“It is not the critic who counts; nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of the deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who Is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who at the best knows at the end of a triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
These were the inspiring words quoted from a poem by Michelle Oguya, a previous student at Safaricom Youth Orchestra during the graduation ceremony that took place on Sunday 25th of April 2021. It was nothing short of inspiring and wonderful to see the Late Bob Collymore’s dream and vision come to life. His wife, Wambui Collymore, was present at the awards ceremony and spoke about how special the Safaricom Youth Orchestra was to her late husband. Some years back, when he took up art classes, he even drew a portrait of one of the students called Derek. That’s how much he was attached to this initiative. It connected him to students from different places in the country through the power of music.
In attendance also, was the C.E.O of Safaricom Peter Ndegwa, who in his speech encouraged the students by emphasizing the power of resilience and especially in these unprecedented times of the pandemic. This is the second time the ceremony has been held virtually due to the restrictions in place as a result of COVID-19.
Speaking of the pandemic, during the last year, the students at Safaricom Youth Orchestra have been forced to start learning music online. It seems difficult seeing as though learning instruments is a very practical thing. But thanks to technology, the impossible has been made possible, and the results are visible.
To make it easier, Safaricom provided the students with 4G-enabled phones and weekly airtime so that they don’t miss classes. They now learn to play through Microsoft Teams, which opened up its platform to the public for free during the pandemic. It allows global, remote, and dispersed teams to be able to work together and share information via a common space.
This period, as Levi Wataka, the Deputy Music Director of Safaricom Youth Orchestra put it, has led to more playing, more commitment, and emerging leadership. The fruits of technology have been reaped, and the Safaricom Youth Orchestra has witnessed this first hand.
The discipline, diligence, and collaborative efforts between students, tutors, and mentors online have led to great knowledge in the field of music through various instruments. As a result, they met physically for the first time in eight months last year November, and put together a performance for the Christmas Concert in a single weekend!
The theme of this year’s graduation ceremony was nurturing a generation of young leaders, which was made manifest in the beautiful words of encouragement that were shared throughout the ceremony.
As Mr. Peter Ndegwa said, “Supporting music and especially for children is important to Safaricom. Music is almost always considered important in a well-rounded education. Knowledge is a powerful tool. Be quick to unlearn and relearn as your circumstances require,” said Peter Ndegwa. This program is important because it builds the confidence of the students, not only in music but also in other aspects of life. It opens them up to many great opportunities. The Master of Ceremony Peter Nyambuto described the Safaricom Youth Orchestra as, “not just a musical group but also a transformative agent.”
The Safaricom Youth Orchestra graduation ceremony was crowned by various performances which were created and put together virtually including Fifth Harmony’s work from home, and a piece by Colonel Bogey. It was monumental as eleven students received the accolade for perfecting instruments such as the French Horn, violin, viola, cello, oboe, trumpet, and percussion. In her speech, Cyndicate Kabei, who graduated in the French Horn department, said, “The French Horn takes me to another world, a world that is free.” Juliani also featured and he did a song with the Orchestra which you can find here at 33.10 of the stream.
Lastly, the graduation ceremony was concluded by a virtual photograph featuring the C.E.O of Safaricom Peter Ndegwa, mentors, tutors, the students, and the alumni of Safaricom Youth Orchestra. This was a befitting symbol of togetherness even though the annual ceremony could not be held physically for the second time in a row.
“If we put our best foot forward, there will always be progress. There’s a reason you are playing the instrument. There’s a reason God brought you here,” Masala Sefu, tutor at Safaricom Youth Orchestra during the graduation ceremony.
In case you missed the event, you can watch it here.
My name is Laura Ayienga, a 25-year-old writer & marketer, experiencing the highs (not claiming the lows) of life. I discovered my passion for writing on this very blog back in 2019 and since then, I’ve been using it to express myself as candidly and authentically as possible.