Message in Reggae fights abuse
It was unusual to see so many people with dreadlocks playing soccer and netball together at the playgrounds in Orlando West. Again, it made sense since the games were part of the Mzansi Reggae Summer Festival against gender-based violence and femicide. Reggae artists, dance hall lovers and DJs and fans united once again to add their voice to the government’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign. This awareness is observed from 25 November to 10 December annually.
“I even stopped going to church because it is the priests who are doing it [abuse] now,” laments Empress Shane Msomi. Her organization Empressmenen for Change mediates for abused women. “I teach them skills development. I am a fashion designer by profession, so I help them with tailoring, and we help to sell their craft.”
She says they empower abused women so that should they leave abusive relationships or marriages they would be able to support themselves. “From our experience, it is mostly women who are staying home, doing nothing who are subjected to abuse from men who are providers,” she warns.
The event was hosted at Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers. It attracted throngs of visitors and activists from far and near. One of the organisers, Fikile Makhalemele of the Lioness Production, says it was a collective effort from many stakeholders including community members and the Department of Art, Sports and Culture. “We do bring artists from other provinces into our province to gather here during the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children as Reggae creators and Rastafari community. We voice, fight and say to Black people, ‘Remember who you are; that’s not who we are. We need to build each other.’”
It was exciting to see former Orlando Pirates acrobatic goals stopper, Patson “Kamuzu” Banda and Bafana Bafana’s Edwards “Magents” Motale. They handed over trophies and cheques to the winning and teams that participated in the games. In soccer, Lions FC whipped Magents 12 – 2, and in netball Wakanda beat Green Mambas 16 – 12.