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DUT staff nominated for Independent Living Disability Lifestyle Award

DUT staff nominated for Independent Living Disability Lifestyle Award

Media statement by Nomonde Mbadi, Executive Director of Corporate Affairs

Rakesh Soni has been nominated to receive Independent Living Disability Lifestyle Award for his contribution to music. He is the only nominee in the music category. He is expected to receive this award alongside Olympian stars like Natalie Du Toit and Oscar Pistorius in the sport category at Nasrec Exhibition Centre in Johannesburg on 3 October 2008.

Soni, physically challenged, self taught flutist and tabla player, is the Network Administrator at the Durban University of Technology (DUT). He has been playing the flute as a hobby since 1989 and tabla, Indian drum, since in Grade 7. He has accompanied many local and international artists. He got his inspiration of flute playing from Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. He is also a great fan of Ustad Zakir Hussain on for his tabla recitals.

“This is a very important event for me and I value it a lot. People with disability are not often acknowledged. Instead people only see what we cannot do. They forget that disabled people can do things that able-bodied people cannot do. I am proud and honoured to be the only one nominee in the music category,” says Soni. He advises that ‘if you have a dream or goal, follow it’. He is inspired by former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, Human right activist, Mahatma Gandhi and the leader of Black Consciousness Movement, Steve Biko. He is inspired by the fact that these people fought for what they believed in.

Soni was one of five artists from Kwa-Zulu Natal chosen to represent South Africa in the Very Special Arts International music and dance festival, which took place in Istanbul, Turkey in 2001. This was the highlight of his music career as he met people from 17 different countries and this gave him an opportunity to learn about their cultures and style of music. He also went on a learnership course in Manchester, England in 2002. This was organised by the Drake Music Company of England and Very Special Arts KZN. Here he studied Music Technology at the Royal Northern College of Music. While in Manchester, he performed with various international groups at a concert held at the Royal Northern College of music. He played amongst orchestras such as the Halle Symphony, which is regarded as one of England’s finest, the English Folk Music Circuit, the Fosbrooks as well as artist from Namibia. This concert was a fusion of English, Indian and African Music. He believes that his nomination is because of God’s grace. He played flute for his Spiritual Master Pramukh Swami Maharaj who is the Head of the Swaminarayan Hindu Mission on 10 Aug1999. He has had the opportunity of meeting and playing for the legendary Indian film actor Amitabh Bachchan.

Soni was the only Proudly SA Indian Artist to have played to a House Full audience during his yearly concerts at the SupaNova Theatre on a Monday evening for 2 years in a row. He is the recipient of the StakeHolders Award 2007 by the Arts and Culture Department for his contribution in the field of Transformation. This he obtained because of his ability to overcome limitations and produce music of a high quality.

For comment, please contact Rakesh Soni on 082 978 8498 or 031 373 5386/6808.