UNHCR joins forces with music industry to promote refugee rights

17 June 2011 | Uncategorized

Pretoria – DJ Oskido’s label, Kalawa Jazzmee Records, has released a new song  in partnership with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) aimed at promoting unity and integration in South Africa.

The afropop/dance song, entitled ‘My brother’s keeper’ is written and performed by Zonke Dikana and Stoan Seete, courtesy of Kalawa Jazzmee Records.  It calls on members of the public to take responsibility and protect each other against human rights abuses. The music video features leading roles by soap star Matli Mohapeloa of Rhythm City fame, as well as rapper/budding actor, Motso Modisane.

Since xenophobia-related attacks erupted in townships in May 2008, there have been continuous sporadic attacks occurring across the country. Many refugees continue to live in fear, as their businesses and homes are often attacked and looted. Most recently, foreigners are being asked to close legally operating businesses or face being vandalized.

The song builds awareness around refugee rights as South Africa prepares for World Refugee Day, commemorated on 20 June. It will be launched on Sunday 19 June by Zonke and Stoan, at the St. Martins Church in Soweto, during the UNHCR’s official commemoration of the World Refugee Day. The event will be attended by Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Ms. Fatima Chohan.

This intervention is one of UNHCR’s many multi-faceted responses to the problem of xenophobia in South Africa.

“This is the first of a year-long project whereby we will endeavour to use a number of South African stars to educate their fans on the rights of refugees and the benefits of unity and integration in local communities,” said Nde ‘Wax’ Ndifonka of Lolhiphop Records, the label which manages the project on behalf of UNHCR.

“While we work with the government, social service providers, South African Police Services and other stakeholders to contain and hopefully reverse the situation, education and awareness remain essential tools in promoting unity and integration,” said UNHCR spokesperson, Tina Ghelli.

“We are encouraging both the refugees and nationals to accept and collaborate with each other, and I believe we as musicians can and should play an important role to encourage tolerance,” said Zonke.

Both refugees and South Africans came together to ensure that the project is a success, which is an important achievement in itself, adds Ghelli.

“What sets the process of making this music video apart is the active participation of the youth of Mamelodi and other townships, as well as the Somali and other refugee communities. It shows that there is a joint interest in curbing xenophobic violence, and we need to continue to focus on the positive role that both sides can play ensure peace and tolerance,” she said.

‘My Brother’s Keeper’ is also available for free download on the UNHCR website www.unhcr.org and on the Facebook page ‘My brother’s keeper (UNHCR)’. The video can also be viewed on Youtube (Zonke ft. Stoan Seete – My Brother\’s Keeper).

For more information, please contact:
Tina Ghelli, UNHCR +27 82 770 4189 or ghelli@unhcr.org
Nde Ndifonka, Lollhiphop Records +27 798105795 or wax@waxexperience.com