“In the near distance, Cyclone Idai is destroying lives, faster than we are saving them. Please take a moment tonight to collect blankets, clothes, food, water and toiletries. Please give whatever you can, even if it’s just a jersey.”
This was the heartfelt plea local performing artist, Ammara Brown, put out this week in her effort to inspire Zimbabweans to stand together and help their fellow citizens affected by Cyclone Idai. Recognising her position to bring about positive change in society, Ammara is doing everything she can to help those who found themselves in the path of Idai, and asking others to do the same.
This is just one of the ways in which Ammara’s life has changed over the past 11 years since she first rose to fame at the age of 19 on the inaugural season of Idols Africa on DStv. Today she is a multi-award winning singer, instrumentalist, dancer, songwriter, producer, actress, brand ambassador and philanthropist. She has shared stages with artists such as Oliver Mtukudzi, Kirk Franklin, Hugh Masekela, HHP, P-Square and Lira, and participated in international showcases such as Sauti Za Busara, the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) and the multi-award nominated Colour Me Human musical, which was staged in South Africa.
Ammara acknowledges that it was her appearance on DStv that catapulted her into the limelight, effectively kick-starting her music career. “Idols was one of the most defining points in my professional career on several fronts. At the time I had a fear of cameras, but through the coaching I received on the show, I learned to manage this fear. Today I’m an award-winning actress! I also learned to ask for help, and renewed my faith in God. I think my favourite moment on Idols Africa was my Top 6 performance. The stress of the show had taken its toll on me and I eventually developed ulcers. I could barely eat or stand, but I asked God to hold me up for five minutes on stage while I performed Brenda Fassie’s Vulindlela. I was rewarded with a roaring, appreciative crowd, and amazing feedback from the judges. That is such a beautiful memory for me, and reflects so much of what I learned on the show,” she recalls.
Ammara’s experience provides tangible proof of MultiChoice’s Zimbabwe’s commitment to investing in the country’s creative industries through skills development. Shows like DStv’s Idols Africa aim to groom up-and-coming young stars, helping them to develop their inherent talents and successfully launch their creative careers, while the company’s sponsorship of the Zimbabwe International Film Festival (ZIFF), Shoko Festival and Ngoma Awards all provide platforms to engage and celebrate local talent.
As a multi-talented performing artist, Ammara says this is vitally important. “Zimbabweans have to utilise every respectable opportunity provided to them, as artists and otherwise. Particularly in a country that nurtures so little among her people, and where our citizens face such challenges, it is a blessing to have a corporate like DStv that endorses the positive progression of our people,” she adds.
This taps into MultiChoice Zimbabwe’s standing as a brand rooted in the communities where its customers live, as well as its pledge to invest in the future of Zimbabwe.
Looking ahead, Ammara sees a role for herself in that future. “I believe I’m one of the leading lights in Zimbabwe; a symbol of female strength, humble liberty and artistic integrity. As much as I am proudly Zimbabwean, I hope to inspire a generation to break down Africa’s borders. Together, Africa could be more powerful than most Africans would even dare to imagine. I want to ‘creatively integrate’ with as many Africans as possible, and share this idea with as many people as possible so that we learn to embrace our differences and move forward as one in the spirit of Ubuntu. I think our greatest challenge right now as Africans is our journey of self-discovery. We don’t know how amazing we are…yet! I want to be a part of that journey,” she says.
Ammara’s professional achievements, and the position they have afforded her in being able to ask for community help for Zimbabweans affected by Cyclone Idai, speak to one of MultiChoice Zimbabwe’s core brand promises – that of using the power of entertainment to enrich the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans. At no time has that been more significant than right now, in one of the country’s greatest hours of need.
To donate food, clothes and toiletries to people affected by Cyclone Idai, please contact your nearest MultiChoice office.