The Voices of December 22 (I)

By Joe Iniodu

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All appears set for the biggest annual event in the State, the Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival 2017 which debuted in 2008 with 9,300 carols singers.

December 22, 2017 would herald the 10th edition of this epochal event which has won for the State global recognition and acclaim. The event which is always beamed live via satellite broadcast is known to draw viewership of millions of Christian worshippers and even non Christians all over the globe largely on account of its evangelism and entertainment values.

The scripture asserts that God inhabits the praise of His people. The deduction is that God relishes praise and rightly so. It has been widely posited and yet to be contradicted that the only reason God created man (woman is subsumed in the masculine gender) is for man to praise and worship Him. Examples abound of those who unraveled the wisdom of praising God and the blessings that segue such feat. The Holy Book records David as one man who understood the value of praising God and deployed it maximally. Many believe that devotion in thanksgiving and praise to God covered his many indiscretions before God who continued to accept him as His friend.

Praising God and thanksgiving seem to be the secret that one needs to know and implement to attract God’s blessings. At a secular level, people who demonstrate gratitude are often likely to have an edge in their pursuit than others who are known perpetually as lacking that spirit of being thankful. As a State, nothing can be more gracious and beneficent as having leaders who understand the spiritual import of thanksgiving and praising God and could galvanize the people to that act of faith. Fortunately for the State, the immediate past administration and the present are blessed with that wisdom and have reaped great benefits from worshipping and praising God.

The Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival aside from the spiritual benefits drawn from worshipping and praising God in commemoration of the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ also gives Akwa Ibom people opportunity to watch live, iconic gospel artistes from far countries of the world. Recall when Angela Christie, Don Moen, Donnie McClurkin and others debuted in the State and gave the people opportunity to feel their physical presence. These are legendary artistes they only used to read about or watch on television but the carols brought them to Akwa Ibom shores for them to behold. It has always been a spectacular experience.

The 2017 Carols Festival being the 10th edition would be a product of 9 years of cognate experience and under the supervision of Mr. Aniekpeno Mkpanang, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, a man known to have over the years evolved into an icon in event management. This edition would present a potpourri of gospel artistes from the indigenous to those from outside the State but within Nigeria and those from outside the shores of Nigeria. It is a collection of artistes with known trademarks of captivating and electrifying the audience.

Everything about the 2017 Carols Festival has been honed into optimum mode. The character of the event can be glimpsed from the Officiating Minister of the 2017 Akwa Ibom Carols Festival, Pastor Agu Irukwu. Agu is a graduate of law from the University of Warwick. He was ordained pastor in 1993 and is currently a Senior Pastor of Redeemed Christian Church of God, Jesus House United Kingdom. Irukwu’s voice would be the voice that would tear through that night to bring to the mammoth gathering the message that would no doubt consolidate our faith in our Lord and Saviour.

Some of the 2017 performing artistes at the Carols Festival may be familiar names that may have been heard or watched before but that can not erode the ecstatic performance they are all capable of delivering to the admiration of the audience. An instance is Ron Kenoly, who is returning as guest for the second time after 2014 to the event. The one time American Air Force Officer whose song “Lift Him Up” which debuted in 1992 became an instant success is a singer with stage presence that captivates the audience. Kenoly would be on hand for a song ministration that would elevate worshippers spiritually at that event.

Bob Fitts has been in song ministrations from the 1970s. A graduate of Christian Religion, Bob Fitts is the main guest artistes for this year’s Akwa Ibom Carols Festival. To also join to take worshippers and faithful to the throne of grace is Elsie Duncan-Williams Otoo whose vocal skills and anointing in song ministrations was discovered while a teenager. Elsie Otoo remains the first lady of Action Chapel, Alexandria, Virginia, USA to travel to various countries to minister in songs alongside her father, Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams. She also serves in the ministry alongside her husband, Bishop Kibby Otoo.

The Akwa Ibom songbird, Amaikah who stated her singing career at the age of 6 and has grown into an enviable star with her strong vocals, stage presence and renowned song writing skills would be on hand to lead worshippers to that jubilant mood of fellowship with God. Nathaniel Bassey, a son of the soil who is doing exploits in the gospel music ministry from his base in Lagos would also join other artistes on December 22 to celebrate the 10th edition of Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival.

Progress Effiong, another Akwa Ibom son, the spirit behind “Amen”, currently enjoying the highest number of air play on both local and international radio and TV Stations would also join worshippers with his uniqueness in song delivery which is a blend of African and contemporary style.

TO BE CONTINUED.

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