GOOD CAUSE: Award-winning South African muscian, Ernie Smith, will open for Vusi Mahlasela, above, at the Action in Autism Benefit Concert.
GOOD CAUSE: Award-winning South African muscian, Ernie Smith, will open for Vusi Mahlasela, above, at the Action in Autism Benefit Concert.
Ernie Smith
Ernie Smith

IT’S always great to support concerts in South Africa, but it’s even better when it’s a concert for a worthy cause. This way, you know you did your bit while enjoying an awesome show. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.

On Saturday, Action in Autism in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality will host a Benefit Concert for Autism featuring Vusi Mahlasela (pictured) at the Durban City Hall. The opening act will be Durban’s Ernie Smith, whose mix of jazz, African and R&B references will be sure to get the crowd revved up for Mahlasela.

As a non-profit organisation, Action in Autism was established to act as a lobbyist, support group and fund-raising body for parents of children with autism. The central focus of the organisation is to improve the quality of life for people with autism spectrum disorders and their caregivers.

Tonight caught up with Sotho singer and songwriter, Mahlasela, to learn more about his involvement in the show.

“I understand the importance of supporting people and those who have to take care of disabled people in a family. I have a disabled child in my family as well.

“Also, awareness relating to autism needs to be raised in the communities because people with autism are being abused and are victims of crime. Autism is costly for the people who are living with those (who have it) and the parents taking care of them because autism patients need to be taken care of for long hours. It’s a 24/7 job and it is costly to monitor people with autism.

“I wanted to do the concert to help the families with (members with) autism. But I think the cure for autism is more love, love and love. Not only from the individuals affected, but from the people in the community,” he shares.

The South African Music Awards recently honoured Mahlasela with a Lifetime Achievement Award to recognise his accomplishments at home and abroad. A press release states that the honour made the troubadour look back and realise it had been 20 years since the release of his debut album, When You Come Back.

Commenting on this, the self-taught guitarist says: “Well, it’s a great feeling. All the accolades I got just mean more responsibility for me and that is why I want to turn this into a positive cause by involving myself and participating in things that are a good cause, charities and more responsibilities.”

Steering the conversation back to the Action in Autism Benefit Concert, Mahlasela says it’s a great concept: “It’s the Vusi people know and Ernie Smith as the opening act is a great musician whom I respect. Songs like Heaven in my Heart will be performed. But it’s all about love and how important it is to have love for people with this disability.

“So the show will be more about those subjects and other things as well as talking about the importance of ubuntu and to raise awareness and encourage people to understand the tradition. I’d really love it if people would support this cause because people with autism need the support. I urge people to have it in their hearts to support this and to come to the concert,” he says.

• The Vusi Mahlasela Action in Autism Benefit Concert takes place on Saturday at the Durban City Hall from 7pm. R180 to R250 at Computicket. Call Kirsten Miller at 031 2074858 or e-mail [email protected]