Working Towards a Virus-free Generation

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By John Ekongo

WINDHOEK

In what can only be described as a commendable initiative taken up by young people across the globe, a European non-governmental organisation, Alliance 2015, has joined hands with various non-governmental organisastions (NGOs) in southern Africa to raise awareness about HIV/Aids.

Alliance 2015 is partnership between six NGOs across Europe, whose sole aim is to influence public opinion in the European Union on social factors that affect the southern African region. The various partners in the Alliance domain are CESVI from Italy, Concern from the Republic of Ireland, Hivos from the Netherlands, IBIS from Denmark and People In Need (PIN) from the Czech Republic.

As part of their initiative the Alliance 2015 has devised the virus free generation hip-hop tour campaign.

Virus free generation is a public campaign aimed at raising awareness among young people in Europe about the impact of HIV/Aids in southern Africa. The campaign also focusses on mobilising the youth in Europe to lobby for education, prevention and access to medicines for young people in southern Africa, who are affected by HIV/Aids.
Since January this year the tour has been ongoing in the southern Africa region, with Namibia the third country to be visited in collaboration with the local chapter of PIN. In Namibia the tour has been ongoing since March 1 and is expected to end on Monday.
PIN’s Africa branch is in Keetmanshoop. Among other things, it runs and operates a community centre in Keetmanshoop, called the Wake Centre. The centre provides support to individuals and families affected by HIV/Aids and tuberculosis. It also assists clients with socio-economic problems as a result of poverty and deprivation. The centre generates funds on its own.
The campaign is unique in the sense that it links up two successful role models and young artist from partner countries and carries forward positive messages using music.
In Namibia, local musician and Kora All Africa Music Awards nominee, Snazzy, teamed up with Tina, (real name Martina Csiilaghova), a hip-hop artist from the Czech Republic.
The Tsumeb-born artist –
whose real name is Frieda Shilongo – and her musical counterpart, as part of the Alliance initiative, had an audience-related programme with the residents of Keetmanshoop last week.
The two conducted music workshops. One such workshop brought the local community and artists together and demonstrated how to use rap as a musical genre – a tool of expression – in bringing about awareness about HIV/Aids.
The intention of such workshop is to advance the cause of rap music as an educational tool in delivering strong messages to public and policymakers.
It is estimated that globally every 15 seconds a young person aged between 15 and 24 years old is infected with HIV/Aids and Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the worst affected regions.
Through this initiative, according to the tour organisers, they hope European youth will gain an insight into the world of their peers in southern Africa.
At the end of the campaign, an album containing joint songs by the artists will be compiled and all artists who participated in this programme will perform at a concert slotted in for the Netherlands.
Apart from Namibia, the other participating countries in this initiative are Malawi, Tanzania and South Africa.

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