Legendary Steve Kekana and Babsy Mlangeni will headline the Arts Ability Festival on November 29 at Dr. Petrus Molemela Stadium Indoor Centre.
The show will be held under the theme ‘Put Yourself In My Shoe’.
The festival is aimed at giving recognition and honour to disabled people and celebrating their extraordinary talent in the field of arts whilst embracing the values of the Freedom Charter.
The event forms part of the celebration of International Disability Month.
“The difficulties of disabled people, in general, are what inspired the festival,” says event organiser Bongani Tshabalala of Free State Performing Arts and Transport of People with Disability (FSPATPD).
Tshabalala said the festival highlights the need for society to do better when it comes to the needs of disabled people. “Disabled people must not be isolated in any way,” he pleaded. “They must be accommodated within available infrastructures such as community halls, libraries, public schools, public transport, and other amenities. While it is not our mandate to ensure all these, it is our responsibility within the arts sector to accommodate them as best as possible, hence this venture.”
Tshabalala said, “Icons of our music industry have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that if given a platform irrespective of background or disability, one can reach leaps and bounds in any field.”
He cited Lazarus Kgagudi (1980s disco music star), Babsy Mlangeni (70s and 80s mbaqanga star), the late Stompie Mavi (afro-jazz icon), Skhulu Miya (top gospel music producer), the late Mgqashiyo Ndlovu (maskandi artist), Lucas Sithole (wheelchair Paralympian and maskandi music star) and Sgwili Zuma (multi-award-winning gospel music artist with albinism).
“These are just some of the many untold stories of people perceived as disabled,” noted Tshabalala.
He added: “Steve Kekana has indeed become a beacon of hope, not only to those who have disabilities, but also an inspiration to many. This is a blind man from a very poor background, excelling in the music industry, becoming a revered radio personality and going on to become a top lawyer.”
The programme will provide a platform for disabled youth and women to share ideas with non-disabled people and eradicate the stigma associated with them.
“We want to stimulate sustainable job creation for disabled youth and women in the arts and we will involve artists with disabilities in the event, working together with non-disabled people and taking the arts sector forward,” indicated Tshabalala.