Mzbel Again…For Very Different Reasons
A few years ago when female hiplifer Mzbel released her absolutely fabulous 16 Years, the song was warmly received by most Ghanaian music enthusiasts for its bouncy rhythm and blunt message against child sexual molestation. Perhaps Mzbel herself did not anticipate the huge impact her message was going to have on the general public many of whom kept discussing the song not just for its lure to dance but also for its creativity and boldness at addressing a subject that many preferred to talk about it in hush-hush terms. Of course Mzbel’s critics raised some considerable hue and cry over the singer’s own performance style which they described as erotic given the rather skimpy costumes that she sometimes wore. Even when she was herself sexually molested by students of KNUST and later by armed robbers, her critics would not let up. But the pretty 28-year-old singer has not given up; infact she is taking her anti-child molestation campaign to another level. She is preparing to leave for the USA, where she will be addressing an African Women in the Diaspora conference slated for June 20 and 21, 2008. It will be hosted by the Minnesota African Women’s Association (MAWA). As she explained to Showbiz, it has been her dream to make an impact on the lives of less fortunate children, especially those at James Town in Accra where she grew up. According to her, she started a project to benefit such children but it failed due to poor management. During that period, Mzbel said she lived with about 14 children in her home at Gbawe. Commenting on how she became a part of the US programme, she said “apparently, MAWA had been browsing my website and listening to some of my music. They later got in touch with my manager in London and that was how it all started. They will be using my song, 16 Years to promote the event.” Mzbel is expected to speak on the theme, “Addressing the Cultural Rights and Practices that Harm African Women and Girls — the Role of African Men, Women and Youth”. She will share her experiences with girls and women and advise the youth on how to deal with some of society’s abusive cultural practices, by speaking up and fighting back. Showbiz wanted to know how she was preparing for the challenge ahead, to which she said, “I’ve written my speech and handed it over to experts in London to work on. I must say that I’m a bit nervous because nothing of this sort has ever happened to me before. But I feel honoured and pleased to be part of such an event. I hope to showcase Ghana to the rest of the world”, she said. The conference which will take place at the University of Minnesota Law School is the third African Women’s conference to be organised by MAWA. Participants and presenters come from all over the US, Africa and Europe with speakers such as Naomi Tutu (daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu) and the judge and prosecutor from the award-winning Cameroonian BBC-produced documentary: Sisters in Law, honouring previous events. MAWA promotes the health and well-being of African refugees and immigrant women and their families in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul through research, advocacy, education and programming. A Pan-African women’s non-profit organisation, it also provides services and programmes of interest to women from all African countries living in Minnesota. From the Minnesota conference, Mzbel will be attending a charity fashion show dubbed “The Urban Exposure Fashion Show” in Atlanta to raise money for the Girls Institute of Science and Technology in Agogo, Ghana. She then moves to Paris where she will be giving a presentation on “Women, the World needs You.” The conference brings together black women within Paris and educates them on how they can be of help to fellow women in the developing world and vice versa.
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