, 24 April, 2020 / 7:21 AM
The Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), the Rome-based organization that works “to better care for our common home” has recognized a song by a Kenya-based band on COVID-19, a move that has been appreciated by the band leader.
GCCM recognized the “Anti COVID-19” song on the occasion of the 50th edition of the Earth Day marked worldwide on Wednesday, April 22.
Through a Tweet published on April 22, GCCM, which has Pope Francis’ Encyclical on climate change and ecology, Laudato Si’ as its founding document, posted the song and invited followers to “share it with friends.”
“I am so excited, so encouraged, I feel like the organizations and institutions are recognizing the work of young people in church and this can encourage many artists in the church to develop good thematics towards evangelization and giving hope to people of God,” Steeven Kezamutima, the founder and leader of Waka Waka band that is behind the “Anti COVID-19” song told ACI Africa in an interview Thursday, April 23.
The song calls for global solidarity in the face of COVID-19 pandemic and seeks to foster hope among people through its lyrics with the chorus, “There is room for hope; stay safe, don’t be afraid; there is God taking control.”
It is a 2.54-minute reggae song, which the Waka Waka band produced. In the song, Burundian-born Kezamutima teamed up with Lusungu Kumwenda from Malawi to start off singing the lyrics, “I have been crying for justice and I’m here to resist COVID-19. I say, do not be afraid we are not ready to die.”
Kezamutima who is pursuing a Masters degree in Justice, Peace and Social Cohesion the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Kenya is referred to as Baba Miti (Father of Trees) in the song, a nickname his peers gave him due to the Birthday Tree Planting Campaign he runs across East Africa.
“I am just a friend of trees,” Kezamutima, a member of the Secular Franciscan Order, the third branch of the Franciscan Family told ACI Africa.
Speaking about his band’s inspiration to produce the song, Kezamutima who coordinates Laudato Si’ Generation (LSG) in Africa told ACI Africa, “We are all in confinement and feeling the pain of this difficult life as well as the pain of people who are losing life, families affected especially poor people who no longer field for daily struggles to earn their bread.”
He added, “We also feel the pain of our Mother Earth since corporates and some politicians are playing behind the scene by amplifying their fossil fuel project. That is why we are calling our church institutions to divest from fossil fuel and adopt renewable energy.”
Founded in August 2016, the band is made up of ten Secular Franciscan youths studying at CUEA and drawn from various African countries, among them Kenya, Malawi, Burundi and DR Congo.
“That diversity makes us to think globally and deep into issues of health, economy, climate and poverty, which are directly connected to COVID-19,” the 30-year-old Burundian national said and added in reference to their diversity, “That gave us inspiration of calling for a global solidarity and hope to people and the planet.”
In his opinion, music is instrumental in the fight against COVID-19 due to its ability to create awareness and give hope to people who are at risk of trauma, as well as offer the right educative messages to the young people at home watching TV and active on social media.
“Music raises the voice on behalf of citizens telling leaders of the world that we need a global sustainable solution, thus a just recovery,” Kezamutima said.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions such as limited travels and interactions, Waka Waka band performed a 30-minute climate concert during a two-hour Online Earth Day celebration organized by the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Franciscans Africa (JPICFA ) in Nairobi, Kenya, in partnership with CUEA and Mother Earth Network.
During the event, JPICFA also held a Twitter discussion using ten messages contained in the song such as calling for a united global response against COVID-19, making a choice of a fossil fuel-free planet, putting human needs before corporate greed among others.
The 2020 Earth Day celebrations marked under the theme “Climate Action” were unique as they were a build up to the 5th anniversary of the encyclical Laudato si’ in which Pope Francis called the whole world to care for the earth, our common home.
To mark the anniversary, the Holy Father in March invited Catholics around the world to participate in Laudato Si’ week, a global campaign to be marked from May 16-24. The week-long campaign invites Catholic communities across the world to take bolder actions for creation.
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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa