THE AFRICAN CHILDREN’S CHOIR IS MADE UP OF 17 CHILDREN FROM THE AGES OF EIGHT TO 10. THIS YEAR THE CHILDREN ARE FROM THE ENTEBBE-KAMPALA REGION OF UGANDA. THEY WILL PERFORM ON DEC. 9, AT 10:45 A.M. IN THE CRESWELL CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE. Photo provided
On Sunday Dec. 9, Creswell will have the opportunity to hear a collaboration between Western Hymns and Ugandan style music, as the African Children’s Choir lists the Church of Nazarene to perform their latest album, ”Just as I am.”
This nine-track album also features three original African gospel songs, beyond the ”well-loved children’s songs, traditional spirituals and gospel favorites,” the press release said.
”It’s really cool to see not just their African spin on things and their energy, but these hymns and traditional songs,” Janelle Hoekstra, tour director, said. ”They have the same impact around the world, and the same meaning to people in Uganda and Africa as it does in the U.S.”
The concert will be at 10:45 a.m. in the Creswell Church of the Nazarene, 805 S. Front St. The concert is free, to ensure that it’s accessible to everyone, but donations are accepted.
The choir formed in 1984 by Ray Burnett – dubbed Daddy Ray – when he was doing relief work in Uganda. He gave a ride to an orphaned boy, who sang in the car with such a ”pure joy and dignity that moved him,” Hoekstra said. ”He said if we could see this vision of Africa and they joy in the children, we would have a different view.”
He started the Choir to bring to the West, as an example to invoke the potential of Africa, instead of a feeling of pity.
”It’s so easy when people are in situations of poverty and distress to think ‘poor them,’” Hoekstra said. ”These children really do have such potential and need help to unlock it; they’re missing opportunity not ability.”
Since it started, over 1,000 children have been a part of the choir. This year there are 17 children, ranging in ages eight to 10. Each year the choir is chosen from a specific area, and this year the children are from the Entebbe-Kampala area of Uganda. Families in need, who have trouble providing an education to children, are invited to a camp where they attend school and start training, and at the end around 17 to 20 kids are selected.
”We figure out where we can impact and help the most,” Hoekstra said, ”so the criteria of need is the first thing we’re looking at.”
The African Children’s Choir is part of the organization Music For Life. Their motto is, ”Helping Africa’s most vulnerable kids today, so they can help Africa tomorrow.” Hoekstra said that the goal of the choir is to break the cycle of poverty by providing the children an education. Beyond education, touring opens the children’s view of the world, she said, and shows real options available to them. During the tour, the children experience Christmas lights, horseback riding and swimming through the host parents they stay with.
”By helping these kids, they can go back to their own communities and make a difference there,” she said. ”We want to show their joy and get that image out there.”