Songstress fights for women/girls' rights

HARARE - Songstress Nyari Mashayamombe is known to the Zimbabwean community more as a human rights and social justice activist focusing on the rights of girls and young women than as a musician.

While she founded the non-governmental organisation TaLI five years ago which defends the rights of girls, yesterday Mashayamombe released a 15-track album titled Zvatiri which is her third offering.

The singer is very clear that her musical talent is one of the vehicles that she uses to advance human rights, especially girls’ and young women’s rights.

Inspired by international stars such as Angelique Kidjo, who have excelled in both their quest for human rights and also music, she is confident that this international music which she has created in this album will open up more doors for her to advocate for the rights of girls and young women nationally, regionally and internationally.

“Every revolution has mainly been won where music and advocacy has been mixed,” she said.

“The liberation wars were inspired and sustained by keeping the morale high through music. Governments and politicians have won campaigns through music, it means music can change things, it can reach the hearts of men, and this is exactly what I intend to do, use my music to further advance the rights of young people.”

Contained on this album is a track called Cry which she released in June this year, featuring the late Chiwoniso Maraire.

“In the song, we talk about the circumstances in which girls are being sexually-abused or married off young, ending up in child abuse called child marriages.

“It is my wish that you find Zvatiri soothing; healing, encouraging, giving hope, building confidence.”

The award winning artist-cum-gender activist says it has taken her years to come back to the studio because she has been busy making the world a safe place for girls.

“The album title Zvatiri was inspired by my long reflection of what it means to be an African, a black woman or man, a black African Child.

“I reflect in my title on the often temptation for Africans to feel inadequate when it comes to their forms of worship, their horse voices, often the big sized women who are blessed with curves, the dark chocolate skin which the African woman has been made to be ashamed of and of note being the thousands of young women who are skin bleaching.”

The album title reflects on African instruments of worship, including mbira which is often mistaken for a demonic by those who do not understand the culture and appreciation of the African Diversity.

Zvatiri, which is loosely translated to mean “Who We Are”, reinforces the fact that Africans are created the way they are for the glory of God. The way they worship and every instrument they use is beautiful in the eyes of God and is a sweet aroma to his nostrils, therefore there should never be a human being who thinks otherwise of these God created instrument, just as all other instruments are God created for his glory! African children should never apologise for who they are but to boldly stand and take their place in the world showing what their daddy gave them.

The album has a strong presence of Zimbabwe traditional jazz, afro-pop and a bit of house music. “It ranges from gospel, to social issues as well as love. To note on this album is a poem entitled Africa, which acknowledges the African independence and yet questions the reasons why African nations have remained poor. It challenges poor governance in the African nations which has exposed many to vulnerabilities and encourages the leaders and African young people to emancipate themselves and to rise!”

The whole of the album was written during the establishment of TaLI. “It is a testimony of who God is in my life, serving me in times of darkness, orchestrating my path and seeing myself coming out a victor. Such a typical song that speaks of the mysteries of God is Mhepo Yedenga while Ndirarame Sei is one track that many who depend on God will identify with.

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