BY TINASHE RANGANAI DZOTIZEI
The year 2017 has provided great music moments sandwiched by unique historic storylines when it comes to the Mubvuwi weUnited Methodist Church (MUMC) Organisation.
The Zimbabwe East (ZEAC) and West (ZWAC) Annual Conferences both staged music festivals up to conference level, with Area festivals scheduled for next year and indeed both musicals lived up to their billing.
Not only was the music rich in creativity and industry, it was, thanks to two history defining moments that ensured 2017 was a year with a difference for the Vabvuwi society.
The Zimbabwe West Annual Conference converged in the City of Kings and Queens Bulawayo at the ZITF Hall 3 on October 15 for the festivals with 19 choirs making the cut for the music celebration.
The festival will be best remembered as the one that announced the renaissance of the Mabelreign (Revelation) MUMC choir who did more than enough to win both categories.
The performance was deserved, more so with their own choice delivery, a rendition of the hymnal Mwari wakati handikukanganwi, sung in Ndebele.
The United Methodist Church is in the final stages of unveiling a Ndebele Hymn Book with songs in the hymnal being aligned to the Shona Hymn Book.
For instance, the popular Mwari Mubatsiri wedu which is hymn 46 in the Shona version will also appear in the Ndebele hymnal as hymn 46.
About five choirs in the conference attempted Ndebele hymnals during the festivals, a historic feat for the church as it seeks to use the development as a tool for evangelism especially in the Bulawayo – Midlands District where the language is mostly used.
ZWAC Connectional Ministries Director Rev Vienna Mutezo hinted that upon the passing of resolutions at the Annual Conference, all MUMC Choirs in the ZWAC next year will be asked to do their own choice songs in Ndebele.
In the Eastern conference, debutants Southlea Park wrote a Cindrella story by being crowned conference music champions in just their first dance as a circuit at a festival held at Mutare Inner City on November 11.
Moments like these come once in a lifetime and Southlea Park truly announced their arrival on the big stage with a splash, beating 21 other choirs to the honours in the set piece song.
The choir proved to all and sundry that their win in the district musicals was no fluke as they showed composure and nerves of steel to sing at the very last ballot and won.
Own choice specialists Chitungwiza Circuit (St Stephens) won the own choice category.
The major highlight of the festivals was the colour brought about by the Centenary regalia worn by all the participating choirs.
Reminiscent of the pre Ebenezer Convention hype in 2014 where the RRW organization took the lead in marketing the occasion by drapping themselves in Ebenezer regalia in music festivals prior, the MUMC took notes and the application was beautiful.
2018 will be a momentous year for the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area, the MUMC in particular, as they will celebrate 100 years in ministry in massive celebrations to be held at the iconic Chiringaodzi camp site.
With that in mind, the ZEAC MUMC saw it fit to raise awareness of the event one year before by fitting regalia which chronicles the years in existence of the organization as well as the sub theme Mark 1 vs 17 : Mwari wakati nditewerei and the quadrennial theme , Therefore Go :Matthew 28 vs 19.
It just remains to be seen what 2018 holds for our church with such a historic occasion coming its way but one thing for sure is the MUMC have given a few ideas of what to expect.
Music, a component which the MUMC has used with evangelistic effect to popularize and position our church as a singing church in Zimbabwe and beyond our borders, will very much form part of the celebration equation with composers being asked to pen songs for the event.
After all is said and done, the 2017 MUMC musicals served its purpose not only to evangelise and give birth to new music champions but they also served as a good dress rehearsal to what 2018 will bring from both conferences as they will combine efforts to ensure the Centenary celebrations will be one to behold.