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Eight differently-abled persons use music to share life stories

In 2021, a group of eight differently-abled individuals came together and formed “The Wonders of God,” a self-help group that uses gospel music to share stories of their struggles, victories, and hope for the future.

That year, they released their first album, called “Maajabu,” named after the group, which reflects their hope to achieve great things despite their disabilities.

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Recently, they released a new album called “Shikilia,” which serves as a rallying call for individuals with different abilities to maintain hope, showcasing their experiences and achievements.

Jesse Kiguri, the group’s leader, explained that the new album is about someone who has lost hope due to life’s ups and downs. He likened it to a man in the Bible who spent most of his life begging but was eventually healed by God.

“Many people are often despised, neglected, and overlooked, which can lead to feelings of hopelessness. However, turning to God is the solution. He invites us to call on Him, promising to respond. He encourages us to ask, and we will receive, to seek, and we shall find. Therefore, let us hold on and remain hopeful, knowing that brighter days are ahead of us.” said Kaguri during the launch of the album at Saint Monica Catholic Parish, Njiru, Nairobi.

At the age of 29-year-old, Kiguria who is blind and plays keyboard for a living is the youngest in the group.

Elvis Hovonimana a member of the group with lower limb disability is a skilled guitarist with a passion for electronics repair and makes a living as a barber.

According to him the song “Shikilia” is a message of hope to those who may feel helpless or powerless in life.

“Everyone has unique talents and abilities that they can use to achieve great things. The song aims to inspire people not to give up and to keep pushing forward,” says Hovonimana.

The group consists of a young woman and seven men with different disabilities, mainly visual and lower limbs said its objective remains to empower everyone to utilize their God-given talents and skills to impact the world and make a living out of it.

Based in Njiru, Kasarani Constituency, and its members are drawn from various informal settlements in Nairobi, Saint Monica Catholic Parish’s Father Dieu Donne helped form the group after he recognized their talents.

He shared his vision for the team with others, and those who believed in it have been working tirelessly to make their dreams come true. Father Dieu Donne started the group because of his passion for music and even sponsored one of the beneficiaries to tell his story through music.

The Wonders of God group aims to use the proceeds from their album launch to get chairs and tents that can be rented for special events. This will help them to continue strengthening their financial muscles and venture into sustainable businesses, ultimately pushing them towards self-reliance.

After the release of their album “Maajabu,” the members of the group have experienced significant progress in their lives.

They started by selling water in the church, but now they have a water vending shop in the same church and a bread shop that won a tender to supply bread to a nearby school.

They are also able to get music gigs, and the proceeds and returns from the shops have helped them acquire musical instruments such as keyboards and guitars, which they use to spread their gospel music.

Most of the eight-member group did not have disabilities from birth but encountered them in their lives due to accidents. Despite their inabilities, they have decided not to be weighed down by them and instead actively engage in commercial ventures to achieve their dreams and aspirations.

Juma Martin, a 31-year-old, uses his teaching skills as a primary school teacher while also playing the keyboard. Jared Kibwage, a 34-year-old, is a skilled keyboard player and choirmaster who plays piano in a church for a fee, and both are blind.

Michael Musyoka, a 31-year-old, applies his business acumen to earn a living. Boniface Gichuhi earns a living through driving and barbering, using his skills, while Nyakundi, the eldest in the group at 50 years old, is still hopeful of one day running a successful business despite his lower limb disability.

The only lady in the group, Monica Muthoni, is 32 years old and has a spinal injury and bladder complications that have kept her in a wheelchair for more than 13 years. She makes crafts such as beads and jewellery to earn a living.

The group is musically talented, with members who can play instruments and train others in the choir to sing songs together. They are often supported by well-wishers who provide the resources needed to produce their music.

Blind gospel singer Dennis Karanja, popularly known as Denno who rose to instant fame with the hit ‘Mbona’ that featured Daddy Owen challenged the abled-differently group to work as hard as they can, affirming to them that a bright future and better days are lying ahead despite their condition.

“You can be what you want to be because what I know is that life does not give us what we deserve. It gives us what we demand. So it’s up to us to work hard for a better future tomorrow. And remember, there is nothing for us without us,” he said during the Shikilia album launch.

Unlike most members of the group, Denno who was the invited guest at the launch was born blind.

He added, “It is important to remember that despite your condition, you are still a human being with a bright future, dreams, and visions. While you may have a disability, you should not limit yourself or believe that you cannot move forward in life. Your condition is just that – a condition. You have a brain, a mind, and everything it takes to build a better tomorrow.”

Ronnie Angel from Holy Beats Production came in handy with the production and video shooting of the group’s first two songs.

So far, the eight songs they have produced – Maajabu, Amani, Shikilia, Wastahili, Uogozi, Furahia, Nchi Ni watu and Jina la Yesu- describe their journey before they came together, how they have fared together, their projection of their future, and what they need to get there.

 

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