Free the Children: a concert of Ukrainian and South African musicians to draw attention to deported Ukrainian children 

On March 21, a concert Free the Children will take place in South Africa. Famous South African performers, band The Soil and the singer Langa Mavuso, together with Ukrainian artists, including the Eurovision 2024 National Selection participant band YAGODY, will perform to draw attention to the more than 19,500 Ukrainian children illegally deported from Ukraine by Russia. 

The concert is organized by the Ukrainian Institute in partnership with the South African private non-profit fund NIROX. 

The Free the Children concert is part of an artistic and civic collaboration that aims to establish stronger connections between Ukrainian and South African artists and activists. Among the participants are the band YAGODY, the South African acapella band The Soil, Anastasiya Voytyuk (bandura), Langa Mavuso, Tubatsi Moloi, AusTebza, Itai Hakim, Mpumi Mama Drum and Modise Sekgothe. 

Part of this collaboration is a month-long art residency for two Ukrainian artists at the Kromdraai Creativity Impact Hub. The residency was attended by Anastasiya Voytyuk, bandurist and singer, and Sergiy Petlyuk, media artist. As part of the residency programme, Ukrainian artists, in particular, are creating a unique musical product together with children from local communities, which is intended to inspire a global movement for children’s freedom, #FreeTheChildren. 

Also, from March 16 to 23, a delegation of Ukrainian child rights experts is visiting South Africa. The delegation includes the co-founder of the “Voices of Children” fund Azad Safarov and Ksenia Kornienko, a human rights lawyer from the NGO “Regional Center for Human Rights”. They will explore how South Africa can help find abducted Ukrainian children on the territory of Russia, use international mechanisms to return them, and hold accountable the criminals responsible for the abduction. The delegation will meet with South African human rights defenders and legal experts, including the Center for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. 


The concert will take place on March 21st, at the NIROX Sculpture Park in the town of Krugersdorp near Johannesburg. 

According to official sources of the Ukrainian government, 19,546 children were illegally deported by Russia. These are only the cases that have been documented. Only 388 children have been returned to Ukraine. To get up-to-date official data, please visit the website.