Q INTERVIEW: John Mann's Bulembu

John Mann's trip to the Swaziland town of Bulembu inspired a song — being released in time for World AIDS Day — and a new outlook for the Spirit of the West frontman.
John Mann's visit to Bulembu, in Swaziland, inspired a song about the resilience of its children. (http://sotw.ca)

Bulembu is an abandoned mining town in Swaziland that was purchased by the Vancouver-based not-for-profit group Bulembu International to provide a safe home for Swazi children who have lost their parents to AIDS. 

Swaziland is one of the African nations hardest hit by HIV/AIDS and has about 120,000 orphans.

When Spirit of the West's lead singer John Mann was invited to visit the town, he half expected to see the distended bellies and intense poverty of a UNICEF calendar.

Instead, he found bright, lively children and a town — equipped with a bakery and clean water — that is doing its best for the youngsters.

In an interview with Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC’s Q cultural affairs show, Mann described his trip to Bulembu as a life-changing experience.

Mann has written and released a new song, entitled Bulembu, as a fundraiser for Bulembu International and released it just ahead of World AIDS Day on Thursday.

He travelled back to Swaziland this fall to record the song's chorus with the children of Bulembu.