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Oscar nomination for ‘Music by Prudence’ about disabled Zimbabwean singer Prudence Mabhena

March 5, 2010
“Music by Prudence” director Roger Ross Williams and the star, Prudence Mabhena, learned to trust and understand each other as they made the film. – Photo: Osato Dixon
“Music by Prudence,” a film by Roger Ross Williams, has been nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Documentary: Short Subject. Produced by iThemba Productions and Elinor Burkett, the 33-minute documentary stars Prudence Mabhena, a talented young woman from Zimbabwe suffering from arthrogryphosis, a rare disorder that severely deforms the joints of the body. Despite overwhelming odds, Prudence, who sings in five languages, is sharing her astounding talent with the world.

Africans with disabilities

In Zimbabwe, disabled babies are commonly believed to be the result of witchcraft. In extreme cases, families kill them – to remove the “curse” from their family.

Born in the idyllic town of Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Prudence Mabhena had a different fate. Her parents, a handsome tour guide and the village beauty, had been picture-perfect newlyweds. When Prudence was born, it was clear something wasn’t right. Her arms and legs were severely twisted, stunted and useless.

Prudence’s paternal grandmother directed her daughter-in-law to refrain from breastfeeding, i.e., kill the baby. Prudence’s mother disobeyed and was ostracized and cast out. She brought Prudence to her mother’s rural home and, when Prudence turned 4, left her to her grandmother’s care.

In Zimbabwe, treatment of the disabled sinks beneath discrimination. Not only is there a void of protective legislation – no Africans with Disabilities Act – and disabled-friendly infrastructure, such as elevators and ramps, disabled people are given a wide berth and treated as if contagious. If permitted to live, the disabled are often left to die.

In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, there is a place that transcends this: King George VI School and Centre for Children with Physical Disabilities (KG6). Privately funded, KG6 struggles on the brink of destitution. Yet, hundreds of children blossom under the care of director Inez Hussey. Prudence lives there now, and she teaches. But first, she had to pass through hell.

A working farmer, Prudence’s grandmother couldn’t school the little girl. So she went to KG6. But soon, Prudence’s father lost his ability to pay the tuition. Prudence is forced to move in with her father. By now, her legs – useless and twisted – have been amputated.

Prudence’s father is remarried with kids. He and his new wife – Prudence’s stepmother* – refuse to care for her, even to touch her. For two years, Prudence lives like an animal. Without someone to take her to the bathroom, she sits in her own urine and feces. Without a wheelchair, she can only crawl, and she eats from the floor – when fed. Every day, Prudence drags herself to the mango tree in the backyard, sings and tells herself that her nightmare will end soon.

Finally, Prudence is awarded a scholarship to KG6.

A new life … and Liyana

At age 9, Prudence arrives at KG6 dehumanized and untrusting. She receives a wheelchair donated by a charitable Swede. She cleans up, goes to school and becomes “human” again. Happy, she begins singing in earnest.

Prudence’s voice is so resonant and beautiful that the school administrators suggest she try out for the school choir. Within a week, she’s not only a member of the choir, she’s leading it. She has bloomed at the school and she’s thriving. She also joins Inkonjane, an a capella group. Through the group she has the opportunity to sing in Switzerland.

Back in Zimbabwe, Prudence and some fellow students and musicians start an Afro-fusion band called Liyana (“it’s raining” in Ndebele). All eight of its members are disabled. Marvelous Mbulo has muscular dystrophy. Farai Mabhande shares Prudence’s disorder and plays the keyboard with twisted fingers. Prudence, the band’s only woman, cannot hold a microphone, so it’s mounted to a metal stand that reaches under her chin. With just a head, torso, and tiny arms, Prudence weighs no more than 50 lbs. But the sound that pours out of her is rich enough to fill a stadium, and it is haunting.

All eight members of Prudence’s band Liyana are disabled. – Photo: Errol Webber
In 2006, the struggling school scrapes together the money to send Liyana to compete in Music Crossroads, an all-Africa competition being held in Mozambique. The journey to Mozambique is long and arduous. They get there just in time to compete and come in second. The prize? A tour of Sweden. The band performs and gains a name.

Arrest, prison, blackouts and hunger

From the outset, this was a special film. The film would never have come to fruition without unusual courage on the part of the crew. Director Roger Ross Williams and his crew shot “Music by Prudence” over the course of several months and several trips to Zimbabwe. In doing so, they risked arrest, imprisonment, torture, deportation and potentially worse.

Journalism is officially illegal in Zimbabwe. But as evidenced by the 2008 imprisonment of New York Times journalist Barry Bearak, factual journalism can land its proponents in prison.

The principal portion of the shoot for “Music by Prudence” took place against this violent, anti-journalistic backdrop. President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s longtime dictator, had not received a majority vote in the country’s 2008 presidential election. In the lead-up to the runoff, the leading party unleashed horrifying violence against opposition supporters, and they pulled out. The “Music by Prudence” crew was subject to intense scrutiny.

“Every night, we didn’t know whether we’d be raided and jailed or deported. [The authorities] knew who we were. Zimbabwe’s central intelligence agency was keeping tabs on us. They’d go to my stringer’s house and say, ‘Make sure they don’t shoot anything having to do with the election,’” said Williams.

On top of the stealth, Bulawayo, like the rest of the country, suffered from drastic shortages. Water stoppages and electrical blackouts are common, day-to-day worries. Even food is in short supply: With none in the supermarkets, one has to buy it on the black market. Inflation is so high that during the course of the shoot, Zimbabwe currency became worthless.

During most of the shoot, the crew lived in a wealthy low-density suburban community. But even that community was not immune to lack of water and power and rampant theft. There’d been a wave of armed robberies, which put everyone on edge.

Narrated by Prudence

“Music by Prudence” is about a resilient young woman. Cleverly, the story is also told by her – in a gentle and matter-of-fact tone. A compelling character, the 21-year-old (then 19-20) has a lovely face and a surprisingly playful manner and speaks in a soft voice with a British lilt. She is charismatic, engaging, strong and confident and the camera loves her. Gone is the shell of a girl that arrived at KG6.

Prudence now teaches music at the school. She collects a salary, room and board – which makes her one of Zimbabwe’s rare employed citizens. Surprisingly, she also choreographs dances from her wheelchair and teaches dance to the deaf.

Typically, people with her disability do not live long. But so far, Prudence has been healthy and hopes for a thriving career. Prudence finds strength in her adopted family: the members of her band. Having been similarly rejected by their families and their culture, they all share a similar trauma.

Eventually, Williams plans to release a director’s cut containing extra footage. He’s optimistic that the Oscar nomination for “Music by Prudence” will raise awareness for KG6 and increase donations. Tax-deductible donations can be made through MusicbyPrudence.com.

*In a great irony, Prudence’s stepmother suffered a stroke and is now paralyzed. She uses Prudence’s former wheelchair.

Synopsis of ‘Music by Prudence’

Sunrise over the bush. A fresh morning star spilling vitality over scrambling, dry rocks.

The African plain: supple and green. Clouds – celestial rapids – racing over an otherwise halcyon sky.

The members of Prudence’s band Liyana are like family. Rejected by their birth families because of their disabilities, “Together they find strength,” notes film director-producer Roger Ross Williams. – Photo: Errol Webber
Against these, the voice of a woman: clear and strong. “Liyana,” she sings. “Yes,” they respond. “Where are you?” she calls. “We are here,” they answer. “Come,” she beckons. “We are coming.”

Her voice is stirring, but also still, in contrast to the rushing sky. It’s the voice of a leader, someone in a place of power and wisdom and uncommon peace. Then into the picture rolls its owner: a young African woman in a wheelchair. Her arms are twisted and useless. Without legs, she has never walked. The source of this commanding, compelling music is a head and a torso, and not much more.

Meet Prudence Mabhena, 21, the hero of our tale.

Prudence lives in Zimbabwe, and for a long time almost no one knew about that hauntingly beautiful voice. No one knew the strong, resilient woman who owned it. They were unable to overlook her body: crippled and deformed with a debilitating condition called arthrogryphosis.

When Prudence was born, her paternal grandmother wanted her dead. In Zimbabwe, disabled children are believed to be the result of witchcraft. In extreme cases, families kill them – to remove the “curse” from their family.

Prudence’s mother kept her and fed her. Cast out of her husband’s (Prudence’s father’s) home, she brought the baby to her own mother’s rural home. Four years later, she left.

“Music by Prudence” traces the path of this little girl, and her remarkable transcendence from a world of hatred and superstition into one of music, love and possibility.

The child was raised by Rachel Ncube, her maternal grandmother. Grandmother Ncube taught her to sing. A working farmer, she would strap the little girl to her back as she worked the fields. But when Prudence turned 7, she knew she couldn’t school her. So she sent her to live with her father and his new family.

There, Prudence fell prey to neglect and isolation. Her stepmother refused to touch her and called her a worthless, helpless “ant.” She was despondent enough to attempt suicide – twice.

There is a haven away from this pain: King George VI School and Centre for Children with Physical Disabilities (KG6). Privately funded, KG6 struggles on the brink of destitution. Yet every year, hundreds of disabled children blossom and thrive.

Prudence gets a scholarship to KG6, and her new life begins.

Bulawayo provides the film’s colorful backdrop. Like the rest of the country, Zimbabwe’s second largest city is largely dysfunctional. Water stoppages and electrical blackouts are daily events. The supermarkets have no food, so residents are forced to use the black market for necessities. Inflation and crime run rampant.

Prudence Mabhena – Photo: Errol Webber
The movie’s final scene is a concert by Liyana. The crowd applauds and whistles, then the screen darkens, leaving only Prudence’s lustrous, smiling face. Recalling the opening sequence, her face is in perfect symmetry to the African sky, rushing and streaming towards hope.

Roger Ross Williams, director-producer

Roger Ross Williams is a member of a Gullah family from South Carolina. He is a working television news, documentary and entertainment producer, director and writer who has lived and worked in New York City for the past 25 years. As a television news and documentary director and producer he has worked for ABC News, NBC News, MSNBC, BBC, CNN and PBS.

Williams has produced entertainment shows for ABC, CBS, Comedy Central, Food Network, Sundance Channel, TLC, VH1 and Michael Moore’s Emmy Award winning series TV Nation. He has directed prime-time reality shows for ABC and CBS and produced a documentary series for Discovery Networks and a lifestyle series for Scripts Networks. He has won numerous awards including a NAMIC Vision Award for his television special “Moroccan Style” and the National Headliner for Best Human Interest Feature for his documentary “New York Underground.”

Of “Music by Prudence,” he says: “You quickly forget [Prudence is] disabled because she’s such an amazing, dynamic person. … charismatic and brilliant and engaging. …

“Because I’m African-American, … it gave me an intimacy with the subjects … and there’s a certain connection that gets made. … There’s [still] a divide because I’m African-American and they’re African. …

“My everyday cinematographer [Errol Webber] was a young Jamaican kid who had just graduated from film school. It was important that I have an African-American cameraman who was young. [The band members] saw him as their peer. Most of the time, it was just me and Erroll.

“Africa’s a beautiful place. Africans are such beautiful people and so close to the earth. Where Prudence comes from — near Victoria Falls — is breathtaking.

“I spent a lot of time [at Prudence’s grandmother’s rural home], sleeping in a hut. There’s no water. There’s no electricity. I had literally gone back to my roots. I loved every minute of being there — sitting by the fire, singing songs. It was a spiritually enlightening experience. It was easy to capture that.

Roger Ross Williams – Photo: Marc Yankus
“My ancestors were slaves imported from the western lowland coast of Africa to the lowlands of the Carolinas. They were rice cultivators, which is why they were imported to America: to cultivate rice before cotton took over. Malaria hit, but they were immune, and survived to settle.

“I had to gain [Prudence’s] trust. Because of what Prudence has been through, it takes time for her to trust people.

“I talked to her, treated her with respect as a person and an artist. I was honest with her about the filmmaking process. I explained that she would need to open up.

“[She talked about her suicide attempts] during our first interview. She’d never told anyone before. She cried and I cried.

“The process of being interviewed: you become self-reflective; it’s like being in therapy. She couldn’t wait to tell her story. Nobody had ever heard her story before — or asked.

“Afterwards, I went to the place where I was staying. I cried and cried and cried. I was just devastated. I was so moved by her strength — her ability to get beyond the moment when she was at her lowest. I was determined to get her story out there and tell it to the world.

“She finds strength in the members of her band, such as her friend Marvelous. They’re all in it together. They’re a family. They understand each other; they’ve all been through the same trauma. They’ve all been rejected by their families and their cultures. They’ve persevered. Together they find strength.

“Prudence has this unique ability to laugh and still find joy around her. She’s this positive and joyful person. She has this inner strength and an innate, inner light. She’s funny and edgy, and she makes fun of herself. …

“She wants to have a career in music. She wants to leave Zimbabwe and come to America and have a career as a working musician. That’s her dream. I think things like an Academy Award nomination — a win — would help her realize her dream. She’s such a talent and the world needs to see. She can have a career. There’s a circuit of world musicians that perform. She could be part of that community. It could change her life.

“I shot hundreds and hundreds of hours of footage. So much it was ridiculous. A lot of it is concert footage shot on multiple cameras.

“There’s a wealth of material that I plan to release in the director’s cut. There were a lot of scenes that we had to edit out because of the constraints of making a short. Buy the DVD, people!” Look for it in fall 2010 or later, at www.musicbyprudence.com.

After the film was finished, Prudence told Roger, “I want you to win an Oscar!” When they were nominated, he called Prudence, who was shocked and overwhelmed. “It’s unimaginable,” he said, “that a girl left in a hut to die is now celebrated in the world for her talent. I hope everyone gets to see this movie and to see her and know her the way that I do.”

To learn more about the film and the filmmakers, visit www.musicbyprudence.com. And give the filmmakers your feedback by emailing rrw@ithembaproductions.com.

13 thoughts on “Oscar nomination for ‘Music by Prudence’ about disabled Zimbabwean singer Prudence Mabhena

  1. Zimbabwean Tired of Those Who Exaggerate

    This story has so much exaggeration on the treatment of the disabled in Zimbabwe. Paul Matavire one of the best singers in Zimbabwe had many fans, who recognized his talent and not his disability. Having a disabled aunt (with one leg and artificial leg) who worked at Jairos Jiri Center for the Disabled for several decades as a nurse for the disabled and herself had been rehabilitated there during her childhood years, I find the story one-sided on disability in Zimbabwe. Certainly the hardships that are being experienced by 80% of able-bodied persons who are unemployed is hardly felt by families of the disabled and the the disabled themselves. Prudence has a positive reflection on life and a vocal gift that not even myself as an able-bodied Zimbabwean does not have. However, the coverage of the story is unfair as it ignores the strides made by Jairos Jiri and other Zimbabweans for those born with a disability, disabled due to polio or the 1970s liberation war.

    How many countries allow no custom duties on braille materials? Zimbabwe does not charge custom duties if anyone brings braille materials.

    The story reads, “In Zimbabwe, treatment of the disabled sinks beneath discrimination. Not only is there a void of protective legislation – no Africans with Disabilities Act – and disabled-friendly infrastructure, such as elevators and ramps, disabled people are given a wide berth and treated as if contagious. If permitted to live, the disabled are often left to die.”

    This does not recognize the efforts made in Zimbabwe following the “DISABLED PERSONS ACT, 1992″ stated below:

    To make provision for the welfare and rehabilitation of disabled persons; to provide for the appointment and functions of a Director for Disabled Persons’ Affairs and the establishment and functions of a National Disability Board; and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing.

    ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

    1. Short title.

    2. Interpretation.

    3. Director for Disabled Persons’ Affairs.

    4. National Disability Board.

    5. Functions of Board.

    6. Reports of Board.

    7. Adjustment orders by Board.

    8. Prohibition of denial to disabled persons of access to public premises, services and amenities.

    9. Prohibition of discrimination against disabled persons in employment.

    10. Offences and penalty.

    11. Regulations.

    ENACTED by the President and the Parliament of Zimbabwe.

    1. This Act may be cited as the Disabled Persons Act, 1992.

    2. In this Act-

    “Board” means the National Disability Board established in terms of section four,

    “Director” means the Director for Disabled Persons’ Affairs referred to in section three;

    “disabled person” means a person with a physical, mental or sensory disability, including a visual, hearing or speech functional disability, which gives rise to physical, cultural or social barriers inhibiting him from participating at an equal level with other members of society in activities, undertakings or fields of employment that are open to other members of society,

    “Minister” means the Minister of Labour, Manpower Planning and Social Welfare or any other Minister to whom the President may from time to time assign the administration of this Act.

    3. (1) There shall e a Director for Disabled Persons’ Affairs whose office shall be a public office and part of the Public Service.

    (2) The functions of the Director shall be

    (a) to formulate proposals for measures referred to in paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section five for submission to the Board:

    (b) through liaison with the Ministries and local and other authorities involved, to secure the implementation of measures which have been recommended by the Board in terms of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section five and approved by the Minister;

    (c) to co-ordinate the activities of institutions, associations and organisations concerned with the welfare and rehabilitation of disabled persons;

    (d) to do such other things as may be prescribed by or in terms of this Act.

    (2) In the performance of his functions, the Director shall comply with any general directions or instructions that the Minister or the Board may give him.

    4. (1) There is hereby established a board to be known as the National Disability Board which shall consist of

    (a) the Director, ex officio; and

    (b) ten members appointed by the Minister from a panel of names submitted to him by organisations or associations which he considers represent disabled persons., and

    (c) one member appointed by the Minister in consultation with the Minister responsible for local government; and

    (d) one member appointed by the Minister in consultation with the Minister responsible for health: and

    (e) one member appointed by the Minister in consultation with the Minister responsible for education: and

    (f) one member appointed by the Minister from a list of not fewer than three persons submitted by an association or organisation which the Minister, in consultation with the Minister responsible for the administration of the Labour Relations Act, 1985 (No. 16 of 1985), considers represents employers in Zimbabwe; and

    (g) one member appointed by the Minister from a list of not fewer than three persons submitted by an association or organisation which the Minister, in consultation with the Minister responsible for the administration of the Labour Relations Act, 1985 (No. 16 of 1985), considers represents trade unions in Zimbabwe.. and

    (h) one member appointed by the Minister from among the persons employed in his Ministry; and

    (i) a member or members co-opted by the Board after consultation with the Minister:

    Provided that the membership of the Board shall not exceed twenty.

    (2) If any organisation or association referred to in paragraph (b), (f) or (g) of subsection (1) fails to submit a list of persons within a reasonable time after being called upon by the Minister to do so, the Minister may appoint as members in terms of the paragraph concerned any person whom he considers will adequately represent the interests of the organisation or association which failed to submit the list.

    (3) The Minister shall appoint as chairman and deputy chairman of the Board two of the members referred to in paragraph (b) of subsection (1), and the deputy chairman shall exercise the functions of chairman during any period the chairman is unable to do so.

    (4) Members of the Board shall hold office for such period not exceeding five years and on such terms and conditions, whether in relation to remuneration or otherwise, as may be prescribed or as the Minister may fix for members generally:

    Provided that a member in the full-time employment of the State, a statutory body or a local authority shall not be entitled to any remuneration in respect of his membership of the Board.

    (5) Subject to subsection (6), the Board shall

    (a) hold its meetings at such times and places and in accordance with such procedure; and

    (b) keep and furnish to the Minister such records of its meetings;

    as may be prescribed or as may be directed by the Minister.

    (6) At any meeting of the Board a majority of its members shall constitute a quorum.

    (7) The Minister may assign persons employed in his Ministry to perform such secretarial and administrative functions in connection with the Board as may be necessary for the performance of its functions.

    5. (1) The functions of the Board shall be-

    to issue adjustment orders in terms of section seven and
    (b) to formulate and develop measures and policies designed

    (i) to achieve equal opportunities for disabled persons by ensuring, so far as possible, that they obtain education and employment, participate fully in sporting, recreation and cultural activities and are afforded full access to community and social services.,

    (ii) to enable disabled persons, so far as possible to lead independent lives;

    (iii) to give effect to any international treaty or agreement relating to the welfare or rehabilitation of disabled persons to which Zimbabwe is a party.,

    (iv) to prevent discrimination against disabled persons resulting from or arising out of their disability.

    (v) to encourage and put into operation schemes and projects for the employment of or generation of income by disabled persons who are unable to secure employment elsewhere;

    (vi) to encourage and secure the rehabilitation of disabled persons within their own communities and social environment:

    (vii) to encourage and secure the establishment of vocational rehabilitation centres. Social employment centres and other institutions and services for the welfare and rehabilitation of disabled persons,

    (vii) to co-ordinate services provided in Zimbabwe for the welfare and rehabilitation of disabled persons; (ix) to register-

    A. disabled persons; and

    B. Institutions, associations and organisations, including those controlled and managed by the State and local authorities. that provide services for the rehabilitation of disabled persons; and

    C. places at which services for the rehabilitation of disabled persons are provided.

    (X) to provide, so far as possible, orthopaedic appliances and other equipment to disabled persons,

    (xi) to provide, so far as possible, all institutions. associations and organisations concerned with the welfare and rehabilitation of disabled persons, including institutions. associations and organisations controlled and managed by the State and local authorities, with access to available information and technical assistance:

    (xii) to provide, so far as possible, skilled staff for the successful implementation of measures for the welfare and rehabilitation of disabled persons:

    (xiii) generally. to improve the social and economic status and condition of disabled persons and to advance their interests;

    (c) to estimate. and report to the Minister on, the likely cost of proposed measures for the welfare and rehabilitation of disabled persons and to advise the Minister on the relative priorities to be given to the implementation of those measures; and

    (d) to keep measures for the welfare and rehabilitation of disabled persons under constant review and to re-assess and evaluate those measures in the light of experience; and

    (e) to perform such other functions in relation to the welfare and rehabilitation of disabled persons as may be prescribed.

    (2) Subject to subsection (3), the Board shall have power to do all things that are necessary or convenient co be done for or in connection with the performance of its functions and, in particular-

    may conduct inquiries, including public inquiries, into any matter reintegrating to the welfare and rehabilitation of disabled persons;
    may appoint committees consisting of such persons. whether or not they are members of the Board, and on such terms and conditions, as the Board may determine;
    (c) may vest in or impose on any committee appointed in terms of paragraph (b) such of the functions of the Board as the Board, with the approval of the Minister. may determine;

    (d) may, on behalf of the State, engage or make other arrangements with any other person to carry out research for, or supply information or make submissions to, the Board on any matter relating to the welfare and rehabilitation of disabled persons.

    (3) The Board shall not incur any expenditure on behalf of the State except with the approval of the Minister given with the concurrence of the Minister responsible for finance.

    6. (1) The Board-

    (a) shall submit to the Minister such reports as the Minister may require., and

    (b) may submit to the Minister such other reports as the Board considers advisable;

    in regard to any matter relating to the welfare and rehabilitation of disabled persons.

    (2) The Minister may lay a report submitted to him by the Board in terms of subsection (1) before Parliament.

    7. (1) This section shall apply to any-

    (a) premises to which members of the public are ordinarily admitted, whether on payment of a fee or otherwise., and

    (b) services or amenities ordinarily provided to members of the public:

    including premises owned or services or amenities provided by any statutory corporation or local authority.

    (2) Where the Board considers that any premises, services or amenities referred to in subsection (1) are inaccessible to disabled persons by reason of any structural, physical, administrative or other impediment to such access, the Board may, subject to this section, serve upon tile owner of the premises or the provider of the service or amenity concerned an adjustment order

    (a) setting out

    (i) a full description of the premises service or amenity concerned; and

    (ii) the grounds upon which the Board considers that the premises. service or amenity is inaccessible to disabled persons; and

    (b) requiring the owner or provider concerned to undertake at his own expense such action as may be specified in order to secure reasonable access by disabled persons to the premises, service or amenity concerned; and

    (c) stipulating the period within which the action referred to in paragraph (b) shall be commenced and completed.

    (3) Before serving an order in terms of subsection (2) the Board shall serve notice upon the person concerned

    (a) specifying the grounds upon which the adjustment order is to be issued and the nature of the action which the Board considers necessary to rectify the situation which has given rise to the proposed order: and

    (b) stipulating the maximum period that the Board reasonable for the implementation of the action it proposes to order; and

    (c) calling upon the person concerned, if he wishes to make representations, to make them to the Board within thirty days from the date of the service of the notice.

    (4) After considering any representations made in terms of subsection (3), the Board may issue, or refrain from or defer issuing, an adjustment order.

    (5) A person upon whom an adjustment order is served in terms of subsection (2) may, within thirty days of the service of the adjustment order, appeal to the Administrative Court against such order on the ground that

    (a) the person concerned cannot reasonably be expected to bear the whole or any part of the expense required in implementing the adjustment order; or

    (b) the period stipulated for implementing the adjustment order is unreasonable; or

    (c) the nature of the action required to be taken in terms of the adjustment order is, in the circumstances of the case. unreasonable: or

    (d) adequate access to the premises, service or amenity concerned may be secured without recourse to the action required by the adjustment order,

    or on any other ground.

    (6) Upon hearing an appeal—terms of subsection (5) the Administrative Court may

    (a) confirm, vary or set aside the adjustment order appealed against., and

    (b) make such order as to the costs of the appeal as it thinks fit.

    (7) The Board shall not serve an adjustment order in terms of subsection (2) upon

    (a) any hospital, nursing home or clinic controlled or managed by the State or registered in terms of the Medical, Dental and Allied Professions Act [Chapter 224] or the Psychological Practices Act [Chapter 2251, except with the consent of the Minister responsible for health;

    (b) any school or educational or training institution controlled or managed by the State or registered in terms of the Education Act, 1987 (No. 5 of 1987), or the Manpower Planning and Development Act, 1984 (No. 36 of 1984), except with the consent of the Minister responsible for the administration of the institution or Act concerned.

    8. (1) No disabled person shall. on the ground of his disability alone, be denied-

    (a) admission into any premises to which members of the public are ordinarily admitted; or ?

    (b) the provision of any service or amenity ordinarily provided to members of the public.

    unless such denial is motivated by a genuine concern for the safety of the disabled person concerned.

    (2) The proprietor of a premises referred to in paragraph (a) of subsection (1) shall not have the right on the ground of a person's disability alone to reserve right of admission to his premises against such a person.

    (3) A disabled person who is denied admission into any premises or the provision of any service or amenity in terms of subsection (1) shall be deemed to have suffered an injury and shall have the right to recover damages in any court of competent jurisdiction.

    9. (1) Subject to subsection (2), no employer shall discriminate against any disabled person in relation to-?

    the advertisement of employment, or
    (b) the recruitment for employment; or

    (c) the creation, classification or abolition of jobs or posts; or

    (d) the determination or allocation of wages, salaries, pensions, accommodation. leave or other such benefits, or

    (e) the choice of persons for jobs or posts, training, advancement. apprenticeships, transfer, promotion or, retrenchment; or

    (f) the provision of facilities related to or connected with employment. or

    (g) any other matter related to employment.

    (2) An employer shall not be deemed to have discriminated against a disabled person in terms of subsection (1) if-

    (a) the act or omission alleged to constitute the discrimination was not wholly or mainly attributable to the disability of the disabled person. or

    (b) the disability in question was a relevant consideration in relation to the particular requirements of the employment concerned; or

    (c) special facilities or modifications. whether physical or administrative or otherwise. are required at the work place to accommodate the disabled person which the employer cannot reasonably be expected to provide.

    (3) Subsection (4) of section 5 of the Labour Relations Act, 1985, shall apply to a disabled person discriminated against in relation to any matter specified in subsection (1).

    10.

    Any person who-
    fails to comply with an adjustment order served in terms of section seven; or
    (b) wilfully denies to a disabled person, on the ground of his disability alone

    (i) admission to any premises to which members of the public are ordinarily admitted; or

    (ii) the provision of any service or amenity ordinarily provided to members of the public;

    for any reason other than one motivated by a genuine concern for the safety of the disabled person concerned;

    or

    (c) discriminates against a disabled person in relation to the matters specified in subsection (1) of section nine: Provided that paragraph (a). (b) or (c) of subsection (2) of that section shall avail as a defence to a charge in terms of this section,

    shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding four thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

    11. (1) Subject to this Act and any other enactment, the Minister. after consultation with the Board, may make regulations providing for

    the co-ordination of services provided in Zimbabwe for the welfare or rehabilitation of disabled persons;
    (b) the registration of
    (i) disabled persons,

    (ii) institutions, associations and organisations, including those controlled and managed by the State and local authorities, that provide services for the rehabilitation of disabled persons;

    (iii) places at which services for the rehabilitation of disabled persons are provided;

    effect to be given to Zimbabwe's obligations under any international convention treaty or agreement concerning disabled persons;
    (d) any other matter which in terms of this Act is required or permitted to be prescribed.

    (2) The Minister shall not make regulations in terms of subsection (1) providing for the registration of

    any hospital, nursing home or clinic controlled or managed by the State or registered in terms of the Medical, Dental and Allied Professions Act [Chapter 224] or the Psychological Practices Act [Chapter 2251, except with the consent of the Minister responsible for health;
    (b) any school or educational or training institution controlled or managed by the State or registered in terms of the Education Act, 1987 (No. 5 of 1987), or the Manpower Planning and Development Act, 1984 (No. 36 of 1984), except with the consent of the Minister responsible for the administration of the institution or Act concerned.

    Reply
  2. Tombi

    A few Zimbabwean bad apples like Prudence family do not reflect many in the country who love their children whether born disabled, disabled by poor conditions, disease or torture.

    Reply
  3. mary Post author

    Thank you both for commenting and for the important information you’ve provided. This story comes from the filmmaker’s press packet. I sincerely apologize if it is inaccurate or in any way disrespectful.

    I’ve just added (at the end of the story) the filmmakers’ website, http://www.musicbyprudence.com, and an email address I found there, rrw@ithembaproductions.com, and strongly urge you to share your thoughts with them as well.

    Maybe if they win, they’ll mention your comments when they get their Oscar!

    Mary Ratcliff, editor
    SF Bay View

    Reply
  4. Matipa

    I have to say as a Zimbabwean I am also rather surprised at the image that this film portrays about the treatment of disabled people. I know for a afct that this is one country that has done so much inspite of past and current limitations, to help those with disabilities. There have been for the past 2 or 3 decades so many disabled people I know who have been provided the help and opportunity to be enabled, make use of their talents. Some well known examples are Jairos Jiri and Paul Mativire. In as much as I am pleased that this documentary has won an Oscar I also wish that the fuller and truer picture could have been painted in the making of this documentary. Let this win not undermine so much that has been done by so many for so many.

    Reply
  5. Glen Poole

    ……..Prudence is extraordinary disabled African woman helping the continent’s 50 million disabled children get a better start in life is Anne Wafula Strike, the first East African to compete in the Paralympics. You can read a little of her story here and find out about the work she is doing with the UK charity AbleChildAfrica here: https://www.bmycharity.com/V2/extraordinary

    Reply
  6. Patricia Wright

    Oh please!!!This is not an exaggeration at all, Zimbabwe and old mugabe just turn out papers like this to try and fool the rest of the world. With their record of human rights abuses, a sham of an election, the killing of white farmers you expect us all to believe that you kill people who oppose his regime but respect the disabled. What world do you all live in? Oh I forgot ZIMBABWE.

    I lived there too, spent nearly half my life there, I am disabled, my family still lives there, this country is a cess pool of hate and predjudice.If you face discrimination everyday, have your heart and soul broken down by ignorant people, are not rich enough to buy help or poor enough to get goverment help, you are stuck.

    This film sticks up for the rest of us folk who faced discrimination and hate everyday of our lives. I do not sing but I can type. So for “I am going to show you all my fancy papers” and “I am surprised how Zimbabwe is portrayed” because you say so does not make it so. You never lived it, experienced it, don`t act like you know because you don`t.

    Bravo to the film makers for your bravery in exposing this very real problem.

    Reply
  7. Pamelotta

    I do not personally know how people with disabilities (PWDs) are treated in Zimbabwe, but I have lots of experience with non-disabled people who think that PWDs are treated well in the U.S. We are not. Fortunately for us, we are usually not as badly off as Prudence was in her childhood. I will take the opinions of a disabled person over the opinions of a non-disabled person as truth, or the opinions of a person in poor conditions over those of one with education or money. It sounds as if things are really bad there. I appreciate learning about and hearing the singing of Prudence and her band.

    Reply
  8. Jay Abel

    I just watched the documentary on Prudence and my heart sang when I heard her voice. I have music talent myself and appreicate those that do possess it and Prudence's voice rings to the heavens. Is there any plans for a recording? Jay

    Reply
  9. Alonzo Marrow

    I'm watching this on HBO as I type this.. I am 1/3 into it.. I am so deeply moved, I have no words.. My feeling run from anger at her fathers wife, her father, her mother…but those feeling are pushed away , by the love that radiates from her soul..envelopes me.. and makes me whole.. if any of us could be as strong as she is..oh my what a wonderful world we would have..

    Thank you Prudence.. may God continue to embrace you and all of your friends "challanged?? the challenge is for us to live up to your standards…

    Reply

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