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Artists champion peace drive ahead of Kenya’s August elections

By George Orido | Published Sun, April 9th 2017 at 15:06, Updated April 9th 2017 at 15:08 GMT +3
Maestro Ken Wakia conducts members of the Nairobi Chambers Chorale perform Ukuthula at the U.S Ambassador's Residence in Gigiri, where a documentary on peace will be launched this week. PHOTO BY GEORGE ORIDO Close

Artists are championing a peace campaign through a documentary to ensure relative tranquillity after the August 8 elections.

Ken Wakia, Bud Simson and Dr Kevin Fenton of Festival Singers of Florida, are spreading the message of peace through a 45-minute documentary titled, A Voice For Peace.

The documentary is based on the international peace day celebrated by having choirs across the globe singing Zulu Ukuthula.

“Ukuthula kulo mhlaba wezono (Aleluya) igazi lika Jesu linyenyez’ ukuthula,”
(Peace in this world of sin, the blood of Jesus brings peace), goes the song. Other than Ukhuthula there are other songs including Baba Yetu, Kayuocha, Ashe Naleng’ among others.

But it is the idea to have this in a documentary shot by Simpson with locations in Maasai Mara, the US and other parts of the world that makes it unique.

“Kenya has been a force of peace and stability but it also has different challenges,” says Ambassador Robert Godec in the documentary. Godec warns that competition between different ethnic groups is a recipe for chaos citing the 2007\08 post election violence.

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Participants in the documentary say music is a unique way to keep the peace among people. “I was taught how to sing by my mother and I have realised the power of music in spreading the peace gospel among nations,” says Maureen Obadha , a member of the Nairobi Chamber Chorus whose soprano solo is the signature of Ukhuthula song in Kenya.

In the documentary launched on Tuesday, Ms Obadha asks Kenyans to be like the wild animals that have the greatest ensemble ever and live together in harmony in nature.

“When you wake up in the morning here in the Mara you hear a lion roaring, the hyena laughing and the birds chirping in a sequential harmony,” she observes.

Yet the most touching part of the documentary is at Kakuma refugee camp where Mr Wakia who is a renown choral music conductor and the founder of the Nairobi Chamber Chorus has a time with the refugees from South Sudan to sing Ukuthula.

He asks the refugees what the word peace means and they say stability, joy and love.

“Every human is the same at heart. The answers are exactly what I will get anywhere in the world,” he says.

One of the South Sudan refugees, Theresa says Kakuma is a peaceful place and for them it is a home not a camp.

“Whatever brings us here is violence and lack of peace back home. When I sing Ukuthula it empowers me to sing and give a voice to spread thee message of peace,” says another refugee Okello.

United Nations High Commission for Refugees Country Representative, Raof Mazou notes that when ever you hear a song from another community there is always a positive effect to it.

Joining the global voices championing peace in the documentary are the pupils from Magoso Primary School in Kibera, Nairobi. It is their music that gives credence to Amb Godec’s words in the documentary, “If we see what goes on in the world we need music now than ever before. I have never thought of a better way to heal the World except through music.”

The envoy says when all of us look across the world we see the reality of violence, the hurt, the suffering and it's form in different things.

"It's from war, from terrorism. Music is an international language and is a language of the heart and the soul. It can build bridges," he says. The documentary was launched this week at the US Embassy.