In August 2017, over 70 people from five nations gathered at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, Kenya for a three day UA songwriting retreat.
This is our story.
It was actually the first time a UA retreat was ever held outside the United States. Our hopes and prayers were that the Holy Spirit would do what he had done before; unleash creativity, forge friendships, and heal hearts. The Asst. Provost of the Cathedral, Rev. Evans Omollo, introduced UA and set a question before us: “Why are most of the songs we sing on Sundays written by others when the Lord has given Africa a strong voice for worship?” And that was the challenge that catapulted the retreat into a space for creativity.
At first we were a little reluctant. But as we got to know each other, small pockets of people began congregating around the room, working on pieces of music and crafting words together. As the second day rolled around, relationships had grown deeper, collaboration had become organic, and songs of worship were forming all over. Like a little piece of heaven, homegrown songs were drifting in and out around the room. Over twenty were written (in five languages) in just two days.
The final day culminated in a glorious celebration as attendees brought some of these songs to life, recording them live with a multinational band and choir long into t
he evening. It finished in the waning hours of light as everyone gathered around Israel, a 10-year boy, to help him bring the first song he had ever written to life. The Spirit of the Lord was present.
These homegrown songs represent a sampling of the heart and soul, and the voice of worship of the African songwriters that had assembled in Nairobi that August.