Amy’s lockdown anthem against abuse
Knysna woman learns instrument during lockdown to compose song against domestic violence
At a time when many South Africans are finding themselves voiceless while genderbased violence is surging, a Knysna woman has "found her voice" through music, by writing and composing a song for women suffering from abuse during lockdown.
Whereas the lockdown came as a welcome measure against the spread of Covid-19 for most people, in a country where genderbased violence (GBV) is rife it bode ill for the thousands of vulnerable women trapped in abusive relationships at home.
Within the first week of lockdown more than 2 000 calls were made to the GBV hotline, to the point that president Cyril Ramaphosa touched on the issue in his national address on television on 14 May: "There have been very disturbing reports of increased levels of gender-based violence since the lockdown started. The scourge of gender-based violence continues to stalk our country as the men of our country declared war on the women," the president noted.
These women's plight prompted Knysna resident Amy Burger, who is herself a survivor of GBV, to write and compose her own song with the help of a ukulele. "I wasn't going to post my songs because I've always been afraid of the feedback or judgment, but with all the women abuse out there and having been subjected to that before, I felt the need to share this one," Burger said in a Facebook post in which she shared the song.
Burger, who has never played the ukulele before, borrowed the instrument from a friend when lockdown began, and as soon as she started learning and strumming chords, everything just flowed, she says. "When I stopped trying to learn songs on YouTube, I just started strumming randomly and next thing I was rhyming," she said in an interview with Knysna-Plett Herald.
"Suddenly deeply buried emotions from my past were on my lips and I started crying. Clearly it wasn't forgotten, and then it made me think about how many women are stuck in lockdown, being abused, weak and helpless."
From that point onwards everything just started to "click" for her in the song-making process. "I wrote this song in one morning – the same day I posted it, actually. There was so much emotion pouring into it, that it just flowed and I couldn't stop. I recorded it the first time I sang it, I didn't even do a second recording," she said. "That first one was so raw, and real, and hit home. So I posted it. I loved how liberated I felt and I wanted other women out there to feel the same."
Burger's favourite line from the song, "I've been set free", is one that inspires liberation for victims of GBV, she believes. "There is no greater feeling knowing that you built up enough courage to walk away and had the strength to see a brighter tomorrow no matter how dark today may have seemed." She also points out that she did not post the song for her personal gain. "I posted this song not for recognition, but if one woman who hears it – who is hurting, scared and feels alone – can feel even the slightest bit hopeful and encouraged, then my work is done."
Are you a victim of/witness to GBV?
There are a number of measures in place to assist victims of GBV. You can call the GBV Command Centre on 0800 428 428, SMS "help" to 31531, or send a "please call me" to *120*7867#. You can also report child abuse to the Childline South Africa on 0800 055 555, or the Domestic Violence Helpline on 0800 150 150. There is also a Skype service for the deaf community.
Amy Burger has turned to the ukulele to help find her voice against gender-based violence.