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Nairobi choir performs for civil rights icon Jesses Jackson in Chicago

A Nairobi girls choral group over the weekend performed for civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson in Chicago.

The group was the guest choir at the Rainbow/Push (People United to Serve Humanity), a non-profit organization headed by Reverend Jackson which held its forum on Saturday morning.

The girls, aged between 18 and 24, received a dose of Kenyan history from Reverend Jackson’s son, Jonathan Luther Jackson, who drew parallels on the  social-economic inequalities in present day Chicago and Kenya’s colonial era.

In his speech, Mr Jackson Junior referenced former President Jomo Kenyatta multiple times, one of which he quoted a statement Kenyatta supposedly made in regard to the colonialists.

“Jomo Kenyatta, the founding President of the new Kenya –  and it warms my heart to hear these young ladies –  he said that when the British came to Kenya, they taught us how to pray, they taught us to close our eyes, the missionaries came and gave us Bibles,” said Jackson Junior. “By the time we opened our eyes, we had the bible, they had all of our land.”

He told the forum that he was inspired by what the Kenyans girls represent which is the opposite of Chicago’s students.

Reverend Jesse Jackson addressing the forum on June 04, 2016. PHOTO | ANTHONY KARANJA
Reverend Jesse Jackson addressing the forum on June 04, 2016. PHOTO | ANTHONY KARANJA

“What did you hear from the young girls and young ladies from Nairobi?” he asked the congregation.

“They come from a culture and a school that is alive. We should have arts in the school, we should have music in the school, we should have humanity in the school.”

Reverend Jesse Jackson offered a heavy dose of civil rights era history as well as commenting on the current political climate in US. He also paid tribute to the late Muhammad Ali as the girls sat behind him.

The civil rights icon at some point posed for photos with the girls who were seated on the stage.

The girls group’s director Mr David Isindu said that the group is seeking sponsorship to build a talent academy in Nairobi’s Eastlands.

“I am a teacher by profession, and I am inspired to work with the girls because they are not looking for a hand out, but an opportunity to uplift others with their voices and the hope of fundraising for their college careers,” Mr Isindu.

They head back to Nairobi at the end of the week.