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Oscar for Short Documentary Recognizes Disabled Zimbabwean Woman's Struggle

The Oscar-winning short-documentary "Music by Prudence" tells the story of Prudence Mabhena's struggle to rise above a world of hatred and superstition to realize her potential through music and love

Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world on Monday in observing International Women’s Day one day after a short documentary about a handicapped Zimbabwean woman received an Academy Award under the category of Best Documentary Short Subject.

The documentary, entitled “Music by Prudence,” tells the true story of Prudence Mabhena, whose mother struggled to keep her alive when her fathers family took against her mother her for giving birth to a child with deformities. Prudence survives against all odds to become lead singer in a group called Liyana at a government-backed school for the disabled.

When Prudence was born, her paternal grandmother feared her congenital defect was caused by witchcraft and instructed her mother not to feed her.

When Prudence’s mother refused to let her child die, her husband threw her out. She raised the child in her rural home but died four years later, leaving Prudence in the care of her maternal grandmother.

"Music by Prudence" tells the story of the girl's struggle to rise above a world of hatred and superstition into the realm of music, love and possibilities.

With seven other members of her band, all disabled, Prudence manages to overcome stereotypes and inspire some of those who once saw her as cursed.

She is the lead singer of the musical group Liyana, based at the King George VI Secondary School in Bulawayo, the country's second largest city.

The documentary's producer, Elinor Burkett, provided a moment of drama at the awards ceremony, taking a page from entertainer Kanye West’s playbook by storming the stage and interrupting the acceptance speech of collaborator Director Roger Ross.

Burkett told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that the award was for all disabled children who are told they cannot achieve anything in life.