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The band visited Kenya

April 2009

It was indeed with a sense of adventure that a group of 30 bandsmen and wives from the Central Southern Area Fellowship (CSAF) Band set off on a 12 day visit to the Kenya East Territory, arranged by Divisional Envoy/Bandmaster Kenneth Clark (Woking) and The Kenya Trust, in conjunction with a Music Leaders` Training Seminar.

Upon arrival there was an official reception and welcome at the new Territorial Headquarters in Karen, Nairobi, hosted by the Territorial Commander Commissioner Hezekiel Anzeze and the Secretary for Programme Lt. Colonel Sarah Wanyama. Time was later spent with the Chief Secretary Colonel Kenneth Hodder.

There were visits to Joytown Primary School and Thika High School for the Blind where the welcome was overwhelming. The children`s choir of mixed voices sang beautifully in distinctive Kenyan harmonies. A visit to Kibera slum township, where the Army has a Corps of 600 soldiers, a Community Centre and a Nursery School, was an emotional and uplifting experience.

At Joytown, Thika and Kibera, The Kenya Trust has undertaken considerable work and investment during the last 10 years, notably financing the building of classrooms and toilets, renovating pathways and providing mosquito nets, special desks to receive Braille machines, teaching materials, blankets, children`s clothes and toys.

A partnership programme and joint rehearsal took place between the CSAF and Quarry Road Bands and later the same day there was a united rehearsal with the CSAF Band and the Kenya East Territorial Band, whose rehearsal base is in the Quarry Road compound.

Quarry Road Corps, in the heart of old Nairobi, has a soldiership in excess of 1,200 and is a thriving centre of worship and musical excellence - band and songsters, contemporary music groups, a massive home league (senior and junior), timbrelists, gospel dance, a variety of prayer cell groups of all ages and outreach teams.

Sunday worship at Kabete Corps began with breakfast in the officer`s garden, followed by a united march and open-air witness where large crowds gathered.

At Kabete there are more than 800 members and a packed meeting, featuring the Kenyan singing and dancing groups, was joyous and noisy in praise and singing. The Band played a number of items, including the appropriate cornet trio `The Veterans`. Executive Officer Major Fred Thompson gave the Bible Address.

In contrast to the busy Army schedule, a relaxing 5 day Safari was enjoyed to Naivasha, Nakuru National Park and the Great Rift Valley.

Meanwhile, 30 representative musicians from Kenya were engaged in a Music Leaders` Training Seminar, led by Ken and Hilton and Lilian Baker (Bristol Easton Corps) and members of the Kenyan Music Team.

This is a regular feature of the Kenyan Music Programme and is designed for bandmasters, songster leaders, deputies, potential leaders and top Territorial Music School students. Subjects include Bible Study, Theory of Music, Leadership, Communication, Keyboard and Piano Skills, Guitar Playing, Choral and Band Training, Conducting, Instrumental Playing, Score Reading, Managing Musical Forces and Group Dynamics. It is not surprising that from such a large pool of talent, quality leaders are discovered and are proving their efficiency.

The final weekend of the time in Kenya was spent at Nairobi Central, the largest Salvation Army church in the world. Worship started at 8.30am with a `Morning Glory` service. Later the Nairobi Central Band headed the march to the open-air meeting, followed by the CSAF Band and about 100 Salvationists. However, more than twice that number followed the band back to the hall, where over 2,000 people were already assembled.

The Holiness meeting lasted two and a half hours, which is normal. There was every conceivable form of worship, each contributing to a tremendous climax when at least 150 people knelt prayerfully at the Mercy Seat - again, quite normal. After lunch there was a concert by the Kenya East Territorial Songsters and the CSAF Band. The songsters were outstanding, singing a capella, and accompanied African-style by rhythmic percussion and with a unique joyousness. It was a thrilling conclusion to a successful visit.

Twenty two instruments, music stands and tune books were donated to the Territory, many of which went to Kibera Corps Band. In the words of Bandmaster Brian Cooper, `It was the least we could do. We have been overwhelmed by the Christian love, friendship and kindness of everyone and have enjoyed the experience of a lifetime`.

Report by Kenneth Clark, Woking Salvation Army Community Church