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Bunge Fellowship Choir’s blunders and successes at National Prayer Breakfast

On June 7, 2023, a number of Kenyan politicians gathered to form a choir and perform at the National Prayer Breakfast held at the Safari Park Hotel on Thika Road in Nairobi. The theme of the prayer breakfast was ‘Reconciliation’.

The choir included both Azimio and Kenya Kwanza allied politicians such as Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris, South Mugirango MP Silvanus Osoro, MP Beatrice Elachi, Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana and Nyandarua Woman Representative Faith Gitau among others.

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Dressed in black skirts and trousers paired with white shirts and red ties and scarves, the 18 politicians walked – in a line – to the stage where they arranged themselves in a way they felt would best harmonise their voices for their musical performances.

Calling themselves The Bunge Fellowship Choir, Silvanus Osoro revealed that they practice every Wednesday and plan to invite all parliamentarians who are gifted with great singing voices to join them.

Before their performance began, Honourable Osoro had difficulty getting the band to work together and could be heard arguing with one of them, the guitarist, whose guitar was not working before it was tweaked and they were finally able to start their performance after about seven minutes.

Finally, Senator Mungatana stepped forward to conduct the choir. His conducting seemed to consist of simply rocking from left to right and waving his hands in front of him to direct the singers.

Their first song was a fast-paced, modified version of the hymn Amazing Grace, in which one of the MPs sang completely off-key – and she was the only one with a microphone in her hand, while the other microphones were strategically placed in front of the other singers.

Silvanus Osoro later realised that there were differences in tone, but they were all still practising.

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He went on to invite dozens of other parliamentarians to join them on stage as part of the larger choir; and they would be led by the Honourable Faith Gitau. Without any pre-planned organisation, all the parliamentarians crowded noisily onto the stage to sing the Hakuna Mungu Kama Wewe worship song loudly and tunelessly, almost in a droning voice.

Honourable Gitau did not make it easy for all the voices to harmonise and match hers, and at one point some leaders with microphones could be heard singing other words than those intended by Faith Gitau.

The Honourable Osoro also played different piano keys, throwing the whole performance into disarray – and telling his colleagues to come to practice next time.

The keynote speaker, Lord Michael Hastings, a renowned professor, theologian and career executive in various multinational companies around the world, later congratulated the Bunge Choir, saying they had improved in their singing compared to previous years.

“Can I also congratulate the choir on an improvement, may I say a marginal improvement? If I said an outstanding one, I’d be lying, but at least a marginal improvement. And may I suggest that you go for Kenya’s got talent and aim for at least a decade together. So… it’s a wonderful thing when parliamentarians sing. Let it inform your decision-making,” said Lord Hastings.

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