Wuerzburg Gospel Choir Sings in Mwanza

Visit to Mwanza from Oct 30 to Nov 4, 2009

Bilder zur Mwanza-Tournee VOICES 2009 (dt)

Music Bridges The Gap

A performance in Africa is a dream for many European musicians. What even professionals are dreaming of, the Wuerzburg gospel choir ”voices” managed: In November 2009 they gave a guest performance in Mwanza i.e. Wuerzburg’s twintown. The 28 members of the choir returned home full of new impressions.

A few suffered from painful diseases, but most of the singers enjoyed their stay, at the most the crowded timetable made them suffer a bit.

The official programme did not only come along with several performances, but also with visits of social institutions and meetings with the town’s officials.

Big Open Air Concert

After getting accustomed during the first day they got down to business, told Rudolf Schlegelmilch, the choir’s manager who was favourably impressed as well as the members of the choir were.

In the presence of Leonard Bihondo, Lord Mayor of Mwanza, “Voices” sang together with the Mwanza Town Choir on the occasion of the symbolic handover of one school desk to show the result of a recent Wuerzburg fund-raising campaign for 1000 school benches.

Although there were some minor communication problems “Voices” managed to organize the presentation. They sang by turns with two excellent local church choirs, singing alternatively in English and Suaheli.

After the singers had used a free morning to look around in Mwanza, the musical highlight of the voyage took place. In the Montessori School guided by the Swiss Sister Denise Mattle in the great hall for up to 1000 people a choir concert was announced. 600 to 700 pupils had assembled punctually (which is rather unusual for Africans). Several times pupils consorted with “Voices” onstage to sing and drum together with their guests, reported Schlegelmilch. Benjamin Mgonzwa who originates from Mwanza and had already played with “Voices” in Wuerzburg mixed in the show on stage, too. “The children participated enthusiastically and everybody was in high spirits”, told the manager of the choir. The very emotional event brought a few people to their psycologic limit and in the end even some tears were shed.

Less emotional was a reception held by the Mwanza Lord Mayor the following day. Mr. Bihondo, a friendly and eloquent man, invited the guests from Mwanza’s twin city into his office. After that a visit to Bujora Cultural Centre presenting the culture of Mwanza’s biggest ethnic group Sukuma was on the program. The dance and drum ensemble of this museum appeared and “Voices” performed a short intermezzo.

Invitation for Food

Near the museum is Kisesa, the village of Benjamin Mgonzwa. To this place the singer invited his German friends for food and soon “half of the village arrived”, Schlegelmilch remembers. And of course everybody sang and drummed and danced again.

Then came the time to say goodbye to Mwanza. Afterwards the Wuerzburgers made a safari through the adjacent Serengeti National Park. Then they went back to the November-cold Wuerzburg.

Rolf Schlegelmilch draws the balance of the safari: ”This was a widening of their horizon and a great experience for the group”. Thanks to the extraordinary care and good contacts of the head of MWANZA e.V, Michael Stolz who mentored the group, they gained much more insight into the African everyday life than normal tourists do. And it proved true again that in a foreign country or even continent with the help of the international language of music it is possible to understand each other without knowing the local language or culture.

Author: Karl-Georg Rötter, journalist