Features In focus

Zed Me Free takes HIV testing to young people

THIS was more than just a musical concert – it was a concert meant to end HIV. Well, of course the concert will not literally end the HIV, but it is another laudable effort in the fight against HIV.
Dubbed ZED Me Free, A Concert to end HIV, the show, which took place last Saturday in the Lusaka Showgrounds, took quite a unique approach.
For one to obtain a ticket to enter the show, featuring some of the most notable names on the local music scene such as Maiko Zulu, Danny Kaya, Mampi, Macky II, Afunika, Chef 187, B’Flow and John Chiti, one had to be tested for HIV.
This initiative was by the Muchimba Music Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness through the power of music; and AIDs Healthcare Foundation, a global organisation providing cutting-edge medicine and advocacy that has been working to control Zambia’s AIDS epidemic since 2002.
As a lead up to the concert, the organisers came up with a number of roadshows in various locations in Lusaka. These roadshows took the form of mobile clinics, where HIV testing was taking place for those wanting to gain entry to the main show.
Well, the roadshows proved a major success.
“The clinics have proved to be a great success with a total of 4,835 [two weeks before the actual show] people having been tested so far. Knowing your status is a step in the right direction in the ongoing war against aids,” says AIDS Healthcare Foundation Zambia prevention program manager Francis Kasonde.
The Muchimba Music Foundation was founded by Thomas Muchimba Buttenschøn, a Zambian-Danish musician.
Thomas was born in Zambia, to a Danish father and a Zambian mother. His parents then moved to Denmark shortly after his birth. In 1985, they were diagnosed with HIV, and in 1994, they lost the battle against AIDS.
Aged nine at the time, Thomas was not expected to survive, but he did.
Thomas later discovered his profound interest in music.
His official biography puts it better.
“It was at this stage that he discovered his profound interest in music, and, more specifically, in creating music and songs which seamlessly blend his transformative lyrical content and his superbly melodic guitar. Thomas’ music has now taken him to the greatest heights imaginable. In 2004, after years of struggle and dedication, Thomas’ debut album ‘Fantastic Monday’ topped the Danish charts and put Thomas on the map as a highly skilled and formidable artiste,” the biography reads.
“In 2011, Thomas and his beautiful wife, Cana, welcomed their first born son into the world. Fatherhood triggered a deep desire within Thomas to use his music to help teach and empower others. Since then, Thomas has harnessed the power of his music, and the music of others, to help foster positive changes within society.
“Now a leading voice in Danish pop and beyond, Thomas is driven and determined to use his platform to help spread his messages of positivity and social awareness. This is the Muchimba Music Foundation. This is Thomas Muchimba Buttenschøn.”
The Muchimba Music Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness through the power of music.
The Foundation’s website reads: “Cofounder Thomas Muchimba Buttenschøn has spread his messages of positivity and hope through his pervasive and powerful music. Thomas’ songwriting has taken him around the world from his home country of Denmark to his motherlands of Zambia.
“It’s within these journeys that Thomas has seen, first-hand, just how the power of music can change the hearts and minds of entire communities and help create positive changes within societies.
Music is a powerful tool. The Muchimba Music Foundation harnesses that power and uses music to enlighten, to empower and to draw people together.”
Last month, the Independent newspaper of the United Kingdom ran a story headlined HIV positive musician Thomas Muchimba Buttenschøn putting on free concert for people who take HIV test.
The story partly read: “The 1st of December is World AIDS Day, and millions of people around the world will be wearing red ribbons to raise awareness of the ongoing AIDS pandemic.
Danish singer Thomas Muchimba Buttenschøn, was born HIV positive, is doing something truly unique to get people tested for HIV: he’s putting on a concert where, instead of purchasing a ticket, you take an HIV test.
Buttenschøn is putting on the concert for the Muchimba Music Foundation – which he co-founded – in the hope of spreading his message of “positivity through music”.
This is what you would call positive vibrations.

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