Last week my daughter’s choir had their first concert of the school year. This fall concert was an African concert when the choir performed songs from African countries. We heard traditional Zulu, Zambian and Nigerian folk songs, a freedom song of South Africa and the “Famine Song”, inspired by Sudanese basket weavers – this song really got under my skin.
Although the choir was excellent, the true highlight of the evening was the performance of the special guests, The New Life Band from Tanzania. They started out singing with the choir, an African Processional, “Jambo rafiki yangu” (welcome friend) and then took over the stage. Within a few minutes, the entire hall was “on fire”. Their traditional African drum rhythms could hardly keep me in my seat. These eight highly talented musicians had a unique way to reach out through close harmonies, contemporary music of Africa – and those incredible drums. They got us out of our seats, dancing and clapping and singing a few words in Swahili – it was magical. There wasn’t a single person sitting in the audience, everybody was moving to the rhythm of the music. Those drums – they really got us going.
The real moving part, however, was found in their stories. They work with a ministry in a small village 15 km away from Arusha. Their music is their way to raise money for their village to build a school (the choir at my daughter’s high school supports this school). With all the support they have got through their highly popular youth camps and concerts – they come to the US and our school every three years (which means we’ll have another chance to see them before my daughter graduates in 2016) – they were able to build their village school, and a few students of our high school even helped with the construction. They talked about what it means for these kids to be able to attend school, to learn and thus have a brighter future. They reminded us how often kids in the US (and, I want to add, in many Western civilizations) don’t want to go to school, drop out or just waste this time while they should learn in order to have a future. They mentioned how privileged we are. You could hear the audience grow very quiet – yes, we are so privileged, we take so many things for granted.
It made me feel grateful. Grateful that my daughter gets a good education she takes seriously, that her future is wide open. I’m thankful that I don’t have to be afraid that someone shoots her just because she wants an education. That she doesn’t have to sit on the floor but in an air-conditioned room. That she doesn’t have to share her textbook with ten other students.
During intermission, the band sold necklaces from their native country – another way to raise funds for their school. I bought one for my daughter, as a reminder of this particular concert and all the blessings we have in our life.
Bwana Awabariki – may God grant you a blessing.