Warm Blue Mountains welcome for African choir

A buzz is building in the Mountains as the African Children’s Choir prepares to return for concerts starring Ubuntu, talented high school graduates from Uganda and Kenya.

The charity’s leader in Uganda, Abraham Kiyingi, is thrilled about coming back from May 27 to June 3.

“We from Africa have it hot so visiting the Blue Mountains allows us to experience winter,” he said. “However we feel the cold, it’s the warm hospitality, the smiles and the hugs of the people of the Blue Mountains that keep us coming back.”

Inspired by the dynamic shows and the open-heartedness of the first Ubuntu troupe in 2016, Springwood High principal Mark Howie was excited to host this year’s performers, too.

“A core focus that we have at Springwood High is for our students to mindfully approach their personal growth and development with a powerful sense of the positive contribution they can make to the local community, the nation and the world,” Dr Howie said.

“The Ubuntu visit brings great joy and an uplifting sense of humanity to our community and the lives and experiences of our students.”

The members of Ubuntu toured overseas with African Children’s Choir troupes when they were 10 to 12 years old. They have finished high school and — like many young Australians — are using the gap year between school and university to travel and learn first hand about other cultures.

Julian Ochieng, a Kenyan woman who aims to become a journalist, is thrilled about the visit.

“I’ve heard so many beautiful things about Australia’s natural beauty and wonderful people,” she said. “I cannot wait to see all that and be a blessing to every individual that will cross my path.”

Concert tours and donations to the choir fund the education of children from extremely poor families in Uganda, Kenya and elsewhere in Africa from primary school to university. It helps them free themselves from poverty, support their families and become community leaders.

Patience Nalugo, a 19-year old from Uganda, toured with the 31st African Children’s Choir in 2006.

“I’m thankful that as a child I got to see a bigger world than the small village in which I had been born,” she said. “Not many children in Uganda get such an opportunity. Most of them grow up knowing nothing beyond their small village.” 

Ubuntu’s public concerts will be at Katoomba High with the school’s choir and Crowd Around choir on Thursday, May 31; at Springwood High School with The Mudlarks women’s choir on Friday, June 1; and at Wycliffe Christian School, Warrimoo, with the school’s choir and Hands Heart & Feet on Saturday, June 2. All concerts start at 7.30pm. Book tickets at www.kwaya.org.