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INTERVIEW: Yvonne Chaka Chaka's 'Motherland Tour' film advocates for women's rights

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 12 Oct 2010 21:58 GMT
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LONDON (AlertNet) - For South African Yvonne Chaka Chaka, who was born under oppressive apartheid rule in Johannesburg's Soweto township and launched her career as a teenager in the 1980s singing lyrics about human rights, the same themes still resonate today in spite of socio-political advances.

In such songs as "I Cry for Freedom" and "Mamaland" Chaka Chaka expressed ideas which continue to influence her work advocating to improve the plight of the world's poor as a United Nations envoy for malaria and a UNICEF goodwill ambassador.

"When I started singing -- for me, it was a wake up call -- I knew with my music I could start airing my views and fighting for justice and education," she told AlertNet in an interview in London on Tuesday.

"Fighting the injustices of apartheid, and fighting for human rights today, for education, for medication, for health, it's almost the same thing, so my music tallies very well with what I am doing now."

Chaka Chaka is promoting a new documentary film titled "The Motherland Tour: A Journey of African Women" as part of her efforts to boost U.N. Millennium Development goals to help women achieve equal rights, improve maternal health, reduce child mortality and combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

"This documentary is about women of Africa saying to themselves: 'If you empower us we can do things'," Chaka Chaka said, adding that "they are telling their stories I am just there to make sure their stories are being heard by those that are in power."

The Millennium Development Goals are eight measurable global targets set by the U.N. in 2000 to be achieved by 2015, intended to improve the standard of living for the world's poor.

"Is it a crime to be born in Africa, is it a crime to be born black and poor?" Chaka Chaka said.

"No, but I want to say to those people, don't sit there and feel sorry for yourselves, stand up and do something for yourselves. Don't wait for governments to do for you, do something for yourself."

"The Motherland Tour" will be broadcast on television via South African Broadcasting Association in December and will be screened to select audiences around the world as Chaka Chaka seeks backing for public distribution.

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