Prudence Sings


Prudence Mabhena from the musical group Liyana
Photo by Osato Dixon

Liz Waid and Joshua Leo look at the singer Prudence Mabhena. She has faced many difficulties in her life, but today she is making beautiful music.

Watch Video


Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Liz Waid.

Voice 2

And I'm Joshua Leo. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

This is Prudence. Prudence is a young woman from Zimbabwe. As you can hear, she is very skilled at singing. She is the lead singer of a musical group called Liyana. A few years ago, few people had heard of Prudence or Liyana. But today, people all over the world know who they are. Today's Spotlight is on Prudence and her musical group Liyana. Their story has inspired people all over the world! Maybe it will inspire you too!

Voice 2

Prudence Mabhena is 21 years old. When you see Prudence, you will notice there is something different about her. Prudence is disabled. She does not have legs. Her arms are bent in a strange position. Her spine, or back, is bent forward permanently. She can only move her head, and one arm. Prudence moves around with the use of an electric wheelchair.

Voice 1

Prudence was born with a condition called arthrogryposis. This condition affects a person's joints - like their knees or shoulders. People born with the condition often have poorly formed arms or legs. They may not be able to walk or move in a normal way. People are born with the condition. And it is permanent.

Voice 2

When Prudence was born, her father's mother wanted to kill her. In many parts of the world, children with disabilities are unwanted. This is often true in Zimbabwe. Sometimes people believe children are born with disabilities because of witchcraft. They believe there is a curse, or promise for injury, on their family. So, the family may kill a disabled child at birth to remove the curse. Prudence was not killed. But her family banned her from her father's home.

Voice 1

Prudence's mother took Prudence and cared for her. She brought Prudence to her own mother's home. But four years later, Prudence's mother left her too. Prudence's grandmother, Rachel, was a working farmer. Rachel carried Prudence on her back as she worked. Rachel sang while she worked, and taught Prudence how to sing too. But when Prudence turned seven years old, Rachel knew she could not provide an education for Prudence. She sent Prudence to live with her father and his new wife, Prudence's stepmother.

Voice 2

Prudence's life with her father and stepmother was terrible. Her stepmother refused to touch her. She called Prudence horrible names, and told her she was worthless and helpless. In her father's house, Prudence had to pull her body along the floor wherever she wanted to go. No one helped to care for her or clean her. For two years Prudence lived in these terrible conditions. She even attempted to kill herself two times. But Prudence still had hope. She would pull herself behind the house. She would sit under a fruit tree and tell herself that her life would change.

Voice 1

And her life did change. When Prudence was nine years old, she was accepted to the King George VI School and Center for Children with Physical Disabilities, or KG6. Many people believe disabled children are unable to do anything for themselves. But KG6 aims to encourage the students in their independence. There, students cook, clean, wash their clothes and take care of their personal needs. And everyone works together to help each other.

Voice 2

KG6 believes that every child has a skill. It helps the students try to find what they are good at. Then it gives the student chances to grow and improve that skill. The school's main saying is "Never Give up!" Liyana began as a musical group in the school. And it has now become one of KG6's biggest success stories!

Voice 1

Prudence began a new life when she began attending KG6. She got a wheelchair. She began her education. And she also discovered her gift for singing. She joined the school's singing choir. And soon, she was leading the choir!

Voice 2

In 2003, Prudence joined with seven other KG6 students. Together they formed the group Liyana. In the Ndebele language Liyana means "it is raining." It is a word for good luck. All eight members of Liyana are under 21 years old. And they are all disabled. Five use wheelchairs. Two use long crutches to help them walk. And one of the members is deaf - he cannot fully hear.

Voice 1

Liyana uses different musical styles. They mix together Gospel music, Reggae music, and traditional Shone music. They call their style of music Afro-fusion. They have taught themselves how to play their instruments. And they write most of their own songs. They sing in the Shone and Ndebele languages. But they also sing in English, Dutch, German, Hebrew and Spanish!

Voice 2

Together, Liyana is like a family for Prudence. And together, they have become an inspiration and example for people all around the world. There is even a short film about Prudence's story and Liyana's music. Many people love their music. People watching the group do not care about the performer's disabilities. They just know that they make wonderful music!

Voice 1

One of Liyana's most popular songs is called iThemba. This means "hope" in the Ndebele language. Prudence told reporter Kevin Fagan of the San Francisco Chronicle Newspaper:

Voice 3

"The words of iThemba speak of how in my country you find people celebrating when a child is born right. But when a child is disabled the family is in mourning and wants nothing to do with it. My own experience was difficult. I will let my songs tell the rest."

Voice 2

Prudence had a difficult life from the very beginning. But she has found what truly makes her beautiful. She explains.

Voice 3

"My hands are bent. They are not straight. And my legs were also the same. My legs were removed when I was eleven years old. And apart from that, I am beautiful. I am. And, so they say, I have a great smile. I do not really know where my voice comes from. It is a gift God gave me. I guess my voice sounds good to people. Maybe it is because I also use it wisely."

Voice 2

The writer and producer of this program was Liz Waid. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. Computer users can hear our programs on our website at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called "Prudence Sings"

Voice 1

You can also find a link to more information about the short film "Music By Prudence" on the script page for this program. If you have a comment or question about this program, you can email us. Our email address is radio@radioenglish.net. Goodbye!

(Get our app for Android or for Apple devices. Let us know how you like it and write a review!)

Question:

Have you ever had to overcome a difficulty to become successful? What was it? How did you overcome it?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
patrick
said on July 07, 2010

Hello once again,  this real story is a bit of sad, painfull and amazing because it shows there is no limitis neither your soul nor your brain are disposabled.
Many people have achieved their dreams only thinking they can do it, and this girl” Prudence” has had a great heart and wise: congratulationsĀ” 
donĀ“t forget for winning in life we only need a great heart and a great brain thanks.

Avatar Spotlight
Marisol
said on July 07, 2010

Hi
This story for sure will inspire to the readers, sometimes you think that in order to succeed you need many resources and in fact you only need the desire to do things in a different way, take adavantage of the opportunities and keep the hope.  This is a real example that you can make things change.

Very nice story!

Avatar Spotlight
layeak
said on July 19, 2011

great post

Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on July 21, 2011

There are very difficult living conditions in the life. If we lived in such conditions we’re not sure we could overcome. We have our present conditions. And I think we need to try to live our conditions well and know about difficulties of the life and everyone. There are really difficulties and sufferings in the life.

Avatar Spotlight
Huongdo1979
said on June 17, 2015

To be successful, There’re a lot of difficulties in front of us. But, if we have belief and perseverance, God will give us hope and wonderful gift. Try to beat eyesores and always smile, we will achieve what we expect.

Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on July 03, 2019

Prudence’s story makes me cry. In front of her difficulties, I had had a wonderful life and every time I feel hopeless I was being weak and deserving mocking.