The Watoto Children’s Choir is kicking off its four-month United States tour with appearances in Florida, including local stops.
The choir’s tour, entitled “Beautiful Africa: A New Generation,” seeks to raise awareness about the plight of orphaned and vulnerable children in Africa.
The performances — which are free and open to the public — include original African music, dance routines and life-transforming stories from rescued orphans and women who are part of the choir.
Local stops on the tour include a 7 p.m. performance Jan. 14 at Victorious Life Church, 6224 Old Pasco Road in Wesley Chapel, and three performances at Van Dyke Church in Lutz. The Van Dyke performances are at 6 p.m. on Jan. 17, and 9:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. on Jan. 18. Van Dyke is at 17030 Lakeshore Road.
Each of the children in the choir has suffered the loss of one or both parents. They live in Watoto Children’s Villages where they are nurtured to become productive citizens and leaders in their own country.
Edwinsmith Kigozi, now 29, was just 11 years old when he went to live in a Watoto Village. His parents had both died. His uncle did not have the means to support him and they welcomed Watoto’s help, said Kigozi, now a team leader with the organization.
The concerts feature a fusion of contemporary gospel and traditional African rhythm.
Watoto’s children’s choirs have been traveling internationally since 1994 as ambassadors for millions of children who have been orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS, war and poverty.
Besides appearing in the United States, the choirs have traveled to Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, Germany, France and the U.S, among others.
Their audiences have included royalty, presidents, ministers, as well as people without rank or wealth.
The choirs serve as a cultural exchange and as a way to attract support for Watoto’s work, Kigozi said.
Choir members have the chance to be exposed to a broader world, he said. And, the hope is that audience members will do something about the plight that less fortunate people face, not only in Africa, but in America and other places, Kigozi said.
Watoto’s aim is to nurture children and to help them to develop into future leaders in their country, Kigozi said. Those leadership roles may come in different spheres of life, including medicine, law, politics and other areas.
Besides the Wesley Chapel and Lutz appearances, the choir also will be performing at Exciting Central Tampa Baptist Church, 2923 North Tampa St., in Tampa, at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 21.
Published January 14, 2015