Artists compose songs that convey health information, increase understanding and bring a sense of calm

As part of a broader COVID-19 community communication effort financed by Norway, h2n has been working with Mozambican artists over the last six weeks to produce music in Portuguese and local languages on pandemic themes, such as wearing masks, keeping distance, protecting the elderly and being stronger together. The songs are all original, recorded in studio and accompanied by music videos and TV documentaries. “We added the last theme when we noticed that many people are feeling a deep sense of fear and anxiety about the current situation,” says Isabel Jorge, who manages the project. “We are not only trying to convey health messages, we also want to touch the soul and bring a sense of calm.” In a studio recording session on Monday, artist Yolanda Chicane and her band recorded five songs she composed for the project. Yolanda is singing in Portuguese, while other artists are writing songs in Changana, Sena, Macua and Maconde. “Music helps people understand with both their brain and their heart,” explains Yolanda. She says there is a strong tradition in Mozambique for passing on history, knowledge and wisdom through songs, often from generation to generation, and the pandemic songs are a natural extension of that tradition. “The songs are played on the country’s community radio stations and reach places where other information often is not readily available,” says Sergio Chusane, Executive Director of h2n. “While we see music as a way of sharing public health information, the songs also help people understand and remember what they hear,” says Chusane. Other components of the community communication effort include public service announcements, daily podcasts, videos, social media and targeted, high-impact initiatives at the community level. h2n, which is primarily supported by Norway, works extensively with community radios, produces community videos, broadcasts the “Saude e Vida” television program on health and wellness, facilitates youth engagement hubs and pursues a rapidly expanding gender equality agenda.