A 30-member Africa University Chamber Choir officially opened the 20th World Methodist Conference in Durban, South Africa on Aug. 4. With the South African hymn “Siyahamba” (“We are marching in the light of God”), the choir led the traditional banner procession of the various members of the World Methodist Council participating in the global conference. Thank you for your generous support of the Africa University Fund which supports Africa University and it's graduates.
More than 1,800 delegates from 58 countries are part of the historic event, which will conclude on Aug. 8. This year, the conference is being held under the theme, “Jesus Christ for the healing of the nations.”
Featuring rhythmic marching and singing, the choir gave an African imprint to the conference being held on African soil for the second time in the council’s 150-year history.
“They are inspirational, and they sing with the African soul,” said Rita Wong, a delegate from the Methodist Church of Hong Kong. “Their music is harmonious, and as I have the expectation of meeting people from different parts of the world, I truly believe this choir will bring us together. Their music is also symbolic to me as we meet in Africa and pray for peace and hope for this continent.”
The choir sings in more than 18 African languages — a representation of the pan-African nature of the United Methodist-related Africa University.
A founding staff member of Africa University‘s Faculty of Theology, the Rev. Paul Chilcote was bereft of words at the choir’s performance. “I am thrilled and amazed at the extent of the growth of the Africa University Choir,” he said. “Its phenomenal growth has been in line with the growth of the pan-African institution that is Africa University.”
Chilcote noted that at the time of the university’s inception almost 20 years ago, there were only six nationalities represented on campus. Currently, the campus includes students from 29 African nations, including the newly formed state of Southern Sudan.
“We started the choir in our living room, back in Zimbabwe,” said Chilcote. “We had five to six students.” Chilcote said he never doubted the choir would grow.
Arlyce Schiebert, a council member from the United Church of Canada, said, “The harmony is wonderful, the choir is enthusiastic and it seems they are singing from the heart. I have always enjoyed African songs. The rhythm always tells me what the songs mean.”
Schiebert said music is a strong part of Methodist ministry. “Music continues to inspire, not only the indigenous people of Africa, but other people from across the world as well, and that is what the choir has done for us.”
The Africa University choir has taken a central place in spreading the word on the mission and impact of Africa University. The choir has toured North America, Europe and southern Africa. It also has performed at significant Methodist gatherings such as the Global Young People’s Convocation in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2006.
The choir, directed by Tendekai Kuture, continues to perform at the World Methodist Conference. The choir is scheduled to perform at a mini-concert organized by Africa University on Aug. 5.
Professor Fanuel Tagwira, vice chancellor of Africa University; Dr. James Salley, associate vice chancellor; and University senior administrators are present at the event.
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--story by Sharai Nondo, Public Affairs Office at Africa University.
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