November 20, 2011
Freedom to Create Prize Awards Ceremony and Concert 2011: An inspired event
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden hosted the Freedom to Create Prize Awards Ceremony and Concert on Saturday, November 19, where annual Freedom to Create prizes were awarded to four exemplary people with touching life stories, and entertainers from across Africa played to a packed audience.
Freedom to Create aims to encourage the use of the arts in influencing positive social change and building thriving societies. The annual Freedom to Create Prize Awards Ceremony and Concert is a celebration of the courage of artists who have used their creative talents to address social issues, defend human rights and inspire change.
After a brief introduction by TV personality and MC for the evening, Leanne Manas, and a speech by Vice-President of Freedom to Create, Priti Devi, The Gugulethu Tenors took to the stage to get the crowd started with a soulful performance, harmonising and jiving to their own unique mix of African-inspired opera.
Next up, prizes were awarded. The 2011 Freedom to Create Main Prize was awarded to Sister Fa, a female Senegalese rapper who uses her music to raise awareness of the dangers of female genital mutilation. The first runner-up of the 2011 Freedom to Create Main Prize was Ayat Al-Gormezi from Bahrain, a 20-year-old poet and student who was detained and put on trial earlier this year for criticising government policy in a poem performed in Pearl Square.
The second runner-up for the 2011 Freedom to Create Main Prize was Ramy Essam. Ramy started out as a mere participant in the January Revolution in Egypt but was quickly called upon by his fellow protestors to provide music for their struggle. Ramy spent 18 days in Tahrir Square in Cairo, writing music and performing songs to motivate protesters. These stories have inspired people around the world, and the artists continue to be symbols of resistance and voices of change.
The most heart-wrenching story had to be that of Win Maw, who won the 2011 Imprisoned Artist Prize. Win Maw is one of Myanmar’s most recognised musicians and uses his music to express the political views of the Burmese people. Win Maw has been imprisoned in Myanmar since 2008 and still has more than a decade to complete his sentence, although he continues to make and distribute his struggle-music illegally from prison to keep his countrymen’s fighting spirit alive.
Following the prize giving, Namibian kwaito star, Eric Sell, aka EeS, and his crew revved up the crowd with energetic song and dance routines. With his music, this young artist speaks out against social injustice and calls for greater inter-racial understanding.
Last but not least, internationally renowned Senegalese superstar Baaba Maal and his band took to the stage, entertaining the crowd until the very end. At one point, Baaba Maal was joined on stage by Sister Fa who rapped between his African beats, both of them exuding boundless energy. Even more inspiring was the incredible jam on stage towards the end of the show when Baaba Maal and his band were joined on stage by EeS, prize winner Ramy Essam, and Sudanese theatre activist, Ali Mahdi Nouri. This impromptu act saw musicians from across Africa with their different musical genres collaborating on stage, giving each other space to perform individually, while at the same time jamming together and having a jol!
Proceeds from the Freedom to Create Prize Awards Ceremony and Concert ticket sales are being donated to the Music Therapy Community Clinic in Cape Town, a non-profit organisation that engages with previously disadvantaged communities through music therapy.