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Kenyan choir to perform at Queen’s bash

By GEORGE ORIDO standard newspaper
The beginning is captivating. A young man sits pensively at his slum shack in Nairobi going through the script of his life.

For years, he has worked and at times, he has earned handsomely. But there is nothing to show for it.

Then an idea comes to his mind and he brightens up. He has resolved to go back to his father in the family’s rural home and like the biblical prodigal son, ask his father to give him a piece of land to till. In the land lies treasure.

Maisha ya mjini ni tabu tu madeni tu, Pesa za mjini ni kama chumvi huyeyuka ni bure tu! Baba nipe shamba, nitafanya kazi kwa mikono yangu, nijilishe mwenyewe… (Life in the city is just problematic; the money you earn melts away like salt. Dad, give me land I will work hard and take care of myself).

This is the chorus of the song whose video starts so powerfully.
The message in Kenya’s legendary David Zalo’s classic Nimerudi Mashambani as sang by the Nairobi Chamber Chorus has resonated across borders.

Organisers of the forthcoming Queen of England’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant to be held in Windsor, United Kingdom, on the weekend of June 2nd-5th before the queen and her distinguished guests, have invited the group to perform at the opening ceremony, the Africa repertoire and the grand finale of the pageant.

Part of it all
Ken Wakia, the choir conductor and leader, says they are excited about this invitation and are looking forward to joining other famous musicians, singers, dancers and military personnel performing at the grand event.

Says Wakia: "The queen celebrates a Diamond Jubilee only once and it is truly extraordinary to be part of it all."
Four Kenyan dancing troupes, which will perform Luo, Maasai, Kikuyu and Kamba traditional renditions, will join the group.

So important is Kenya in the queen’s heart as she marks her 60 years in the throne that the country has been granted five slots out of the seven reserved for Africa.
Others from the continent are Watoto Orphans Choir from Uganda and Zulu Warriors from South Africa.

Nairobi Chamber Chorus will also perform Nyathi Onyuol, a Luo nativity song about the birth of Jesus Christ.

During their fundraising show for the trip at Michael Joseph Centre last weekend attended by the British High Commissioner Peter Tibber, American ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration, the choir received standing ovations and the audience urged them for repeat performances of some songs which they gladly did.

"The Nairobi Chamber Chorus will save this nation from her negative ethnicity tendencies by adapting and singing music from all the 47 counties," suggested Chris Kirubi, who offered his personal support toward the endeavour.

Highest peak
While this invitation marks the highest peak of the group, the choir has performed alongside world renowned musical companies, including the Guildhall Orchestra, London Adventist Chorale, Cape Town Opera and UK-based Opera House.

Led by the soprano vocals of Esther Nashipae, Grace Akhamuru, Grace Awiti, Judith Chepkurui, Melanie Oruri and Mukami Mugambi, choral group will perform alongside The Mounted Band of The Household Calvary Regiment, Kings Troop, and Royal Horse Artillery during the opening ceremony.

Other entities scheduled for the event include Mexican singers and dancers, Chilean Huasos (cowboys), Australian Cook Island Dancers and Asian Dhol Drummers and Dancers.
According to the programme, the performances will take the guests around the World in 60 years with over 500 horses and 800 international artistes coming together at The Windsor.

It is expected that public tickets will sell out fast and Kenya is lucky to have special allocations which are currently available for purchase.
While the occasion is going to be a not-for-profit event with proceeds going to selected charities around the world, private viewing boxes, VIP hospitality and Around the World packages are available.For instance, an informal dining experience within the member’s enclosure, offering a tantalising selection of foods from around the world served from themed buffet station will cost Sh40,000 per person.

Founded in October 2005 by Wakia, the group has had more than 60 members and its aim is to scale the heights of quality music as well as build careers of young budding musicians.