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Biblical teachings and cultural dance fire up music festival

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Kenya Navy Primary celebrate retaining their title after winning their class with a Borana folk sons Kenya National Music Festival. (Michael Mute, Standard)

Pupils from Primary Schools across the country yesterday added some spice to the Kenya National Music Festival. They wooed the crowds with music and dance advocating biblical teachings and the nation’s cultural heritage.

Being a Sunday and a day of worship, Gilwadzi Primary School from Vihiga County reminded thousands of students at Kisumu Boys High School of the teachings from Psalms 23: “In life or in death — in times of plenty or want — God is good and worthy of our trust.”

The book of Psalms uses the metaphor of a shepherd’s care for his sheep to describe the wisdom, strength and kindness of our God.

“The Lord is my Shepherd everybody. The Lord is my Shepherd. He goes before me. Defender behind me. I won’t fear. I’m filled with anointing. My cup’s overflowing. No weapon can harm me. I won’t fear. Hallelujah, I am not alone,” sang Gilwadzi pupils.

However, it was Olando Primary School from Homa Bay County that caught the eye of the adjudicators, Bibiana Gicheru and Dr Mukasa Wafula after being crowned the winners of the Own Choice of Sacred Music, Male Voices category.

Olando sang ‘And the Glory of the Lord’ derived from the book of Isaiah with powerful low and high tones that mesmerized the crowd.

The judges obliged by awarding them the trophy.

Speaking after their victory, Olando Music teacher Elijah Oketch Suna said his 27 years’ experience teaching music propelled them to win. He advocated for more schools from Nyanza and Western regions to introduce music to the lower Primary levels.

Oketch said they worked hard to get to the top after finishing second during the 2019 nationals held in Kabarnet.

“I am proud that my students have shown Kenyans that they can sing. They have demystified the myth that it is only private academies with big financial muscles that can do better in music. We are a testimony of a lower grade school with fewer facilities thriving in music,” said Oketch.

“My advice to other primary schools who are in our rural villages, take up music because you never know about tomorrow. Music is an art and it teaches discipline and important values that can help learners do well academically too.”

In Africa Folk Songs from Somali, Borana, Nubian and Orma for Primary School categories, Kenya Navy Primary School from Mombasa got the attention of the adjudicators with their vocal variation and facial expression to be declared winners.

Trained by Sergeant Amina Said of the Kenya Navy, the Mtongwe-based Primary School played Jaljilo, a folk song from the Borana Community.

Nairobi Primary School, on the other hand, dethroned Rabuor Primary School from Kisumu after winning the Western Traditional Cultural Group Dances category.

Rabuor had won the category a record seven times including the last two editions in 2018 and 2019, before Nairobi Primary’s win yesterday.

It was, however, hard to separate them as Rabuor had 89 points and Nairobi 90 points.

Adjudicators Gicheru advised schools that were majorly performing the German and Scottish cultural dances to invest in costumes and teach their dancers how to visualize and show the chemistry between female and male dancers.

“We need to take seriously the character identification of our dancers on stage. Implement these by improving on the costume which helps in presentation and distinguishing the cultures you are portraying.”

“Take keynote of change of movement, formations, beauty and movement of the body, legs and lifting because those are the key areas judges will grade you on,” advised Gicheru from Tumutumu Girls.

Rabuor Primary Music teacher Sarah Masiga said she was proud despite coming second after performing the German Polka dance.

“We danced our hearts out. It was evident we are the winners after the cheering and standing ovation we received in the hall. It’s a pity we lost, but I am proud of my young pupils who entertained everyone,” said Masiga.

Running under the theme, Kenya My Pride My Future, the event seeks to celebrate some of the unique things about the country.

Peter Wanjohi, the chair of the festivals, said the festival will play a crucial role in helping develop the talent of the young learners and assured parents that it was the best step for the children.

Other winners on the second day include BuBuBuu Primary from Coast, who took home the top award in the Africa Traditional Cultural Group dances from the Akambaa, Mbeere and Tharaka categories.

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