Prudence Mabhena

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Prudence Mabhena
Prudence Mabhena
Prudence Mabhena
Born(1986-02-23)February 23, 1986
EducationKing George VI School
  • Musican
  • Song Writer
Notable work
  • Winning the Oscar Award for the best documentary

Prudence Mabhena is a an award-winning Zimbabwean born musician. She rose to fame with her afro-fusion music.


Prudence Mabhena was born on 23 February 1986 and she was born with Arthrogryposis, and was severely disabled. The society she was born into considers disabilities to carry the taint of witchcraft. Because of this, she was abandoned by her family. As a result, she was raised by her maternal grandmother who sang to her while working on her farm. She later attended King George VI School for the disabled in Bulawayo.

Educational Background

Prudence attended King George VI School for the Disabled in Bulawayo.[1]

Music career

Prudence pursued her music career in the afro-fusion music group which she led.[2] Their road to fame started after winning the Music Crossroads provincial finals in 2006, from where they proceeded to Marondera for the national finals where they came third. As a prize, they went to compete in Mozambique in the Southern Africa finals, where again they came third.[2] Again, as a prize they went on a tour of Europe and, for between five and six weeks, they criss-crossed Sweden, the Netherlands and Belgium.[2]

In 2008, Prudence had a ground-breaking appearance at Gary Thompson's show dubbed CBZ A-Academy.

While at school she discovered a love for music and performing, and founded the band Liyana with seven other disabled students and was made up of:

  • Prudence Mabhena – singer and composer (suffers from arthrogryposis)
  • Tapiwa Nyengera – back-up singer, keyboard, front man (has spina bifida)
  • Energy Maburutse – first marimba player, back-up vocalist (suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, brittle bone syndrome)
  • Honest Mupatse – tenor marimba player (has hemophilia)
  • Marvelous Mbulo – back-up singer (has muscular dystrophy)
  • Vusani Vuma – bass marimba player (is hearing-impaired)
  • Goodwell Nzou – traditional drums and percussion, back-up singer (leg amputated)
  • Farai Mabhande – lead keyboardist (suffers from arthrogryposis)

The band tried to overcome stereotypes and inspire the same people that once saw them as a curse. Her story was later turned into the film Music by Prudence (film), which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the 82nd Academy Awards.

Music by Prudence also won:

  • the Audience Award for Best Documentary Short at the Florida Film Festival
  • Best Short at the Africa World Documentary Film Festival
  • Best Short at the DocuWest Film Festival.

OSCAR Award 2013

In 2013, Roger Ross Williams stumbled upon Prudence's touching story and decided to do a documentary about her life, especially that Prudence was leading the eight-piece afro-fusion band comprising disabled members.[2] And the documentary, Music by Prudence, went on to win an Academy Award, commonly known as an Oscar, whereupon she was carted from Bulawayo to the bright lights of Los Angeles for the awards ceremony.[2]

In 2010, she als toured the United States of America.[2] The tour included performances and workshops. It was that tour which was to redefine the band further, as three members, Goodwill Nzou, Energy Maburutse and Honest Mupatsi were to get scholarships to study in the US.[2]

On April 20, 2013 she launched her long awaited album at the Bulawayo Theatre in a show supported by a galaxy of local stars including Afrika Revenge's former frontman and Afro pop exponent Willis Wataffi who also features on the album, acappella boys Conquerors 7, singer-songwriter and producer Asaph and Velaphi Gumbo (VG) who is the album's producer and co-organiser of the launch show with one Peter Traquino.


  • Sugar Rhythms
  • Liyana
  • Ithemba Lami (gospel solo Album)


Apart from music awards, she also received the 2018 Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards given to leaders in disability sector.

Related Profiles You Might Want to See


  1. , Prudence Mabhena: Out Of Struggle, A Soaring Voice,NPR Organisation, published:11 May 2010,retrieved:27 Feb 2015"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 G. Mazara, The Oscar that Prudence Mabhena never won,Bulawayo24, published:24 Nov 2013,retrieved:27 Feb 2015"

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