The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Chikurubi Prison Choir Conducts Street Tours

Chikurubi Farm Prison Gospel Choir is now conducting street tours as a way of promoting their latest album "Regererai" produced in 2012 at Artisan Studios. The choir, which comprises 34 inmates, makes about US$200 each time they go on tour according to the Chaplain of Chikurubi Farm Prison, Reverend Muringani.

According to the chaplain, the inmates not only sing gospel but they now walk the talk too. Over the weekend, 19 of the choir members took to the central business district and graced the streets with their well polished acappella, much to the delight of passers-by.

"Because of transport problems, only 19 out of the 34 choir members were able to come out and promote the album this weekend.

"We sought permission from the Zimbabwe Prison Services and the city council to do such tours where we target churches and other public places. We do not only perform but sell our music as well," said Reverend Muringani.

The inmates, who were accompanied by prison guards in casual clothes, were said to be converts who had turned over a new leaf in life.

"All these prisoners have left behind their life of crime and are seeking refuge in Christ. We do not fear that any of them will run away as we conduct these city tours because they are born again. Some of them have been neglected by their families and friends so music is all they have," said the reverend.

Former inmates who are part of the choir also tour with other prisoners and help with the marketing of the CDs and DVDs. One of them, Leon Mudavanhu, who was released on February 6 confirmed that the Farm Prison Choir changed his life for the better.

He, however, said his father ,a pastor at Glad Tidings, was yet to be convinced that he is sincere.

"I was at the farm prison for two years for unlawful entry. I disgraced my father who is a pastor and because of my incarceration he found it difficult to forgive me.

"Now that I am out, I have seen the light and am now a devoted member of the United Methodist Church.

"I still sing with the prison choir but I am looking forward to releasing an album with former inmates," he said.

The proceeds from the tours, with the help of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches are used to sponsor more tours while some will be given to inmates as capital once they finish their sentences. The gospel choir members' sentences range from four to 12 years.

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