Music by Prudence tells the uplifting story of Prudence Mabhena’s
struggles to overcome poverty and discrimination. Prudence’s story is one of abandonment by her mother and father’s family, and then of a new home at the King George VI School for the Disabled
Prudence Mabhena is a Zimbabwean singer-songwriter, who is central figure in the 2009 Academy Award wining documentary directed and produced by Roger Ross Williams, Music by Prudence.

Prudence was born with a congenital disease known as Arthrogryphosis which deforms the joint of the body. The disease cost her both legs and makes it difficult to use her arms.

The Zimbabwean society into which she was born considers children with disabilities as carrying the taint of witchcraft. Families of children with disabilities are assumed cursed, because of this, many disable children are forsaken and hidden from the rest of the society. Prudence and other members of her band called Liyana, all disabled, have managed to prevail over stereotypes and inspire the same people what once saw them as cursed.

After the parents abandoned her at the age of 4, her maternal grand mother, a rural farmer took her in and raised her. Her grandmother taught her to sing, she kept prudence by her side while she worked in the fields. Her grandmother would sing to her, and Prudence found solace in music and music fed her soul.

Prudence created her own “family” with the other disabled children she met, who shared her passion of music in the King George VI School in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, . The band, Liyana was born as a class project and draws upon the talents of eight musicians, all born and raised in Zimbabwe. Even with the challenges of working in team, in barely an hour, Liyana had produced four great tunes. From the start they had a special flair for communicating musically through various subject and musical styles, including gospel, reggae, and traditional Shona music.

Music, Prudence says, brings joy into her life, according to Williams, director of Music by Prudence, she sings all day. in the film there's a scene where she sings while having her teeth brushed by a carer.

Prudence a versatile vocalist of the band has her voice likened to that of Miriam Makeba, the South African Emancipation Singer. Other members include Tapiwa Nyengera, Energy Maburutse, Honest Mupatse, Marvelous Mbulo, Vusani Vuma and they specialize in marimbas, African drums, shakers, keyboard, and piano.

In 2006, Liyana won the Crossroads Africa Inter-regional Music Festival in Mozambique and went on tour Sweden, The Netherlands and Belgium. In July, 2007 as featured performers at the Bulawayo Theatre, Liyana concluded with a new song “Never give up”, a title that is especially meaningful because it is the mantra learned at KGVI School that inspires them to this day.

Roger Ross Williams, the director/producer of the film, allowed Prudence and other members of Liyana to tell their own stories through interviews and Prudence did some narration of the film. It’s truly a phenomenal experience to see a film in which people with disabilities tell their own stories from their own perspectives.

Prudence says she has forgiven her family for their mistreatment. Her father with streaming down his face begged for her forgiveness at the airport when she returned to Zimbabwe after the Oscar ceremony.

Prudence now a teacher at the school where she discovered how to put her joy in music has a optimistic attitude about the good her music is doing and hopes her work with Human Right Watch will bring attention to the needs of people with disabilities in the Third World.


Music by Prudence
Media Dis & Dat

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