Out of Africa: Children’s Choir to perform at Michael D. Palm Theatre

Out of Africa: Children’s Choir to perform at Michael D. Palm Theatre

African_children_5 The news we get out of Africa is generally one-sided and not good. In America, “Africa” spells “t-r-o-u-b-l-e”: AIDS, malaria, genocide, impasse in Zimbabwe, fighting in the Congo, slavery in West Africa. Although the continent is comprised of 54 distinct countries, we tend to think of it as a monolith conjoined to the word “darkest,” suggesting a backward, dangerous, remote corner of the world where hope disappears in dense jungles. But hope is not dead – far from it. Signs of hope are headed our way in the form of The African Children’s Choir.

African_children_2_2 On Friday, November 14, a group of young people, ages 7 – 11, all from the country of Uganda, perform a “Journey of Hope Concert.” Their upbeat, energetic program consists of a medley of joyful songs from a number of tribes: fishing, dancing, courting, hunting, etc.

Showtime is 7 p.m. at the Palm.

The Choir operates in seven different African countries: Uganda. Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, the Sudan, Ghana and South Africa. All participating children have lost one or both parents to poverty or disease. The Choir tends to target the most vulnerable with the idea of changing Africa one child at a time.

“We recognized early on that education is the key to long-term change and advancement in Africa,” said founder/executive producer, ordained Irish minister Raymond Barnett. “It’s the children who become the leaders of tomorrow and can make a difference.”

According to publicity administrator Dawna Hodgins, children recommended by NGOs, pastors, churches, social workers, schools go through a selection process that begins at special camps. “Children, who attend our camps for about week, get to be children: they sing, dance and draw. Personalities emerge and staff decides which ones are a fit.”

Only half the kids selected from the camps actually wind up touring.
“We choose the final 22-28 who will tour based on home visits.”
Each year, a new Choir is selected. Children from previous groups return to their homeland to attend school, where their continuing education is completely funded by the Choir and its umbrella organization, Music for Life.

Some young adults go on to university, where they train as doctors, engineers, or other professional leaders. Others receive vocational and technical training.

“We follow our children, many of whom become ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles,’ the name we give chaperones who accompany our tour,” explained Hodgins. One of the chaperones on the tour coming to town is Prossy Nakiyemba, African choreographer/performer.

Prossy was born in 1983 in Uganda. She toured with the 13th Choir from 1995–1997. Afterwards, she returned home to study, graduating in 2007 with a certificate in journalism and creative writing. She began touring with the choir in March 2007 as Choir conductor.

African_children_3_2 Robert is another success story. He joined the very first Choir in 1984, when his country, also Uganda, was in the midst of a civil war that left thousands of orphans in great need. Like subsequent Choirs, the first one traveled to the West to tell the story of these children in hope that the rest of the world would come to their aid and help relieve the suffering.
“Robert, his younger brother, and his sisters tried to escape to the big city of Kampala,” explained Hodgins. “Sadly, the girls did not make it, but the brothers did. Today, Robert is a doctor and his brother is a civil engineer.”

To purchase tickets please visit www.telluridepalm.com or call 970-369-5669.

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