I love to sing the praises of noteworthy, humble and amazing Zimbabwean people, and today I write about someone who is once more a true inspiration to me, and a patriot of her country. It is wonderful to see Zimbabweans flying the flag for Zimbabwe on an international stage, in the lime light and proving that no matter where you are from, no matter what hardships your people endure, there is life, vibrancy and success dwelling right within our midst.
Not many people would expect a girl from Matabeleland in Zimbabwe to come too much. No one would really expect that a girl who speaks Ndebele as her first language could entertain a world of musical lovers, let alone tour the world, become a remarkable young woman and such a powerful ambassador for her nation and people, but more than anything else, no one would expect a young lady from Zimbabwe, who suffered from Arthrogryphosis to such a degree that she was restricted to a wheel chair since a young age to be such a powerful beacon of achievement to those out there who suffer with disabilities.
Born and educated in Zimbabwe, Prudence Mabhena went to KGVI School where she quickly grew to love music and was easily spotted as having a voice of beauty. In 2002 she joined Inkonjane, a traditional choir where she was made the lead singer. She quickly went from strength to strength and now sings as the lead vocalist for Liyana, and internationally renowned band from Zimbabwe. With extensive tours of the US and various other countries, Prudence has wowed crowds with her crystal clear voice, and amazing range.
Not only is she a magnificent singer, but she sings in seven languages, Ndebele and Shona being the main ones, with English, Dutch, German, Hebrew and Spanish to name a few. She is a composer and famous for her Ndebele click songs. She is a teacher and vocal coach to young students and even though restricted to a wheelchair is a well respected dance coach and choreographer.
Prudence also has a strong background in theatre and film, having written and assisted in the production of a dramatisation used in the education of deaf people in Zimbabwe about the risks of AIDS. She acts as much as she is able always keen to become a part of what she works on, and with a deep desire to touch the hearts of her people. Prudence has an amazingly big heart for her people, considering she came from a home where she was considered a burden due to her disability as she has to rely on assistance for so much. It would be understandable for anyone in those circumstances to become bitter about life, and sink into a depression, but remarkably Prudence has set an example to anyone who is feeling down and in despair.
Prudence dug deep and found a way to rise above the world around her, and she is truely a remarkable figure of the pride of our nation. I take my hat off to a woman who has worked so hard to help those around her, she is an active campaigner to raise funding for the very institution that educated her and gave her that opportunity to become all she could. She has worked hard to establish a proud reputation, singing with the liked of Encarnacion Vazquez in Bulawayo in 2005.
She has worked with the Hora Theatre in Switzerland and won multiple awards in Zimbabwe, Sweden, worked with Ms Malaika, and done multiple performances for charity and other bodies around the world. Finally at the tender age of 21, Prudence Mabhena has received recognition of the highest accolade in art and film. She and her band Liyana were on the 2nd Feb 2010 nominated for an Oscar. The nomination comes in the category of “Best Documentary Short Subject” and tells the story of how children with disabilities in Zimbabwe are considered to be tainted by witchcraft, where it’s more likely to be hidden from view, abandoned and abused, than accepted into society.
I am vastly proud of Prudence and her band, all of whom are disabled. They are a true testament to what can be achieved by anyone with a heart, dream and the hunger to achieve their goal in life. To see her smile and hear her sing is an honour and I am proud to say that yes, even a Zimbabwean can win an Oscar. Though she may not have won it yet, in my book she’ll be a winner all the same. Respect.