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The best kept secret in music


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2004 - An African Chord



Teaching people about HIV/AIDS can be challenging. Traditional methods such as lectures and presentations don't always capture interest of the people most at risk, especially children and teenagers. In 2004, Rev. Dr. Spiwo Xapile, director of the JL Zwane Community Centre in Guguletu, South Africa and Bongani Magatyana, an accomplished musician and composer, formed JL Zwane Siyaya to bring HIV/AIDS education to people through music, dance and theater.

JL Zwane Siyaya is a performance group made up of 14 musicians, primarily youth ages 18-25, from local townships surrounding Cape Town. In January 2004, Bongani held auditions and within a month the newly formed group was rehearsing daily at the JL Zwane Centre. Siyaya's music is a fusion of traditional African songs, opera, jazz, and pop. Nearly all of their songs are originals, with music, lyrics and choreography by Mr. Magatyana and the group. Through a highly entertaining collection of songs, scenes and dances, Siyaya's performances teach the ABC's of AIDS - Abstain, Be faithful, use Condoms. Their moving and surprisingly funny performances pierce through the powerful stigma of HIV/AIDS in South Africa, exposing the myths and risks of the disease. The groups members consider themselves cultural ambassadors and "warriors" for HIV education and prevention. They perform regularly at schools, churches, community centers, health clinics, public events, and have done tours in the United States (i.e. New York City, Baltimore, Maryland, Pensacola, Florida, Washington, DC, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Chicago, Illinois, Dallas, Texas, etc.).