AFRICAN CHILDREN’S CHOIR
THE African Children’s Choir is singing and executing a vibrant dance pattern (above), much to the delight of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church members and guests, including representatives from the Inter-Religious Organisation. It played to a packed audience at the church on Jan 24, 2003.
The African children displayed enthusiasm and sheer joy in a punishing 90-minute non-stop performance – interrupted by a short break for announcements and a free-will offering. Their fluid but vigorous dance movements and youthful voices were like a whirring dynamo which left many breathlessly amazed.
Their repertoire included a variety of Christian African songs – each accompanied by a rhythmic dance pattern and the occasional solo obbligato. All in all, it was not only enjoyable but uplifting.
The performance was one of several which they did at more than 30 locations, including six Methodist churches (Grace, Foochow, Charis, Wesley, Paya Lebar and Kampong Kapor), Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road), Sentosa, the Esplanade and the Indoor Stadium, sometimes on consecutive days.
The African Children’s Choir, comprising some 30 children – one of three choirs that go on tour — visited Singapore during December and January.
The children, ranging from eight to 18 years old, were a musical and dance tour de force, taking the audiences by storm – so powerful and riveting, so spontaneous and joyful – that at the end of their programme, it is no exaggeration to say that people were at one with them.
Formed 18 years ago by Mr Ray Burnett, a Canadian human rights worker who had gone to Uganda to do research on a book about the years of its dictatorship, the choirs were the result of an initiative that began with relief projects run by local people.
To show how bright and beautiful African children are, with potential for their personal development, he brought the first children from Uganda on a tour to Vancouver where their repertoire of African and Western song and dance received standing ovations. Since then, the children now come from Sub-Saharan Africa – Sudan, Uganda and Ghana – and are educated and trained in South Africa, supported by donations from the countries they have visited.
It is hoped that they will form an expanding nucleus of African youth who will turn out as doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants – as indeed some of the earliest recruits have become, returning to their countries to rebuild the land, ravaged by conflicts, disease and poverty.