HARARE – Musicians Mambo Dhuterere, real name Darlington Mutseta and Feli Nandi, born Felistas Chipendo, have been drafted into an ongoing campaign by NGOs and an embassy to end the scourge of child marriages in the country.
The popular musicians have been appointed ambassadors of a campaign themed, “I Can Be More: Give Me A Chance/Ndipeiwo Mukana/Nginikani iThuba; I am a Child Not a Wife” launched recently by the Population Solutions for Health (PSH) and Population Services International (PSI) and the Swedish Embassy.
PSH anti-child marriages communications specialist Munyaradzi Dzinoitei said the increase in child marriage cases in the country prompted the launch of the campaign.
“The campaign is a realisation that Zimbabwe ranks poorly among countries with child marriage incidences. Studies are being done to ascertain areas with the highest prevalence of child marriages as well as the major causes in those districts,” he said.
Dzinoitei said girls, who are usually the victims, must be taught that early marriage was a form of abuse.
“Girls should be engaged as they are the primary targets of the campaign so as to increase their urgency to avert child marriages. Parents, guardians, sisters and brothers, the community at large and religious leaders must also actively speak out and shun child marriages.
“There must be engagements amongst various stakeholders to act against child marriages. We want enforcement of laws and behavioural change from individuals up to the community and national level,” he added.
The anti-child marriage activist said they had enlisted the services of artists to help spread the message against child abuse through their craft.
“So far we have Mambo Dhuterere and Feli Nandi; we will also engage traditional and religious leaders. We will also engage local girls who will share their experiences on child marriages in order to pull the lid off the realities of child marriages,” he said.
Mambo Dhuterere said child marriages were a menace that had to be stopped.
“I am a pastor beyond my artistry position. I volunteered to be part of the awareness campaign because l care about the values of women and children in our society. I had to use my influence to serve the right purpose,” he said.
The musician said he has also composed a song, sponsored by PSH, which speaks on the evils of child marriage. The song is yet to be released.
Dhuterere said he will continue to use his influence to stop women and children violations.
“We should all push against child marriages; it should never be a norm. There should be more platforms to extend dialogues on this cause. As an artist, I would love to continue visiting communities and spreading the word until we make enough impact, especially on changing all narratives in support of child marriages,” he said.
The campaign comes amid shock incidents of two 9-year-old minors who recently fell pregnant with one of them later assisted by doctors to give birth at the United Bulawayo Hospital.
Activists have called for stiffer penalties on those found guilty of abusing children.