God created creatures in this world and the universe not in vain or with jest. The high proficiency of creation is manifested in various things that human beings have been able to produce to support their lives and bear testimony on the existence of God. There is no doubt that the arts that we can see today, is one of the media of communication, which is also used by different faiths to enlighten people about the existence of God and his exemplary works.
These messages that are delivered day and night to different audiences, regardless of their inclinations, through artistic work continue to make impact in the lives of so many people. Many people through such art have embraced many concepts including HIV/AIDS whole heartedly. It is upon this background that artists have remained to be the icons of any society, whereby people hold them in high esteem.
They equally believe, appreciate their work and respect them. But why should we think about art in promoting maternal health? It is because the majority of the people have strong admiration in the work of artists and such influence has been recorded, tested and proved to be effective in the history of humankind for many centuries.
It did not come as a surprise when I learnt recently that the Tandabui Health Access Tanzania (THAT)/ Afya Radio was mobilizing artists in Lake Zone region to participate in a unique competition which will be searching for the best talent in conveying maternal health concepts to women especially pregnant mothers.
The CEO Dr Joseph Kavit told the ‘Daily News on Saturday’ that the challenge was for the artists to address crucial issues on health especially maternal deaths. It is expected that after this screening exercise to search for 20 best artists before screening them to top five and then top three, there will be something to communicate with a big (bang) impact.
The bottom-line is for the message to deliver a strong appeal to pregnant women that when they go to the clinics they should be able to ask for basic clinical services which makes their pregnancy safe and checks the maternal deaths. It is described by medical experts that maternal health covers the period of pregnancy from the time a woman conceives, during the period of pregnancy and 42 days after delivery.
Prior to this exercise there was a seminar organized by THAT/ Afya Radio meant to enlighten the artists on crucial issues relating to maternal health. There are already over 150 artists from Lake Zone region (Mwanza, Kagera and Mara) who have collected forms ready to participate in this grand competition geared towards promoting maternal health to be sponsored by THAT/Afya Radio based in Mwanza.
When mentoring the young artists who had turned up at the seminar, the Afya Radio Manager, Doto Biteko who is a specialist in theatre arts, told them that it was time that they should think big. He reminded them of their role in the social, political, economic and religious spheres.
For example he said that most often when any event is set, it is deemed important by the organizers to bring the artists first, to create a mood or tempo for the spectators. How many times have we seen this happening, I think a trillion times. The idea behind this music performance in an election campaign or other event is to pull the crowd.
It has been established beyond reasonable doubt that for example musicians are good connectors. It was a great inspiration for the young artists who were more than 100 at the seminar when the Manager told them that they were very important people. He reminded them that their artistic work in form of music will be supported by their audience, especially pregnant mothers and women, once it is well crafted and comes from their souls and minds.
The artists were also told that they should have pride with their work and keep to professionalism. This can be achieved by taking time to research and contemplate on other artistic works. They ought to be ready to learn and transform the new skills in messages that will benefit the people.
For example the current situation facing maternal health in Mwanza, where 3-4 women die from maternal deaths should be a course for concern for such artists. It is obvious that any art is subjected to forces of supply and demand. The issue of marketing your products is as crucial as in any other business undertakings. The Manager was alerting the musicians to be conscious all the time that they need to know the tastes and demands of their clients and the market at large.
He was also challenging the artists that they should find a better way of presenting rare specie of music which has not either been introduced or dominated the market. You will be talking about pregnant women’s right to clinical care. It has to come in a flavour that will deliver an impact to the medical practitioners and also hold accountable those in authority.
It is all about blending the three: realism, idealism and romance. Much as we want to impress our audience especially women in the type of lyrics and words we are using, through such soothing songs and sounds, let the music play and the message should remain clear that there should be zero tolerance on maternal deaths. It is the crux of the matter that the songs should build capacity for such women to be courageous and brave to demand their rights as far as maternal clinical services are concerned.
But the Manager was very clear that all this is about ones integrity. If every artist who is attending this seminar will go back and think on what he or she wants to achieve, everything will be possible. The process of achieving this objective to end maternal mortality in the country can be achieved through among others for every artist to think, critique their ideas, evaluate them and then start composing their songs. It needs one’s time and space outside the hectic public sphere for one to come out with a unique song that will save women’s lives.