Artists have a responsibility need to engage with social issues that raise awareness on HIV and AIDS, prominent gospel artist Stanley Gwanzura, popularly known as Pastor G, has said.
Pastor G was speaking at a recent World Aids Day commemoration discussion held at the Book Café.
He said artistes were involved in shaping the values and norms that inform popular culture through entertainment and therefore have an obligation to promote positive values.
“Artists need to realise they have a life that goes beyond money and singing. They need to have a clear vision more than just producing an album or doing a song,” said Gwanzura.
“Artists need to develop a vision for life. If their dreams and aspirations are clear, they will be able to judge the consequences of their actions,” said Gwanzura.
He said the role of the artist was to ensure that they acted responsibly and had to sing about HIV and AIDS or get actively involved in projects to donate goods or support orphanages.
The discussion, titled “Know Your Rights and Fight HIV and Aids” was held to promote knowledge on the type of rights that are impacted by the epidemic as well as what role artists can play in the fight against the disease.
Cleopatra Ndlovu, a women’s rights and Aids activist, said there was need for a new mindset on people living with HIV and Aids.
“The minute someone says that they are HIV infected, their sexuality is put into question. Yet people living with HIV have a right to enter into marriage and to reproduce.
“People living with HIV are entitled to safe and satisfying sex. But the issue of disclosure is quite important especially with relationships,” said Cleopatra Ndlovu.
Ndlovu said the rights of women were under serious threat due to HIV and Aids because they were often the first ones to know their status after mandatory testing at antenatal clinics.
“It’s important to know and discuss issues around HIV and Aids and rights because when we know our rights, we will be able to make informed choices,” said Ndlovu.
Gwanzura added that there was need to equip artists with ideological, conceptual and philosophical capacity to articulate HIV-related issues with competency.
“Artists have brand power or equity to articulate issues but unfortunately a lot of our artists are not connected to the reality of HIV as it affects local communities.
“Most of them sing from an experiential perspective but lack knowledge of the issues involved which severely limits their impact,” `he said.