Sage Francis – “UBUNTU” song, video + fundraiser

“UBUNTU” is about the HIV-positive children I met during my stay in South Africa in 2011. Proceeds of this song’s sale through our Bandcamp page will be going to the children and their families. You can download it using the player above or here:

The video:

*UPDATE 1/15/13
Thanks to the Ubuntu song/fundraiser, the kids were taken out shopping for school gear last weekend! They are incredibly grateful for all your help and support. So am I. The next thing we’re going to do is get their roof fixed. For now, check em out lookin’  Durban fresh.

*UPDATE 12/28/12
So far we have raised $3,672.81!!! Instead of one single bed, the kids now have TWO separate bunk beds. Once the holidays are completely over, a person has been commissioned to fix their roof and other faulty items in their house. This is all thanks to the help of my friends Iain and Karen Robinson, who are facilitating everything for us on the ground in Durban.We’ll continue to raise money, put it toward the bare essentials, school supplies, medical care and whatever else we can. The kids are incredibly grateful. This was a great holiday for them thanks to your generosity.

As many of you know, there are millions (if not billions) of people who live in abject poverty in this world. Because of this, children are needlessly dying of preventable diseases. Some of these unfortunate kids may live next door to you. Some may live in a neighboring state. I just so happened to fall in love with this particular family while I was in South Africa and I’m in a position to make a lot of people aware of their story as we work to improve the situation. So that’s what I’m doing. To be sure, these kids represent a much larger contingent that deserves more attention. My aim is to reach the folks who are willing and able to provide that support, all while raising awareness about an issue that is often ignored by the media. I found myself wondering how I could do this. Since music is my craft, I did my best to do it through song. After facilitating a small circle of logistic support, and finagling a way to get the money to the kids as directly as possible, that’s exactly what I did. And that’s when other people came into play to help out…like you. The funds will continue to be raised and work will continue to be done. I’ll post updates as this campaign goes on. THANK YOU.

I have thought about these children every single day since being acquainted with them almost two years ago, I decided that I can no longer sit on this song. In January of 2011 I visited Durban, South Africa to help mentor and provide care for HIV-infected children. For me, it was a crash course education on their situation, culture, history, and various forms of treatment (or lack there of.) With a reported 5.6 million people living with HIV, South Africa has the highest HIV infection rate in the world. That is mainly due to misinformation propagated by the government as well as the people’s lack of access to education and proper medical care. With so many people dying of AIDS in this area, many children are often left to fend for themselves in overcrowded “orphanages”, many of which have no electricity or running water according to what I witnessed.

My trip to Durban and the surrounding rural areas was organized by people who were filming a documentary on a community of people who were receiving alternative treatment along with their normal ARV (anti-retroviral) treatment. I joined a group of national and international poets whose task it was to make a connection with the children and communicate their story to the world. Toward the end of my stay I wrote a song called UBUNTU (Water Into Wine) which I was initially hoping to release as a companion piece to the film. The documentary will probably do a much better job of explaining the vast array of emotions we all went through, but as it still isn’t completed I figured it might be best to just release the song now.

The artwork for UBUNTU is a portrait of Nonoti, one of the younger girls who made a deep and everlasting impression on everyone she met. We lost Nonoti to HIV-related complications earlier this year, so along with the children I name in this song, and all the great people I met during my stay in Durban, a special dedication goes out to her (R.I.P.)
If you’re ever given the opportunity to visit Africa and provide a helping hand, I highly recommend it. You will learn more than you could ever imagine about yourself, humanity and the world in general. You can view pictures of my trip to South Africa and the children this song is about by clicking here.

UBUNTU (Water Into Wine) LYRICS:

Ntokozo wants a yo-yo. A yo-yo. A yo-yo.
She learned about the ups and downs.
The kiddies want a photo. A photo. A photo.
I let them take my camera so they can make their rounds.
Thandiwe want’s some paper. More paper. More paper.
She’s the boss. She draws Christmas trees with snow.
I’m taking ’em home. All home.
To the snowmen to show them what I think they need to know,
About Zinhle, Sfundo, Zakheni,
Snetemba…survivor…a promise made to many.
An army of old souls in a battlefield of scattered ashes,
Lost ancient wisdom, and ignored AIDS symptoms.
UBUNTU. What’s good for me is good for you.
These brave soldiers combat the enemies of truth.
In a broken system with an open wound that will never heal,
If we just accept the way it is and never deal.
An infection can spread to the head if you let it.
Don’t let it affect the way you think…like “this is it.”
Oh, this is it? That’s all there is for all these kids?
These warriors? A never ending waiting list at an orphanage?
As water drips in the bucket, I could add another drop,
But I’ve got a feeling…that drop won’t fix the leaky ceiling.
If the leak gets fixed, what about when the roof collapses?
Six siblings sleeping on a single mattress.
UBUNTU. What’s bad for you is bad for me.
Zinhle, Sfundo, Snetemba, Zakheni,
Ntokozo, Thandiwe, stay strong…be brave,
I’ll make sure this world knows your names.
You were born on the front lines of a country that isn’t mine,
With a virus I don’t have, our family has no ties.
Nevertheless, I see you.
Sawubona. Yebo. Unjani? I’m fine.
I’m just praying for science to turn water into wine.
I’m just praying for science to turn water into wine.
I’m praying we’re not just left with prayer all the time.

Ntokozo wants a yo-yo. A yo-yo. A yo-yo.
She learned about the ups and downs.
The kiddies want a photo. A photo. A photo.
I let them take my camera so they can make their rounds.

I’ve seen townships stand proud in the freeze-frame of a motion picture.
I’ve seen kids risk exposing themselves to a social stigma.
In the name of breaking patterns and cycles of ignorance.
Hearts full of hope, eyes full of innocence.
These are heros. Now I call to the heads of State,
Recognize greatness when it’s in your face.
I traveled half the globe to see boys and girls stuck,
Without assistance. You insisted on hosting the World Cup?
That ain’t love, brother. What happened to you?
You beautified the parts of the city that tourists travel through.
You built a gorgeous stadium that can’t sustain itself,
Flexing superficial muscles in a false display of wealth.
Your most important resources need major help.
Think of how the medication and information on AIDS is dealt.
Beautify the way you save yourself,
For God’s sake, for human sake, for the sake of public heath.
One medicine drop in a bucket eventually evaporates.
The socks I bought Zakheni won’t fix fractures or breaks.
It’s not my suffering. It’s not my needlessly complex infrastructure.
It’s not my culture. Nevertheless I see you.
Sawubona. Yebo. Unjani. How YOU doin’? I’m fine.
I’m just praying for science to turn water into wine.

Ntokozo wants a yo-yo. A yo-yo. A yo-yo.
She knows about the ups and downs.
The kiddies want a photo. A photo. A photo.
I let them take my camera so they can make their rounds.
Thandiwe want’s some paper. More paper. More paper.
She’s the boss. She draws Christmas trees with snow.
I’m taking ’em home. All home.
To the snowmen to show them what I think they need to know,
Along with this praise poem and every child’s photo.
Inspiration given by Zinhle, Sfundo,
Thandiwe, Promise, Zakheni, Ntokozo,
The kids call me “Big Show” — that’s better than no show.

Many thanks to Phil Cooper for hooking up the artwork. The list of people to thank for their help and hard work is quite long actually. Much love to you all. Updates to come!
– Sage


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seth m. says

Don't stop Sage. You just made an old man who sometimes gets down on humanity smile and love the world again. Keep winning hearts and minds. Love.

Graves says

Sage, you are one of the realest cats at there. I love your music and even more, where you heart is at. I'm dying for a new album, but you're changing the world and making a difference and that's far more important.

DominicH. says

Those expensive stadiums you sing about are attracting people like Lady Gaga. Our country needs that market driven dribble like we need a kick up the ass. Would much rather have a Strange Famous SA Tour? 2013? Whatever time suits you guys best, you know where we live. Much love from Cape Town.

jovana says

I can't thank you enough for this, Sage.

Growing up in SA, and witnessing the stories of Zinhle, Sfundo, Snetemba, Zakheni, Ntokozo and Thandiwe replicated over and over again with nothing being done has resulted in me devoting my life to sustainable and involved social development. When we heard you were here, we tried to catch a last minute plane to see you do your thing in Durban but alas everything was sold out/way to expensive.

I am also quite involved with an incredible youth orchestra and choir, if you would ever be interested in doing a collab show/tour with them, or even just visiting SA again pls feel free to hit me up via mail and we can make something happen. Even if its just a quiet trip back to KZN, we can definitely make a plan.

Am eagerly awaiting whatever you have in store for us.

Tell Xaul I say hi ;) and much love to the rest of SFR.

menzi says

Interestingly I mentioned u in one of my facebook posts lastnight, and somehow I just clicked on you ...This is a great website, I have shared it with lots of friends and listening to the Music, I am so moved and close to tears, I will try and get as many folks to but it and also buy it myself so I can play it for the world. You are a Beautiful Soul Sage, The Divine Bless uou always! Maat Hotep!

Manzi says

Thank you Sage.
Thank you for continuing to remind the world what hip hop is about - the human experience.

Ngiyabonga, M.

Carol says

Sage, Thank you, Thank you for being the superman you are to these children. Life can make you jaded, but when you read what you are doing it sets a new bar of humility. I love your music, love your work and most of all I love your heart! .... A note from your oldest groupie.......

john says


Cody Blacklight says

I'm so glad you are doing stuff like this and not "I'm old but I'm still a badass" hiphop. Although, you still make bad ass motherfuckin hip hop.

Much love and respect.

kim p says

Stumbled onto this site from a facebook friend, and now I have ANOTHER reason to be grateful and hopeful today on this planet--thank you, Sage. This wonderful type of "stuff" is happening more and more around the world, and the more it's shared and seen, the more people become aware of what is possible, and it becomes the most wonderful circle of life. Small, beautiful steps, people, small, beautiful steps! Do your share, one small, beautiful step at a time! "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead.

laura says

What about madras? Madness. They're killin us with hatrid, sage. But it's your stage and at least i know now that someones got enough in em to save the day. Faith, hope and love but above all love saves. And by the way my name is fade-

RN for Congo says

I invite everyone who heard this wonderful song (or wrote it) to "like" my page on Facebook, RN for Congo, what it says....I'm devoted to the Iphone Orphans in DR Congo.Visit my page or blog to find out what it means. Planning third working trip there in 2013.Wonderful Song...wonderful. Thank you.

fresh til death tv says

I’m so glad you are doing stuff like this...........beautiful
funny videos

Sotiris says

Keep up Sage!

Jesper Petersson Colvin says

Since I first heard your music I knew you are a man with a BIG heart. You and your friends are doing what we all should be doing. It is so beautiful. True action! You are real, Sage! How can I help?


Laura Sanchez-Laracu says

UBUNTU>I AM BECAUSE WE ARE A Lovely way to live life in harmony with the rest of the world. <3

Laura Sanchez-Laracu says


leslie b says

your smile makes more. neverending affecting.