The Words of the Otsuka Family

African Choir Competition

Katsumi Otsuka
January 2014
FFWPU Regional President of Africa

As we all know well, music is a universal language and goes beyond any border. Music and song have been playing very important roles in most religious activities in the world. Holy songs to glorify God and salvation by Christ are crucial in Christian faith.

Traveling around the African region, I came to realize the African people's high musical and dance ability. In any Sunday Service, in spite of poor musical instruments, they sing Holy Songs joyfully with just an African drum. Particularly, those in the second-generation sing beautifully. So, we decided to organize the FFWPU Church Choir Group Competition for Africa to commemorate the first anniversary of True Father's Seonghwa. The competition had certain requirements. A choir had to have at least five choristers. A nation could have as many as three choirs in the competition. For example, one of first-generation members, one of second-generation members and a group from one city's church. They had to sing three songs; one had to be one of our holy songs. The other two could be a traditional folk song or pop song. For the holy song, singing in Korean was highly recommended. By September 30, each choir had to submit a video of about 10-minute length. The judging was completed by October 7.

The choir from Cabinda, Angola, that competed in the first African Choir Group Competition

Of course, a major criteria was the quality of singing, but the spirit with which songs were sung was also evaluated creativity invested in the dancing, costumes and other areas were also factors. The prize music will be announced soon.

Fifteen choirs from thirteen nations competed. An international vice-president of FFWPU, Thomas Hwang; the leader of the SunHak choirs in Japan; a professional singer; and I comprised the panel of judges. The judges were unanimous in our surprise at the African cultural uniqueness and singing capabilities.

Overall, the choirs presented several original compositions. A choir of first-generation members from the Democratic Republic of the Congo sang, "This is True Parents," highlighting their achievements through song and dance. A choir of second-generation members from Angola created "Sun Myung Moon." Another unique song from Angola was "The Eternal Love," in which they sang, "True Parents triumphed over Satan and evil, so we do not have to be with Satan anymore -- bye, bye." The power of the choir group from Cote d'Ivoire was astonishing.

The choir of first-generation members from the Democratic Republic of the Congo won the gold medal. The silver went to the local Cabinda church choir in Angola. The second-generation members' choir from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (pictured above) won the bronze medal. The Burundi group won a special award and Kenya won the award for the best holy song. Cote d'Ivoire was recognized for its good performance and Liberia for its good effort.

The competition became a very good occasion to encourage all nations to form choirs. Coming to the realization that even deep in the African jungle members are offering bows to photographs of True Parents is impressive. These members sing accompanied by a single African drum to glorify True Parents' victories.

Of course, in various ways, improvements need to be made in order to make their singing and presentations more sophisticated. They have a long way to go to catch up with Korean Japanese choir groups, but they hold a great hope in common: to someday stand in front of True Parents and offer their songs in person. The African choir groups' investments will never end until their dream comes true.

Hu Wang Futila

A Voice from Angel's Heart

My name is Hu Wang Futila. I am a second-generation member in the DR Congo and a member of the choir called Angel's Heart (pictured below). The choir chose me to describe our experience during the choir tournament.

We received an invitation to compete in the tournament at an inconvenient moment. We were preparing to return to school, because 99.9 percent of our singers are high school students.

More important to us than winning a trophy was honoring True Father's memory by participating, because the tournament was connected to the first anniversary of our True Father's ascension to the spiritual world. The tournament was an opportunity for us to thank our True Father. With that motivation, we made many sacrifices like staying up all night. We recorded songs between 11:00 PM and 3:00 AM though were supposed to leave for school by 6:00 AM.

We also had to raise funds and ask for donations to find some cash for uniforms. It was tough, but motivated by a desire to express gratitude to True Father, we were determined and thus overcame all those difficult obstacles.

At the same time, it was a good experience and we were so happy that we could not even sleep. It was like that for a full week.

In the end, we won third prize, but most important for us was that we offered our hearts and love to the True Parents through the tournament. All the members of Angel's Heart thank our Heavenly Parent, the True Parents and the regional president for this opportunity, and we wish that God blesses all readers in 2014. 

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