Top artists take to the stage in two festivals to unite in the fight against crime

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

Fine songbird Nonhlanhla Mafu of Mafikizolo is thrilled to be in the powerful lineup of top performers in the Divas Concert scheduled for SuperSport Park in Centurion on April 29.

Some of the other local artists billed for the sixth yearly Divas Concert, themed Together Fighting Crime and Abuse of Women and Children, are ZamaJobe, KB, Siphokazi, Judith Sephuma, Rebecca Malope, Sibongile Khumalo, Letta Mbulu and overseas entertainers India Arie and Oleta Adams.

The concert is sponsored by Sowetan, Sunday World and SABC2 and is a part of Sowetan's multipronged anti-crime and criminality campaign.

The Stop Crime Drama Festival at the Mmabatho Mmabana Cultural Centre in Mafikeng, North West, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, also has an anti-crime theme.

The drama festival is sponsored by North West Arts and Culture Department and the National Arts Council.

Mafu told Sowetan on Monday that she was thrilled to be sharing the stage with young contemporaries and veterans as part of an anti-crime project that is also rallying the nation against the abuse of women and children.

"The fact that we are artists with a huge following means we already have a platform and a ready and willing audience to whom we can relay a positive message discouraging crime and criminality as well as the abuse of women and children," she said.

Mafu said it was not surprising that most educational or awareness campaigns featured artists to attain certain social or community development goals "because artists, including musicians, are positive role models".

Asked for a word of advice or warning to youngsters ensnared by the demon of crime and criminality, Mafu said: "It is best for young people to look up to positive role models such as our political leaders, including President Thabo Mbeki, and a number of sports heroes, as well as reformed criminals.

"Looking up to, and emulating the igintsa, car thief, from next door or down the street is likely to land a young person in trouble with the law sooner or later."

Morris Roda, the concert's promoter for the sixth year, said: "The national challenge posed by crime, criminality and the abuse of women and children is not the responsibility of the government alone because the people of South Africa have the collective power to defeat the scourges of crime, criminality and the abuse of women and children."

Veteran singer Mercy Ayashisa Amateki Pakela, actors Darlington Michaels, Jabu Nkosi and Jerry Phele, and poet Masoja Msiza will be guest artists at the Stop Crime Drama Festival, which has been staged across South Africa for the past decade.

The festival is the brainchild of actors, directors and playwrights Martin Koboekae and Julian Seleke-Mokoto. Pakela will sing some of her evergreen songs on opening night. Msiza will recite some of his exhilarating poems. Michaels, who plays the cunning Papa G in the soapie Isidingo on SABC3 on weekday evenings, will team up with Phele and Nkosi in the stage play Herebedesh.

Phele and Nkosi played the loony characters Mofokeng and Chirwali respectively in the erstwhile SABC1 comedy series Emzini Wezinsizwa.

l These events fit the ideals of the Sowetan nation-building philosophy and work that is articulated by the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation across several major youth and community development projects and programmes.