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Nakuru County choir: Singing for the nation

Nakuru county choir perform at Afraha Stadium during Madaraka Day celebrations on June 1, 2019. [Kennedy Gachuhi, Standard]

When they take to the stage, they do it with lots of humility but when asked to perform, they do it with lots of passion and precision while sending congregations to their feet.

Wherever they were invited to perform, their style of entertaining guests was special in a way that always thrilled the masses.

It has made them a centre of attraction in warming the hearts of dignitaries on special occasions, a feat that has earned them regular invitations to prominent public functions for the past two decades.

This is the Nakuru County Choir that has been in existence for the past three decades.

They have entertained different sizes of audiences on different occasions including in churches, wedding ceremonies, political gatherings, State functions, national music competitions and sports championships.

And wherever they went, they have not disappointed and it is the reason the choir has landed special invitations to perform in special forums that have always attracted top dignitaries in political and state functions.

“We always get it right and have always had a dedication in our work. Thus, whatever we do officially or unofficially in training sessions has always ended up well when preparing for these activities,” said the choir’s Technical Director Philemon Ogolla.

Ogolla, who has been at the helm of the group for the past one and half decades said the choir’s members have performed for the last three heads of State - Presidents Daniel Arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta.

“We do our work with the seriousness it deserves and all our members know what is expected of them in training and official assignments. This is why we deliver on what is expected of us,” he said.

Ogolla is one of the most respected choirmasters in the Rift region, having been mentored by Mwalimu Thomas Wasonga of the Nyayo Mass Choir.

Wasonga, who is in the class of former Muungano National Choir director the late Boniface Muganga in composing patriotic songs during the late President Moi’s administration is reputed for Tushaingilie Kenya and Kenya Tunayoipenda songs, among the many numbers he composed during the Nyayo Era.

And Ogolla, who also passed through the hands of former Nakuru High School tutor and expert, the late Paul Hongo has not disappointed.

Some of the patriotic songs written by him (Ogolla) that propelled his career to the hall of fame are Tuizuru Nchi Yetu with several cultural songs besides Tunajivunia Nchi Yetu by Arthur Kemoli.

“We dwell on our original songs, which are always sung on auspicious occasions but at times we also do replay songs by others, like the Kemoli’s Tunajivunia Nchi Yetu. However, the best works lie in the original copies,” he said.

Annually, they participate in the Kenya Cultural Music Festivals and in the Kenya Inter Counties Sports and Cultural Association games, where they have won lots of accolades and Ogolla is proud of these achievements.

“These achievements have not come by accident as we have worked for them. This is why we are proud of the levels we have come from as a choir,” he said.

The choir is affiliated with Parastatals, Ministries, Companies, Counties and Choirs Organization (PAMICCCO) and her members feature in mass activities of this organisation.

“PAMICCCO is also a forum that allows our members to mix with other experienced singers from different parts of the republic, thereby giving our members a chance to horn their skills,” said Ogolla.

Last week, the choir was among those invited to perform at the World Tourism Day at Nyayo Gardens in Nakuru City.

The choir was formed in the eighties by former Municipal Council of Nakuru Music Advisor Paul Kibango, who has since retired from public service.

Then, the choir was synonymous with set pieces, patriotic and topical songs, sacred music and religious songs; a legacy that has been propelled by Ogolla up to date.

And Ogolla’s work has not gone to the doldrums, as some of his set pieces have found their way into the National Schools Music Festivals and Kenya National Cultural Music Festivals for the past decade.

“It comes with a prize to find your work being appreciated by relevant authorities,” he said.