Silence can be amplified, MTN SA has demonstrated, with a silent version of the iconic Gwijo song, Mtakamama, also known as Thina Siyazalana (“we are related”). Gwijo is a traditional call-and-response singing style in the Xhosa culture.
Using the power of Gwijo to embrace the spirit of the country and to foster national unity, says MTN, the silent Gwijo pays tribute to the diversity of South Africa and aims to inspire the entire nation, including the deaf community, to rally behind the Springboks as they defend their Rugby World Cup title in France next month.
MTN collaborated with St Vincent School for the Deaf – a prominent institution known for its dedication to providing quality education to hearing-impaired or hard-of-hearing students – to form the captivating “Silent Choir” who perform Mtakamama in South African sign language, now South Africa’s 12th official language.
The Silent Choir is made up of 16 children from the age of 15 to 18 years-old and is led on-camera by Cathy Williams of St. Vincent School for the Deaf, with the off-camera support of Mmatlou Moloto and Sophia Rudham.
“The Silent Choir is an off shoot from our new TV ad, in which we tap into the passion of Gwijo and allow the power of Mtakamama to be the golden thread that rallies the nation,” says Nomsa Chabeli, GM of brand and marketing at MTN SA. “The song connects all South Africans to the Springboks and declares that our 60-million voices, in all 12 official languages, are behind the Boks as they ready themselves to defend the ultimate prize in France.”
MTNs advert, titled “One team. 60 million voices”, itself surpasses the boundaries of traditional campaigns to shine a light on the often underrepresented and overlooked deaf community.
Says Chabeli: “Through the power of Gwijo, our Silent Choir brings together voices that transcend spoken language and barriers. With this initiative, we are not only celebrating South Africa’s rich cultural heritage through Gwijo but also ensuring that the melody of the Gwijo anthem resonates with all South Africans, regardless of their hearing ability.”
St Vincent School principal Cathy Williams said: “This collaboration with MTN has opened new doors for our students, giving them a platform to showcase their talent and be part of a national movement. We are grateful to MTN for supporting our school’s mission to provide quality education and empower our deaf learners.”
Over the past eight years, MTN SA has donated 78 state-of-the-art multimedia centres to special schools catering to learners living with disabilities. Each multimedia centre, a 20-seater lab, costs an average of R1.5-million to build. These centres provide students with access to cutting-edge technology, opening doors to enhanced learning experiences and greater educational opportunities.
MTN is also presently piloting the relay service with 100 deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind participants. The relay service will be accessible through the Convo app, benefiting an estimated 235,000 local people who rely on sign language to communicate.