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Watoto Children’s Choir visits Rhodes

Date Released: Wed, 4 May 2011 14:55 +0200

The Watoto Children’s Choir of Uganda treated members of the local community to an uplifting concert on Freedom Day, hosted by Rhodes, as part of their six-month tour of South Africa.

Contagious African rhythms and perfectly synchronised dance moves brought the Great Hall alive last week as the 22 children gave their all in their hour-long show. Backed by recorded instrumentals and live drumming, the children set the stage alight with renditions of “Mambo Sawa, Life is good” and “I am not forgotten, God knows my name”.

Deriving its name from the Swahili word for “children”, Watoto started as an initiative by the Watoto Church in Kampala, 17 years ago, with the establishment of the Watoto Children’s Ministries. Watoto now comprises four children’s villages, three babies’ homes, two primary schools, a high school and a vocational school. The Watoto Children’s Choirs have grown from strength to strength, with a total of 47 choirs which tour the world and numerous album releases. 

The choir comprises children who have lost one or both parents to Aids or war, and provides the children with a home and the chance to go to school. As 10-year-old Ronald Kizza told the audience, after losing both his parents to Aids he found solace and encouragement with Watoto. “After my parents died I had to live with my grandmother, who struggled to put me through school. One day a Watoto social worker came to visit us. I am thankful to Jesus who promised never to leave nor forsake me. Now I know that I am not forgotten!”

The highlight of their performance was Hakuna Wakaita SaYesu (There’s no one else like Jesus), which got the crowd dancing and singing along. The infectious rhythms of the African contemporary gospel style and their brightly coloured outfits made for a warming display on an otherwise chilly Freedom Day.

The choir’s six-month tour of South Africa, which began in February, is aimed at creating awareness and raising funds for a project to establish Watoto Villages in South Africa.

Story and photo by Sarah-Jane Bradfield

Photo: The Watoto Children’s Choir of Uganda