An ensemble of 45 well disciplined Africans with an aptitude for music descended in Prasanthi Nilayam with an earnest desire to sing in praise of the Lord walks this earth. And what Prasanthi witnessed on the 9th July was an unprecedented evening turned twilight wherein these Africans courted the Lord with their unsullied devotion weaving love with music.
Africa earned a special distinction in the Sathya Sai History as this was the only overseas land, whereupon the Avatar of the Age walking the earth set His Feet, outside India. It was East Africa’s finest even boon, way back in 1968, when Bhagawan visited the land, blessing the continent and people profusely, travelling wide over. …And ever since, this has been the highest inspiration for the entire African continent, which has, of late, taken giant strides in spreading God’s words of wisdom.
An idea conceived by central co-ordinator for Africa Region 93, Victor Krishna Kanu during the World Conference on Sathya Sai Education 2008, Sai Adult Choir was an offshoot of many a music presentation over the years by countries and continents from the world over in the Divine Presence at Prasanthi Nilayam. The Choir is largely made up of Nigerians, Ghanaians, Cameroonians and Ivorians, while the songs are drawn from Nigeria, Ghana, Congo Brazaville, South Africa and Zaire.
The group of forty five members was led by Sir Jude Nnam, the first young man to be knighted from the Roman Catholic Church. He wastrained at the Trinity College of Music, London and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He had the rare distinction of directing the “Papal Choir” during the visit of Pope John Paul II to Nigeria in 1998 and was also the recipient of second prize, for the Choir from Nigeria, in the Music World Catholic Festival held in Rome. He has over 1000 musical master pieces to his credit and his songs form over 75% of all the songs used in Catholic Liturgical worship all over the country.
What appeared to be a prospective 45 minutes choir was made into a much longer session wherein Lord was seen interacting in person at the second half of the show, asking in between, “one more song”. Transition of these ‘descended’ Africans to the Indian culture was swift as they started off their session with three omkars and in between sang two Sai Bhajans, “Ananda Shyam Ananda Ram….” followed by, “Guru Baba, Guru Baba…” with utmost élan. With the help of local musical instruments, namely, Bass Pot (udu), Wooden Gong (ekwr), Small Wooden Gong (okpokovo), Tambourine (Shaker), Talking Drum-Small (gangan), Big Drum (Igba), they sang a total of nine compositions, three thanks giving songs from north, west and east Nigeria, in Hausa, Yoruba and lgbo languages respectively, two love offering songs from Congo and Ghana, primarily on Lord Jesus, a communion song from South Africa and a song on the Holy Spirit from Zaire. This was followed by the song of the day, a prayer song to Swami by name “Sai Baba Great Navigator” finally to draw the curtain with a gratitude song, a unified song of praise from the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria. This thanksgiving was, of course, not only for fulfilling their dream of singing in the Divine Presence, but primarily for fulfilling the African dream of having Sai African Adult Choir. Yes, it was an African dream that was fulfilled by Sai Sankalpa and the bridge was the bond of unsullied love.
Devotion brings the Lord to manifest in physical…and for the manifested Lord already walking the earth, He can come still closer watching you intently and this was what the conductor experienced on this beautiful twilight. Extremely happy with the show in progress, Bhagawan came down the stage, intently watching the conductor Sir Jude who was on the keyboard weaving rhythmic rhapsody, who was equally on the mike, thundering his devotion leading from the front and who was in absolute control, efficiently conducting with his dancing right hand. Swaying to the beats, radiating smile all over, the Africans sang…”Great Navigator Oh! Sai Baba! Navigate us through this path of life.” Coming closer to Sir Jude Bhagawan asked him twice…no thrice, as to what he wants followed by His typical hand wave, He materialized a green emerald for the staunch catholic conductor!
A special mention should be made of the Navigator song that was sung, while Bhagawan most inadvertently received a “guard of honour” from the choir; Bhagawan chose to move along the semi circle, as the troupe was arrayed, blessing the entire troupe radiating His Divinely beautiful smile all around. The song that was composed by Sir Jude Nnam was Divinely prompted; while on travel, flying from the Nigerian Capital city of Abuja to Lagos for the rehearsal session, sometime in the month of June, his plane caught into turbulence in the midair and all on board were worried. Out of the blue, the message flashed into him, like a Divinely prompted intuition, “I am the Navigator” and needless to say that the plane had a safe landing. Sir Jude, a staunch catholic having no Sai background and not inclined to accept any other faith outside the scope of Catholic Church had a deep introspection. Finally greater conviction dawn unto him and he blurted out, composing and singing, ”Great Navigator Oh! Sai Baba! Navigate us through this path of life, Teach us the secret of love, joy and peace, Navigate Oh! Sai Baba”. Yes, it was Swami who introduced Himself to Sir Jude Nnam, and the staunch catholic was drawn to Prasanthi Nilayam in the pretext of conducting the show!
Earlier, the central co-ordinator for Africa Region 93, Victor Krishna Kanu gave an introductory speech, mentioning the African history of struggle and the ever growing Sai Mission in Africa. He thanked many a hand that helped in making the choir a reality. Before the conclusion he introduced, Bro. Okwudiri Nduka Imo, Chairman National Coordinating Committee, SSSS Organisations, Nigeria and Sir Jude Nnam, the Conductor for the show, to Bhagawan and to the capacity audience.
“Wonderful…so, wonderful…to be in the presence of the Creator and to be so close to Him”, said, Bro. Okwudiri Nduka Imo talking about the twilight’s ecstatic experience. “The experience was a confirmation of what we already have…we have planted Swami in our hearts….coming over to Prasanthi Nilayam gives us the physical experience of the Lord”, said Bro. Imo reminiscing the blissful moments with Bhagawan. Talking about the lone overseas trip made by Bhagawan, he said, “it is not for nothing…it is with a purpose…and it will unfold…I know it…I know it…!!!”
The entire troupe was blessed with sarees for ladies and shirt pieces for gents. Special mementos were given to each and every troupe member individually by the Divine Hands; while presenting mementos Bhagawan was seen interacting with each and every member in the group, often enquiring much in detail. Before the curtain was drawn the troupe had a fabulous photo session with Bhagawan. Arathi was offered at 1900 hrs. IST before the Lord retired to Yaujur Mandiram.