Patriotism was the major theme as the Kenya National Music Festival entered its nineth day at Kabarak University on Sunday.
The hall rang out with Thomas Wesonga’s evergreen "Tushangilie Kenya", which was in the class of music set piece on patriotism.
The audience was taken back to the old days of Retired President Daniel Arap Moi’s and Kanu’s rule, when the song was virtually an anthem in all national days and party functions.
The nostalgic audience, especially of the older generation, heartily sang along with the performers, most of them bellowing the refrain, 'Kenya tunayoipenda, daima!'
Wesonga composed many songs, most of which were in praise of Moi and ruling party Kanu, such as "Tawala Kenya tawala", but "Tushangilie Kenya" was his greatest hit and it is played in national functions up to date.
The song was picked by the organisers to nurture patriotism. Among the institutions that performed were St Marks Obambo Secondary School, St Ignatius, Erisia, Bumumba, and Sosinja.
Still on the theme of patriotism, secondary schools mixed choirs also participated in another category where the Kenyan national anthem was performed.
Kenya Music National Music Festival executive secretary Ruth Agesa pointed out that many Kenyans do not know all the lyrics of this national song that embodies the essence of Kenya and its nationalism.
“It is sad that many people, especially the youth, cannot sing this simple yet profound song which, like the national flag, signifies our Kenyaness,” said Ms Agesa, noting that the majority of Kenyans can only remember the first verse of the anthem that is learnt in primary school.
St Peters High School, which is a mixed institution, went it alone while Makueni Girls and Mwaani Boys came together to form a choir.
St John’s Boys performed alongside Mukumu Girls while Moi Girls sang together with Sunshine Secondary School.
Loreto Limuru Girls sang together with Lenana School while Thika School for the Visually Impaired performed alone.
Balancing of voices (pitch, tone and rhythm), costumes and presentation all came into play. This pairing up of boys and girls schools promotes unity and cooperation.
In the pairing of schools, one can observe which schools are ‘friendly’ with one another and in some cases, institutions ignore many schools located in their neighbourhood and perform with others from afar.
In the bands category, Nairobi School, Starehe Boys and Mang’u High School took top honours.
The reasons why these schools dominated are simple. They have active bands which perform at school, national and other functions.