In Conversation with: Prudence Mabhena
My name is Prudence Mabhena and I’m 31 years old, first born in a family of 4.
What is your proudest achievement to date?
Winning the Skyz Metro FM Best Female Achiever Award on December 22nd, 2017.
How does your disability affect your daily life?
I need an assistant to help me with most daily activities. That means I have very little privacy. My career involves a lot of travelling and I am unable to travel without an assistant.
What adaptations have you had to make, to provide yourself with better living conditions?
Acquiring an electric wheelchair has made life easier because I no longer have to be pushed around by people on a manual wheelchair. It gives me the freedom to move around at home, in the neighbourhood and in the city at large without any assistance.
Given the choice, what would you like to do for the rest of your life?
I would love to travel all over the world while singing and motivating people along the way.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
King George VI Memorial School for the Disabled taught me to believe in myself and that is the best piece of advice I ever got.
Who are the rocks in your life?
God is the everlasting rock, and my maternal grandmother is my everything.
Where did your passion for music come from?
Music is in me. My maternal grandmother taught me how to sing when I was very young, and my father also used to sing, though he did not sing professionally.
What do you hope people take away from listening to your music?
I hope they take away a message of hope.
Which artists do you wish to work with and why?
I would have really loved to work with the late Chiwoniso Maraire because her music was extraordinary. I would also love to work with Ringo Madlingozi because his music is eternal, and he is truly a legend.
Of the artists that you have worked with to date, who have been your favourites?
My favourite collaboration was with Blessing “Bled” Chimanga, though we are yet to record a song together.
Of all your songs, which one is your favourite?
Mubvunzo from my upcoming album.
Who is your favourite Zimbabwean artist?
Prudence Katomeni Mbofana.
What are you most fond of being Zimbabwean?
It’s a beautiful and peaceful country with God-fearing people.
What words of advice do you have for young disabled people that look up to you as a role model?
The only disability in life is a bad attitude, so stay positive.
Talk us through your routine when writing a song or working on choreography?
I don’t sit down and say I’m going to write a song, it all just comes naturally. Sometimes I dream a song and then bring it to life. Same goes for choreography, it just comes naturally.
What is your view on the accessibility of opportunities for disabled people in Zimbabwe currently?
Zimbabwe is not doing badly at all concerning opportunities for disabled people. Looking at people like Soneni Gwizi, Edmore Masendeke, Michelle Sibanda, Velaphi Gumbo, Liberty Luphahla, Mehluli Ndlovu etc., they have done very well for themselves because of the knowledge and support that they received from the country’s education system and from companies that are open to employing people with disabilities.
What adjustments do you think are required to provide an accessible environment for disabled people in schools, workplaces, shops etc.?
Wheelchair access ramps are still very few.
Elevators in most buildings are old and unsafe or they are not working altogether.
The government could provide motor vehicles which accommodate wheelchairs as part of public transportation for people with disabilities.
What have been the best moments of your career and what have been your lowest?
The best moment was being the subject of the Academy Award winning documentary “Music by Prudence”.
There is no worst moment, it has been a memorable journey thus far.
Who inspires you the most in life?
What advice do you have for people who are not disabled to better deal with people who are disabled?
Be patient, we are all people and we are all the same. Do not feel sorry for people with disabilities. People should also keep in mind that being disabled does not necessarily mean that one is poverty stricken.
How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as someone who lived life to the fullest despite the circumstances and gave hope to others.
How can people get in touch with you or access your work?