By George Orido
In 2010 there was a lot of excitement about Africa’s hosting the biggest sports event in the world for the first time and to make it distinctly the African World Cup, the Vuvuzela was a dominant feature at the venue, South Africa.
Although the West so loathed the horn-like instrument that they banned it in their land, it has remained a fixture in many competitions in Africa — as well as at parties.
As the preparation for the world’s greatest football bonanza was on top gear, young Joseph Kyalo also came up with an idea of his ‘World Cup’.
Having no TV at home and dreading missing the fun at the competition, Kyalo and his friends decided to steal and broke into a neighbour’s house in Njiru and took a new TV set, solar panel and other household effects.
This action would be the beginning of a long journey to the gallows of Borstal,a facility for juveniles at the Shimo la Tewa Prison, after being arrested and found guilty before a court of law.
Today, Kyalo has put that incident behind him and has discovered a better talent — his creativity. He is part of an exciting group of inmates, the Borstal Juvenile Prison School Choir, which is stealing the limelight at the ongoing Kenya Music Festivals in Meru.
When the choir performed in Class 213C with their piece, Wasia wa Wazazi, a composition by Hoberty Kyangangu and directed by their teacher George Gitonga, the audience gave them a standing ovation. They won a trophy for their splendid performance.
In the Kiswahili song, the boys talk of their repentance and seek forgiveness from all they had wronged.
They also say that their experiences so far have taught them that those who do not listen to parents will be truly punished by the world, which they captured in their lyrics: “Kweli asiyefunzwa na mamaye hufunzwa na ulimwengu.”
Some of the boys are currently in primary school while others are doing vocational courses such as masonry, carpentry and horticulture training, among other beneficial courses.
Kevin Njuguna, who was found guilty of stealing Sh10,000 from his uncle with whom he was staying, says his joining the choir has helped him reflect about his future and has since decided his thieving ways are now in the past.
“When we sing the songs, they have words and lessons about values that make humans live in harmony and relate well with others. These are the values I have embraced; they make sense to me now,” he says.
His colleague, Alex Njoki, admits that had he not joined the choir, which was started just two years ago, he might not have reconciled with his past.