AWARD-winning South African musician Zonke Dikana has always wanted to do something to help those less fortunate and now she finally has the opportunity to do her part under the banner of one of the world’s most recognised human rights and refugee organisations.
Dikana, originally from New Brighton in Port Elizabeth, has been named a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) goodwill ambassador.
She joins other previous and current UN goodwill ambassadors who were international celebrities before they joined the cause, including Angelina Jolie, Sophia Loren and the late Richard Burton.
Earlier this week Dikana, 31, jetted off to the US where she will visit the UN offices in New York to get a better understanding of her role. Once she is officially appointed while in the US, she will do the same as all other goodwill ambassadors – effectively deliver goodwill wherever there are refugees. She will base her work as an ambassador in Africa.
“Becoming a goodwill ambassador is very exciting. The strict definition is that UNHCR goodwill ambassadors are celebrity representatives of the office of the UNHCR who use their talent and fame to advocate for refugees,” Dikana said.
“At this time I’m still being supplied with reading material. I have to study, you know. I am learning what the difference is between an asylum seeker and a refugee.”
One of Dikana’s first duties has been to write a song commissioned by the UN, which she called My Brother’s Keeper. “Basically this song is about being accepting of others and also realising that we are all the same irrespective of where we come from.
“We all have a responsibility to our fellow human beings and I guess the song pretty much speaks to what it means to be a goodwill ambassador.”
Dikana is also meeting with two top US music artists – Anthony Hamilton, with whom she will work on a collaboration, and Malik Yusef, who has produced hits for stars including Kanye West.
While she had no news about a new album, Dikana said there was exciting news on the horizon for her fans.
“Unfortunately, I cannot really say much more than this.”
Dikana has been nominated in three categories in the 12th annual Metro FM Music Awards – best produced album and best female album for Ina Ethe, and best song of the year for Feelings.
The winners will be announced in Durban on February 23.