Childlessness has been a cause for sleepless nights for many couples in addition to women having to shoulder discrimination, stigma, and ostracism. There is also the fact that many women undergo great isolation, disinheritance, and assaults. While this is sad, and while the whole world is just coming to terms with the fact that infertility stigma is prevalent and there is need to fight it, it is emerging that men have been totally forgotten in this conversation.
As much as some of them would never admit it, it is good that men also get the message that the world knows about their plight and most of the cases can be addressed through relevant treatment.
One of the ways through which the ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign is trying to get out the message to end stigma against infertility is through songs by new and popular musicians in East Africa. Here are some of them
- Octopizzo Featuring Rozzie from Sierra Leonne
In this song, Octopizzo is featured together with Rozzie and he addresses the issue of blame that is usually apportioned to women in case a couple is unable to get a child. He also talks of physical violence as a way of men blocking what is happening to them and encourages them to get tested and treated.
Aged 29, Octopizzo, whose real name is Henry Ohanga one of East Africa’s most recognised hip-hop stars, and is using his success to break down the stigma associated with poverty and now infertility. Octopizzo is also the founder of the C.B.O. and youth group Y.G.B. (Young, Gifted, and Black), consisting of talented rappers, poets, graffiti artists, graphic artists, and dancers Octopizzo
I am very proud to work on this fantastic new remix of our theme song “Merck More than a Mother” Octopizzo,
- Tom Close
Tom Close is a Rwandese singer, songwriter, doctor, book illustrator and writer. Now he has added another feather in his cap and is an ambassador for stopping stigma against infertility. He worked on a song that encourages men who have been suffering infertility issues to seek help and treat their women better.
“I had too much fun working on this beautiful song “Life is Bigger” with a promising singer and songwriter from Rwanda, who is also a doctor. The song addresses infertility stigma with the aim of raising awareness about male infertility and sensitizing the community that #MenToo can suffer infertility not only women, and call upon every husband to share the journey of infertility treatment with his wife” Dr. Rasha Kelej added.
“Art has the capacity and influence to make the problem felt, which further stimulates emotions and leads to engagement and action. Hence we used this medium to address the issue of infertility with a special focus on male infertility to encourage men to speak up about their infertility and join the treatment journey with their wives. I personally believe that this song will add significant value to influence the culture change we are advocating” concluded Dr. Rasha Kelej.
- Rozzy from Sierra Leone
The song is about a simple woman from Africa who dreamt of a beautiful and happy family with kids and a loving husband. But fate was not on her side since she couldn’t have a baby for many years. Obviously, it was a painful experience for her, especially when her husband, the love of her life abandoned then divorced her because of her inability to bear a child.
Infertility affects women and men equally, both husbands and wives should share the journey of fertility treatment to build a happy family – it is a shared responsibility. Rozzy’s husband, however, never supported her and continuously blamed and abused her, like what happens every day to many women across Africa.
Broken and devastated, Rozzy lost all her hopes, until she met and joined Merck Foundation, a move that transformed her life entirely after getting empowered through ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign. Merck Foundation provided her with training, developed her skills and helped her to establish her small business to become independent, strong and happy.
Only when she discovered her purpose in life, she gained self-confidence and self-respect and knew how to reach her potential. She achieved the success she always deserved, not just professionally but in her pers
- Suzanna Owiyo
Suzanna Owiyo has also added her melodious voice to the fight against infertility stigma. She has also composed a song that urges the society to be cognizant about infertility and for couples to get treatment as well. The journey in music career saw Suzzana start by joining a Nairobi based singer, Sally Oyugi as a backup vocalist. Two years later she parted ways with Sally to team up with a local band in Nairobi; Bora Bora sound. Her career would later flourish in the lakeside city of Kisumu after she composed and sang the Kisumu 100 song that was the theme song for the celebrations of Kisumu becoming a city.