With Viva Africa UNILAG Choir Preaches Peace Across Africa

Omiko Awa, Nigerian Guardian/UTI

The University of Lagos (UNILAG) choral concert will continue to be a delight, as organisers up their ante in each edition, showcasing A-list stars in Nigeria’s entertainment industry and providing platform for upcoming artistes to hone their skills.

The event, which brought the students and their lecturers together to enjoy different genres of music, witnessed the array of artistes present songs that cut across the African continent, beginning from Nigeria to the Republic of South Africa. The concert preached love and unity, highlighting the importance these two ingredients to the continent.

Unilag Viva-Africa

Tagged Africa Sings, Viva Africa, the chorale concert had just one denomination — love for either good music or for Africa. The superlative performance of the artistes in terms of stagecraft, music composition and lyrics show that the Director of Programme, Dr. Albert Oikelome, and others that worked behind the scene must have sacrificed their sleep to make the show what it was.

However, going by the standard already set, the October 3 event took a new hue, taking gate fees to raise fund for the Department of Creative Arts studios and also bringing in secondary and primary school students to play delicate musical instruments. These young ones no doubt were part of the delights of the evening.

Why is this year’s chorale coming in another form? “We just wanted to celebrate Africa and in doing this we took a few countries to represent the whole Africa. And no matter what is happening in the continent, we still believe we shall come out of it stronger and better. We need love, peace and unity to move the continent forward,” Oikelome said.

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Unilag Auditorium

As a way of making children embrace chorale music, the academic disclosed that organisers of the concert have to include primary and secondary school students of some private schools in Lagos, where music is taught to play and sing. According to the don, the exposure will not only motivate the young learners to do more, but will help prepare them for the future.

He said: “We want to make it a process because children and young people should be encouraged into chorale music and the best way to do it, is now that they are still in the primary and secondary school and still young to learn. Again, they love to watch what others do, so that they can also do them. We want to make chorale music a norm and that was what informed our decision.”

The students in their uniform and different musical instruments electrified the audience, playing diverse songs and drawing loud applauses.
Oikelome disclosed that it is easier for people at their age bracket to sing than play musical instruments, adding that they should be given the necessary encouragement to hone their skills and perform better.

Is playing music and musical instruments really good for the child? The music teacher answered in the affirmative, adding that psychological and other scientific research have shown that when a child is brought up with a specific music experience he or she is bound to have a high intelligent quotient. He disclosed that playing musical instruments have a way of boosting the child’s performances in school and other aspects of life.

Aside from adding children to the event, some of the past students of the department, including Waje, Helen Paul, Ambassador Wole Oni, among others who are making headways in their different fields were honored. Sir Emeka Nwokedi of the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) was one of the honorees.

Why the awards? “It is to show that the lecturers have not laboured in vein and a lot of people who passed from us are doing very well in and outside the school, and those not into music are also doing very well in their fields. The award is one of the ways to encourage them to do more and to let them know that they are being noticed even though its been long they left school,” Oikelome said.

Thinking that the audience that filled the JF Ade Ajayi Hall, venue of the concert, to its capacity were all from UNILAG, the lecture said it is not totally true, adding that a good number of people came from outside the campus.

According to him, audience from outside the campus are even more because of the mechanism put in place to drive the concert, so, everyone in the team put in his or her best to make the event work. He noted that the October 3 event was the first time the concert has collected gate fees because the department needed fund to get its musical instrument and do other things in its studios. He revealed that next year’s show would be for free.

“We shall go back to making it free next year, but when you have done a programme for about nine years, and won loyalists on Instagram, Facebook and all the social media platforms it would not be out of place to take gate fees on the programme,” he said.

The senior lecturer in the department revealed that the school choir has been going to other universities to perform and has also been coming home with laurels, just as other schools’ choirs have been coming to share the stage with them in UNILAG. “The school’s choir have been performing in concerts within and outside the campus and sometimes outside Lagos State and have been winning laurels. We also honour invitations from other universities, just as they honour ours.“ Although, we have not got to the level of going international, we are actually doing well. I wish we could do more with our performance, go much higher than where we are now and feature in different concerts across the African continent and the globe,” he said.

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