South African actress and human rights activist Nomzamo Mbatha amplified the call for much-needed COVID-19 vaccines in Africa at Global Citizen’s VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World.
This weekend, the concert was broadcast around the world with a strong message for global leaders, businesses, and philanthropists to step up for vaccine equity.
Mbatha took to the stage following VAX LIVE campaign co-chair Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex — exchanging a fist-bump with him after he thanked health care workers for their dedication — and highlighted the importance of making vaccines available to everyone, everywhere.
As she spoke, Mbatha painted a picture of the serious reality that Africa is currently facing, both for the live audience of thousands of fully vaccinated health care workers and essential workers at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, where the show was pre-taped on May 2, and for all the viewers at home across the globe.
“For many, life and a return to the things we love is coming back, but across the African continent, only 1% of people have received a vaccine,” she said. "In the United States just last week, 50 million doses were administered. Yet in my home country, South Africa, a nation of almost 60 million people, it was only 10,000 doses."
“Many in Africa might not get a vaccine until 2023,” the actress continued. “That’s two years from now. And it is simply unacceptable. The spirit is in us all to rally together and demand that no one, wherever they are born, is left behind.”
Following Mbatha’s message, South African YouTube content creator Thembe Mahlaba presented a segment highlighting vaccine hesitancy in the country.
"Over a year ago, COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill," she said. "A year on, the vaccine seems to be the only credible intervention to halt the spread of the virus and bring us back together. But vaccine mistrust, hesitancy, and inequity continues to undermine global efforts."
She then went on to speak to experts and health care workers in an effort to highlight the work that still needs to be done to create trust in the COVID-19 vaccine, so that when South Africa eventually has enough vaccines for its population, citizens will be open to getting it.
Speaking to Mahlaba, MD and health executive Dr. Sivu Madikana said: "A lot of people have fears and they're justified in their fears, but education is the first step, so ensuring that people have enough knowledge out there. So we need to have more information being distributed... and in multiple languages."
When asked what his message was for the world and South Africa, Madikana added: "Get vaccinated. You're not just saving your life but you're saving other people's lives as well. Getting a vaccination for me has been one of my greatest decisions from the last two years."
One health care worker — infection, prevention, and control nurse Sr. Tebogo Louw from Johannesburg's Unjani Clinic — explained why he got vaccinated and why he believes citizens should take the vaccine.
“We need to be vaccinated if we have any standing chance in actually going back to normality,” he said. “Right now it’s our best shot and our best hope and I hope the country sees that.”
The star-studded event was hosted by multi-platinum recording artist, actress, and producer Selena Gomez and featured memorable performances by Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Vedder, Foo Fighters, J Balvin, and H.E.R.
If you missed out on watching the concert, you can stream it on Global Citizen’s YouTube Channel. If you're in Africa, you can find all the ways you tune in and watch here. And if you're not in Africa, head here for how to tune in around the world.
As part of Global Citizen’s Recovery Plan for the World campaign, VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World brought together artists, entertainers, world leaders, and more to ensure equitable vaccine distribution around the world, tackle COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, and celebrate a hopeful future.
You can still catch the concert on the Global Citizen YouTube channel and on various channels and platforms. Be sure to join us in taking action to end the pandemic and ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to COVID-19 vaccines. Then, head to our multimedia hub VAX BECAUSE to join candid conversations about the pandemic and find answers to your biggest questions about the vaccines.
Want to take home part of the show? Check out our VAX LIVE merch at the Global Citizen official store.