The stage is set for schools and colleges to commence music contests at regional levels as students report back to school from April holidays this week. Competitions start this month with an estimated 1.5 million students expected to showcase their talents in the zonal levels.
Out of these groups, about 200,000 students will compete at the Kenya National Music Festival finals set to be held from August 6 to August 18 at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Nyeri county.
Last year’s fete was held at Masinde Muliro University in Kakamega county. Last week, officials of the music festival, under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, held a five-day workshop for adjudicators, music composers and trainers in preparation for the 94th edition of the annual contest.
The festival attracts learners from Early Childhood Development (ECD) classes, primary and secondary schools, middle level and vocational colleges and university students. Speaking during the workshop, the festival chairman, Peter Wanjohi said performing arts such as music and drama are vehicles for transmitting and imparting values, attitudes and thoughtful artistic systems.
“The reason for this workshop is to train and synchronise the news trends in adjudication and training of teams,” he said. As a co-curricular activity in the Education calendar, the Kenya Music Festival helps gifted students develop and showcase their talents on a national platform.
The theme of this year’s festival is Enhancing National Unity, Cohesion and Integration through Kenya Music Festival. The festival is a forum for mentoring and nurturing promising performers of music, dance and elocution to showcase their talents and avail opportunities for career development.
It also promotes the preservation and appreciation of the diverse Kenyan cultures to foster national unity, the Kenyan identity and global recognition among other objectives.
The proposed curriculum reform has created academic, vocational and talent tracks that allow learners to develop their unique abilities and inclinations without the restrictions of the current academic-oriented curriculum.
This year’s fete features African, western, oriental and Islamic vocal and instrumental music and dance, elocution in English, Kiswahili and other African languages, French, Germany Arabic and the Kenyan Sign Language.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has taken a leading role as the main sponsor under their theme, No Violence Against Children is Justifiable and All Children have a right to Quality Education. This is aimed at complementing the government’s initiatives of giving every child a forum to interact, learn, practise and appreciate their own culture.
The other sponsors in the music festival include Brooke East Africa; Equatorial Nut Processors National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF); The Public Service Commission, National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and the National Police Service.
The Teachers Service Commission; Communication Authority of Kenya; Kenya Commercial Bank; Vision 2030 secretariat; Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) and the National Social Security Fund are also supporting the event.
The sponsors have given out key messages to be communicated by the participants. The themes to be spread out are in line with the Jubilee government’s Big Four agenda goals. These are food security, affordable housing manufacturing and affordable health care.
“This will be a great contribution from the music festival as participants from the lowest level of learning will be a able to understand the country’s Big Four Agenda,” said Wanjohi, the festival chairman.
The KICD input comes in a time when the government is rolling out the new curriculum, which also happens to be in tandem with the mission and vision of Kenya Music Festival.
“The performance industry is now being considered as a core business to be embedded in the new curriculum,” said Wanjohi. The Education ministry will from this year make the identification and nurturing of talent part of the curriculum. This is a projection to empower Kenyans to exploit the performance industry to enable them to earn gainful employment.
Present during the ceremony were Deputy Director (field and co-curriculum activities) Patrick Khaemba, Executive Secretary Ruth Agesa and other senior officials from the ministry.
Last year, the audience was driven crazy by electrifying cultural dances, folk songs Taarab, Zilizopendwa songs and choir displays where Principal secretary for Basic Education, Dr Belio Kipsang, was the chief guest. Crowds thronged Masinde Muliro University’s Multipurpose Hall as winners of various categories were rewarded with cash and trophies.