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MUSIC SEARCH PROJECT (article first published : 2001-09-20)

A national search for music that highlights the challenges faced by people with disabilities and enhances their struggle for equality has been launched by the Thabo Mbeki Development Trust for Disabled People. At a South African Music Week seminar hosted by the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, CEO of the Trust Suzanne Daniels challenged the music industry to include disability issues on the South African music agenda.

Daniels proposed that musicians acknowledge the rights and dignity of citizens with disabilities. “We can do this with humour, love, anger – a whole range of emotions that make songwriting the expressive instrument it is. Music is a universal language; a way for us to tell our story in many different ways, but in one voice that speaks to us all about broader social and development issues.

“South Africa's deep-rooted musical past has an exciting future. It is critical that our music reflects South Africa’s rich diversity; that it develops in parallel with people’s lives - how and where they live. People with disabilities must no longer be excluded from mainstream society and culture; they must be part of this creative process. Music has been an integral part of South Africa’s struggle for freedom and is now central to our celebration of democracy.“

While participants in the music search will be rewarded with a cash prize, the songwriting project was more than a dream of prize money and public recognition: “The search for good music that includes and acknowledges people with disabilities is about the commitment of the music industry to make the dream of an inclusive society a reality,” says Suzanne Daniels. “Although South African human rights legislation and anti-discrimination policies are in place, serious inequalities still exist in our society. We cannot afford to perpetuate these divisions. It is up to us as citizens to ensure access to and integration for disabled people.”

Suzanne Daniels pointed out that the local industry had all the talent and tools required for great South African music in celebration of the country’s human rights culture. Musicians are urged to become involved in the creation of a society whose diversity would now serve as a factor of strength and enrichment rather than one of division and marginalisation. This would involve proactive development of an inclusive society that accommodates persons with diverse disabilities and a variety of needs.

More details on the music search project from (011) 726-4481 or e-mail: tmdtdp.ceo@acenet.co.za




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