A former English Language teacher at the University of Lagos, who is now better known as Nigeria’s Reggae music superstar and author, Buchi Atuonwu, is set to host Nigeria’s first-ever National Hymn Festival.
It will take place on 19 November at the Sports Centre of the University of Lagos and will feature performances from Dr. Panam Percy Paul, Joe Praize and Ada.
The singer says the initiative is his way of ensuring that “the great hymns that built us up and sustained our faith inspired us to do things and live for Jesus Christ, are not allowed to die”.
He paints a great picture of why he is convening the festival. “I am doing this as a patriot. God speaks to the one who cares, and He spoke to me about doing things that could unite the church. I know that the unity of the church is not about belonging to an association, as beautiful as that may be. That is not what the Bible means by the church’s unity.”
In the estimation of Buchi, there is yet no platform that supports the kind of collaboration he would like to see among churches. “The unity of the church,” he reasoned, “will come through knowledge; Knowledge of the Word of God. How will that happen if you teach a different thing and I teach a different thing, and there is no platform for us or our members to share, grow and investigate the Word; even interrogate one another?”
At the festival, delegates of the Catholic Church, the Pentecostal fellowship, the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) and the white garment churches will constitute a 2,022-person National Hymn Festival choir to render some of the timeless hymns that inspired generations of Christians.
He added that the denominations have also assembled their choirs to chase the top prize of N2 million and a trophy. There are also cash prizes, plaques, trophies for the second and third place, and consolation awards for every participating choir.
Buchi, who started as a disc jockey in night clubs, is best known for his hits Mma Mma (2005), Mma Mma (2005), Jesus Must Be Honoured (2011), It Is Well (2014), and What A Mighty God (2011).