase Mabutho (Botswana), Ndingo Johwa (Botswana), Pastor Karabo (South Africa), Kamvuthu (Botswana) and many more.

Funds permitting, Mapanda intends to have the "Zero-stigma" CD in two languages. Mapanda said that he is touched by orphans who end up on the streets.

"We find that most of the kids on the streets are orphans who have little means of survival, therefore our care is greatly needed for these less fortunate as a way of appreciating humanity. One of the songs raises awareness of the street kids, suffering and needing a loving hand to bring them up.

"We intend to produce videos of these songs, as we highlight issues of stigmatisation in a visual form.

"Since society is diverse, others preferring viewership to listenership, we therefore will be able to cater for all preferences and effectively reach out to a large populace," said the producer.

This festive season say no to stigma and help bring cheer to positive living.

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