Old song — Zambian twist
The Zambian Vocal Group rocked the 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. chapel sessions on Sept. 21.
The group has been singing together for 26 years to raise money to build a school for children in their country of Zambia.
The group first came to the U.S. in 1993 after missionaries had visited their community and shown a Jesus film that led the members of the group to Christ.
Lead vocalist Sylvester Sichangwa tells the story of how the missionaries built the church that the members of the vocal group attended.
After becoming members of the church, Sylvester, Richard, Oliver and Josephat decided to start a Sunday school class there.
“Through that class, we started learning how to sing because every Sunday school class wanted us to do a memory verse and sing a song, and we heard so many comments about people who liked the way we sang,” Sichangwa said. “We decided to start our own group.”
When an education missionary came to start a school in that church in 1989, he asked the members of the Zambian Vocal Group what they wanted out of life. They all replied they wanted to go back to school.
The missionary offered to bring them to the U.S. in 1989 to allow them to tour and raise enough money to build a school in their community, which was the ultimate goal.
For three years they practiced singing three hours a day six days a week perfecting their voices.
In 1993, something they thought would never be possible came true. They were finally brought to the U.S.
Through their Vocal Mission they raised enough money to get their GEDs and attend college as they all had hoped.
In 2004, they went on a mission to help orphans. Through their efforts, they were able to raise enough money to build a school for more than 250 students and four teachers.
The Zambian Vocal Group has a fund to raise money toward hiring more teachers for their growing classrooms.
Freshman international business major Johnathan Kendall said, “I have been going to Zambia since I was 8, and I still visit every summer. I lived right around where they are based in Lusaka.”
Although Kendall had never met the group before, they had an instant connection.
“I went up to a couple of the guys and said (Zambia Chipolopolo) (the name of their national team). It caught them off guard, and their faces lit up, knowing that is only said in Zambia,” he said. “After that I greeted them (Muli Shani) and they responded that they are good (ndili bwino). This brought us together, and we dialogued in Nyanja and Bemba back and forth discussing our various ministries.”
Kendall added that in Zambia people on the streets call him “Muzugu Zambian” which means “A white man Zambian.”
Without his telling them his nickname, the Zambian Vocal Group called him by this also.
Sophomore nursing major Shelby Ashley said, “Their performance was spiritual and made me step back and look at my faith and change some things. Seeing those five men so eager to worship and help made me reevaluate my thoughts.”
The choir can now add Ashley to the growing list of those who have been affected by their tour.
She said, “I was rejuvenated when I left chapel because I felt changed and uplifted.”