One of hip hop’s greats completed a trip as an ambassador for HIV prevention in Africa this week.
Former Def Squad member Keith Murray, whose biggest hit “The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World” put him on rap’s map in the ’90s, traveled to Mozambique for “World AIDS Day.” About 1.8 million of Mozambique’s 20 million people are said to be infected with the deadly disease.
Not known to many fans is the personal connection that Murray has to HIV-related death: His mother became a victim after receiving a blood transfusion when Murray was 20. Three years later, he also lost a sister to AIDS.
“The impact that HIV and AIDS can have on a person and a family is something that I know on a very personal level, which is why I was so determined to make this trip,” he says. “The most painful part is watching people close to you go through it and feeling that there’s nothing you can do to help.”
Murray remained in Mozambique for almost a week after “World AIDS Day” on Dec. 1. He toured the southeast African nation, visiting orphans and making appearances as part of an effort to call attention to children who are infected. Orphans make up about 510,000 of the nations AIDS patients.
At work on his eighth album back in the States, Murray says his HIV-prevention activism is as important as his music: “It puts a lot of things in perspective on how much more we need to be doing on a global level to deal with this disease.”
Tobias Bradford, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, applauds the rapper for his involvement.
"We believe that his combination of a compelling personal history, and his ability to reach youths through his music and messages will help tens of thousands of young Mozambicans make more positive choices,” says Bradford. “At the same time, his visit will generate donations that provide food and other necessities to hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children.”