Leaders Are Born

It’s 8 a.m. on a Monday morning and all the adults from Choir 71 are at a weekly planning meeting. So what happens with the children when the “cat” is away?

Their discipline is not lost. The children behave in the same orderly fashion with maybe a bit more giggling and teasing.

To ensure this, every week the adults in Choir 71 identify an outstanding child with leadership skills to lead the team. This week Denis Opio, a 9-year-old boy becomes captain of the ship.


Before he begins calling the children together he is interrupted by Pamela, a 12-year-old girl who has also been chosen to lead in the past. “Denis, I’m taking these two with me outside. They have not yet mastered the moves for “Heirs,” she says as she slips out of the room to train the two children.

When the children have all gathered around him, Denis gives them their first instruction. “Vocal warm ups. We start with vocal drills and then…”He’s distracted by some children who are still playing hide-and-seek.

“Today, we are going to run through all the songs, starting with the Canadian national anthem. Let’s continue with the warm ups.” It seems as if Dennis has the entire morning planned out and under control.


As part of their vocal exercise, they lay down and do push-ups, followed by sit-ups.

It’s now time for the actual practice. Denis ensures that every child is singing right. When he hears one of the children singing off key, he pulls his chair closer to listen again. He then asks them to start over.

“I love leading and I feel happy when the children listen to me and follow my instructions. But sometimes they don’t and this makes me feel bad,” he says, revealing his passion and frustration.

Since Denis started training for choir, he has been a very lively boy, excited about everything especially taking lead in all activities.

“He’s strong-willed and goal-oriented. He gets frustrated when the entire choir makes mistakes during practice,” explains Solomon Ndawula, his uncle on tour.


Denis will also stand up for the other children and hold the adults accountable to their words.

“He’s very observant and quickly learns from the adults. He sees a part of our character that interests him, and he will pick it up,” Solomon adds.

During training we nurture our children’s God-given talents. We encourage their good habits and help build their character.


One hour later when the aunties and uncles return from their meeting, Denis hands the team over to Brian Mwaka, their team leader.

In unison, the rest of the group thanks Denis for leading them through practice as they rush back to their positions and continue with their day.

A Celebration Of Our Father’s Love

Africa has a unique expression of worship. It’s communal, a unity of voices expressing the different challenges that people face. Even without musical instruments, Africans will create music using whatever they have within reach, and they will make a joyful noise to the Lord. “The kind of atmosphere of worship they create is contagious, and it creates an effect in others,” says James Skinner, Creative Director: Watoto Children’s Choir.


Oh, What Love has brought out the unique God-given talents of young Africans to express the hope and massive hearts of worship. Almost twenty local songwriters have contributed to crafting songs that share the stories of the orphan child and God’s love through worship. Each song in the production challenges our personal relationship with God as our Father by reminding us of His perfect love for us, through Christ. “This is not just the Watoto story, its God’s story,” says Roy Kaddu, one of the contributing songwriters. “I believe that we are all orphans in one way or another.”

Oh, What Love is based on 1 John 3:1 (ESV) which says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we shall be called children of God, and so we are.” Each Watoto child has experienced separation. With no one to look after them, many were forced to a life on the streets where they scavenged for food in garbage pits, and slept under the cold blanket of the night. Some lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, and others were abandoned as babies in hospitals or police stations. This caused the loss of their identity, sense of belonging and love. But because of our Father’s love, Watoto rescued them and now their lives have been restored.


“There’s a kind of joy that they have experienced. They are happy regardless of what they have been through. A child will amaze you and tell you, ‘I’m not an orphan because I know who my Father is,” expresses Faridah Janai, another contributing writer and adult chaperone. As the children sing and dance to the songs, they also connect with the heart of God. Watoto helps them understand that through Christ, we find healing, purpose, identity and the right to be heirs.

“When I sing ‘Healing is in Your Hands’, I feel like praying. I feel as if God is holding out his hand to me,” expresses Angelina Nyiramutuzo, an 11 year-old child who will be travelling to the UK in January.

Since 1994, the Watoto choirs have been telling the story of orphans rescued by Watoto. Through dance and music, they share a message of hope. However Oh, What Love is more than just the children performing on stage, it’s the Father reaching out to every individual through the children to change people’s lives.


Oh, What Love will be travelling to the UK, the U.S. And Canada in January, 2015. Book now www.watoto.com/the-choir/book-the-choir to host the choir in your country.

A New Sound From the Heart of Africa

Africa is growing to greatness. In today’s Africa, people are migrating from their villages to the ever-growing metropolitan cities. They are increasingly connected with what’s happening outside the borders of their homes, cities and countries. Innovation and modernity are central to the new African lifestyle.

During the day, the streets are bustling as people rush to catch the next bus to their work places. By evening, as offices close, people dash out to socialise on sidewalks, lined with the latest shoes and designer bags, and vendors who are ready with roasted meat. Music blasts from every corner of the city, and somewhere a new and unique sound is heard. It’s a colourful blend of traditional drums vibrating in motion to the rhythm of synthesizers. A fusion of exotic melodies and electronic instruments, which convey joy and express the life of a new Africa.


This is the sound of Oh, What Love – Watoto’s latest music album, which will be performed by the Watoto Children’s Choir in 2015. Watoto’s hope is that the music will travel everywhere, that it will permeate people’s cars, schools, churches and homes, and reach out to different generations.

Oh, What Love is a fresh production right from the heart of Africa, produced and written locally, and performed by the children of Mother Africa. It is the kind of music that will connect the children on stage with the heart of people in the audience.

“We have embraced a lot of modern beats, but have not forgotten our roots. This is a new kind of Watoto that the world needs to know,” says Comfort Asianzu.

When people listen to African music they expect to hear drums, harmonies and melodies in the vocals. This new production offers all of that and more. Watoto has synced African elements with modern concepts to create an Afro-Urban sound.

Africa is a diverse continent, with different cultures and beliefs, but we find unity in our music. “In this production, we have used a number of different languages from different groups across Uganda. We all feel represented,” says Roy Kaddu.

New beats are evolving throughout the week, fleshed out with heartfelt harmonies to create powerful songs of worship and celebration. These songs tell the story of separation, suffering, redemption and restoration in the lives of children who were once orphaned. Take a sneak peek of what’s to come in this video.


Oh, What Love will be travelling to the UK, USA and Canada in January 2015. Book the choir here.