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Mozambican Choir Contest

Rebecca Vander Meulen
Lichinga, Mozambique
30 November 2006

Greetings from Mozambique, where we’re plugging away.  I apologize for not having taken time off lately in order to send an update.  Here’s a quick, informal update. In a couple of hours, I’m heading out to celebrate World AIDS Day in Cobue. I’ll be traveling in a rented lorry, accompanying three sacks of cabbages (food for the 470 expected participants), t-shirts (which proclaim that in Christ there’s no difference between positive and negative), and 45 bicycles (to support the HIV teams that, until now, have been walking for hours to visit neighboring villages). We managed to send the corn for World AIDS Day up a few weeks ago, so that it could be milled in time for tomorrow’s festivities. (Apparently, however, the activists who went to the Malawian island of Likoma to mill the corn had to spend at least one unplanned night on the island before the winds changed direction and propelled the boat’s patched-together sail back towards Mozambique.)

Our churches don’t generally have Sunday schools or youth clubs. We lack the resources, and more importantly we lack the training and experience necessary to lead such activities. But one thing every one of our congregations has is a vibrant choir.  Most choir members are youth, and choirs rehearse their songs for hours each week.  Despite all this practicing, the repertoire of most choirs is quite small.  Songs get sung over, and over, and over, and over.  Especially the songs that have earned international fame by being recorded on video by dancing Tanzanians (or floating Malawians, imposed over computer generated clouds).

So for World AIDS Day this year, my colleagues and I decided to host four large choir competitions, featuring songs specifically about HIV, specifically written by the choirs themselves for this event.  We expect about 1200 choir members to be singing their songs on Friday, and we hope to record the best in 2007. Our aim is that some of these HIV-themed songs become as widespread and well-known as other songs our choirs sing (and that their words are believed and put into action).  We’ll see!  I’ll let you know when the CDs are available!


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