Musicians should fight stigma: Zhakata

Zimbabwe's music icon Leonard "Karikoga" Zhakata has challenged fellow musicians to utilise their influence to fight stigma against People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWH).

Leonard “Karikoga” Zhakata

Zhakata said musicians have power to influence and shape the way people think.

He said it is in this context that artistes should "use music to fight stigma against HIV patients."

The Mugove hitmaker attributed stigma to lack of aggressive awareness campaigns. "Stigmatisation is as a result of lack of effective communication.

Many people are living more than 20 years. This means some people are ill-informed. There is need for more awareness campaigns. As musicians this is where we come in," said the prolific hitmaker.

"It's time we put that influence to good use. Let's use our music to fight stigma against HIV patients. We should contribute towards Behaviour Change.

Musicians should take a leading role in spreading the message to create an HIV free Zimbabwe," he advised.

The soft-spoken lyricist lamented that despite the fact that musicians are also vulnerable to the pandemic, HIV-based organisations were hesitant to engage them.

He said they have resorted to meeting periodically exchanging updates on HIV-related issues.

"Our profession exposes us to tempting environments. We travel a lot and we are exposed to different environments. Most of the time we perform in beerhalls and we all know what happens there. It's up to us as individuals to behave otherwise musicians are vulnerable to HIV and AIDS," said the though-provoking lyricist.

Zhakata's sentiments come at a time when Populations Services International (PSI) male circumcision manager Roy Dlamini acknowledged that celebrities and public figures play a very pivotal role in the fight against HIV.

"We have discovered that when key public figures go for HIV testing, their following also went for HIV testing," said Dlamini.

Afro-jazz superstar Oliver Mtukudzi, gospel diva Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave, reggae-dancehall kingpin Winky D and urban groover Stunner are some of the artistes who have participated in HIV awareness campaigns.

The National AIDS Council (NAC) communications manager Medelina Dube previously acknowledged that musicians are classified in the Most at Risk Populations (MARPS) due to the nature of their job. She also revealed that the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe signalled their interest to work with NAC.

Post published in: Entertainment

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