UK gospel group Friends in Christ pull-off Christmas celebration despite low attendance

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By Tidi Kwidini

I had the pleasure of attending the Friends in Christ Christmas concert over the weekend. As always, the UK-based gospel ensemble put their hearts and souls into organising the event and performing. We even got ‘jolly’ with renditions of some Christmas classics, including Come let us adore Him.

Wholly sponsored by Friends in Christ, the event took place at Kings House, in the heart of Bedford. This is the second time the group has chosen to use this beautiful venue.

Despite the unfortunate absence of guest of honour and revered singer, Shingisai Suluma – affectionately known as Mai Suluma – due to unforeseen circumstances, the rising gospel band did not let this phase them.

They instead, showed true professionalism and musicianship in the face of an obstacle and delivered a first-class performance. If there is any group to watch out for in the next few years, it is Friends in Christ.

Gospel stars never disappoint

Our favourite gospel ‘heavyweights’, Jane Doka, Matildah Tekeshe and Obert Mazivisa proved why they are renowned in the industry.

Jane led the audience in worship. If the ‘goose bumps’ on our arms could have detached themselves and joined us in celebration, that room would have been packed. She was electrifying and the presence of the Holy Spirit tangible.

Matildah Tekeshe has been on the rise in the last 24 months and has shown us why she deserves a place on that stage. A performer in her own right, she took us through a level of praise that even ‘King David’ would have had the pleasure of dancing to, as she sang popular songs from her latest album, including the single Chichave Chipatapata.

And there is no gospel concert without the energy, deliverance, dance moves and sound of Obert Mazivisa. He has shown time and time again why he is a seasoned performer and why he is worth every penny you pay when you watch him live.

Mazivisa recently held and recorded his live DVD and audio concert. With a fresh sound, he has completely reinvented himself and changed the game. We are yet to see more of what he has to offer.

Out of the ‘mouths of babes’

The youth are also standing up and being heard and the event, over the past weekend, truly showcased why they are the future.

The RCI Kids brought a smile to our faces, reminding us why we should be joyful, with their performance of the song Happy. I would like to think I became a pro with the lyrics by the end of the song. They also performed a ‘mime dance’ and what was breath-taking to see, was how children as young as eight, mastered each move and danced with such passion.

The multi-talented Chikukutu girls, as they are known, can both sing and dance. I found myself wanting to emulate a dance move or two. Mary, Mary, watch this space, these young, talented girls are joining the ranks in honour of the Lord.

Zimbabweans need to support their own

I have attended a number of gospel events over the years and despite effective marketing, in some cases, numbers still remain low. This is rather disappointing and begs the question, why is there a lack of support for positive community events such as this?

It is understandable that a number of people were disappointed by the absence of Mai Suluma, which was no fault of the team or her own but, people chose to sit at home, on this occasion and, in fact, missed one of the most meaningful and memorable events of the year despite low numbers.

I think it is important for us as a diasporan community, to revaluate what we consider ‘important’ when it comes to events and to learn to support our own local, talented musicians, who put their blood, sweat and tears into their craft. If we cannot be united in the simple things, then how can we unite in the big things?

When comedy added variety

My review cannot end, without mentioning the very talented comedian, Munashe Chirisa, who was the host for the evening and had guests in stitches.

He broke up the monotony at the beginning and got an apathetic audience clasping their ribs in laughter. He added variety and brought a ‘funny side’ to the event. His talent knows no bounds and the future looks very bright for him.

Overall, ‘Christmas with Friends in Christ’ was a nice way to welcome the wonderful season and a chance to celebrate, not only our talented musicians but, the true meaning of Christmas as we countdown.