The group, which does not yet have a name, was formed in late 2013 in part due to the previous work of member Itumeleng Mokoena.
Mokoena, who previously worked with the Department of Health, said he often felt that people left health awareness events with unclear messages.
He said he saw a need to combine entertainment and education to deliver health messages.
“We decided to tell people about these illnesses in a happier way,” said fellow member Lebogang Lethlake. “It’s important that they know the signs of these diseases.”
“We hope to make a huge difference,” he added.
Two of the group’s most popular songs are “Fokotsa,” which encourages young people to reduce their HIV risk by abstaining from sex and being faithful, as well as “E kgona go fola,” which stresses that TB is curable – if patients adhere to treatment
OurHealth spoke to Lesego Olifant from Ext 3 in Alabama outside Klerksdorp about how the group’s music captured the realities of daily life in the community – and helped bridge the communication divide between young and old.
“It’s really amazing that they sing about things that happen in our daily life as a basis to make everyone aware,” Olifant said. “The idea is great because our parents can hear the message for themselves, and it’s better than if someone reads to them.”
Producer Tumisang Mokate said that he hoped to capitalise on widespread use of mobile phones to make the group’s music – and messages – go farther.
“Young people listen to music through their cell phones these days, so we have seen how easy it is to get the message through to them,” says Mokate who adds that the group is planning an album for national release. “We won’t exclude older people though.”
The group is already planning to address medical male circumcision as an HIV prevention method and the dangers of illegal abortions in future songs.