In Mozambique, Singing a Song of Sanitation and Hoping to Change Habits

FELICIANO DOS SANTOS is one of southern Africa’s leading musicians, and while he sings beautifully about the usual things – love and longing and sorrow – he is better known in the highland villages near here for catchy lyrics of a more peculiar sort, songs about going to the bathroom and washing your hands when you are done.

In one fetching tune, sung in the tribal language of Nyanja, he exhorts people to boil water “so we can prevent diarrheal diseases.” In another, this one a pulsating rumba, he declares that “sanitation can change your life.”

Feliciano dos Santos/PBS

Feliciano dos Santos/PBS

[…] Though his band, Massukos, has toured in Europe and appeared before crowds in the thousands, he spends most of his time running a small charity called Estamos (“We are”) in his native Niassa, an isolated backwater near the Tanzanian border and among the poorest of Mozambique’s 11 provinces. The organization’s main goals are clean water and safe sanitation. […] Estamos has more than 30 employees and an annual budget of nearly $1 million.

[…] In April [2008], Mr. dos Santos was one of seven grass-roots activists to win a $150,000 Goldman Environmental Prize, awards given annually in San Francisco. He already has spent some of the cash on latrines.

See also : PBS web page “Mozambique: Guitar Hero” page which includes a music and a documentary video on Feliciano dos Santos

Source: Barry Bearak, New York Times, 24 Oct 2008

See below a Hesperian Foudation video featuring Feliciano dos Santos

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