We all treasure the experience of Afrizo: the joyful melodies, the rich voices, the colorful personalities that create a vibrant African experience. But Afrizo’s songs and voices are more than just entertainment—they tell an ever-evolving story about how Daystar University in Kenya is impacting the entire African continent, one student at a time.
We can still picture it—fresh in our minds as if it were last week—Bonnke gliding across the stage and singing his song “Pambazuka.” The other Afrizo singers behind him add harmonies and synchronized dances to his energetic tune. Finally, the audience laughs as Bonnke stands tall with a funny expression on his face and sings a song of encouragement to the down-and-out.
While Bonnke’s performance is certainly entertaining, it also captures the aliveness that students at Daystar University feel when they know someone has “given them a chance,” echoing this song’s lyrics. In case you’ve forgotten “Pambazuka,” take a listen now:
Rafiki rise and take a step, your destiny awaits
It’s a new day and it is yours, every man deserves a chance
It’s not too late, to make the best of now
Your time has come it’s now,
Inuka rafiki we (rise up friend)
They said you cannot make it—they were wrong
You know that they were wrong
Now show them how you roll, roll, roll, eh!
Tabasamu pambazuka (rise and shine)
Jamaa we (c’mon man)
Imagine spending your whole young life being told that you would not amount to anything. Not because you couldn’t compete or you weren’t good enough, but because you lacked the resources. Your family had no money to provide food, let alone an education.
Afrizo addresses a young man facing this circumstance in its original song “Pambazuka”—a song for the down-and-out, the hopeless, yet the bright and capable. Imagine—amidst this hopelessness—hearing a stranger step in and say: “Rafiki! My friend! Rise to your feet and take a step, for your destiny awaits. It’s a new day and it is yours. Every man deserves a chance—it’s not too late!” What a difference those hopeful words would make!
Daystar University offers this hope to hundreds of disadvantaged students each year. Its faculty believes in the potential of thousands of students, sometimes long before the students even believe it themselves. One scholarship recipient—Benjamin—knows the hardships of those hopeless days, but he also knows how it feels to be believed in. He says: “I defied the odds because someone believed in me.”
Benjamin grew up in a large, poor family in a Nairobi slum. Though his father, the sole income-provider, worked hard, they often lived on very little. As children, Benjamin and his brothers were blessed by a sponsorship to finance their primary school education. This weighty privilege brought much jealousy from his friends and neighbors, and several times he suffered verbal and physical abuse at their hands.
His scholarship to Daystar University years later was like a welcomed message of hope. To cite lyrics from “Pambazuka,” the scholarship reaffirmed Benjamin that “your time has come—it’s now. Rise up friend! They said you cannot make it but they were wrong; now show them how you roll.” Benjamin certainly showed those who despised him how his servant heart would prevail; he refused to take credit for or pride in the blessings he received.
Never forgetting his past, Benjamin says:
“If you looked at my resume, you’ll mistake me for one of those kids—you know, the spoiled kids who had everything go their way. That’s because my resume gives the story of a good education, enviable jobs, and perhaps luck. But that’s not my true story. Mine is a story you’d not want to live—one you’d wish remained a tale, not reality. But for me, it is reality.
Motivated by my scholarship to Daystar, I promised that I would use every opportunity at my disposal to help those like me attain education, encouraging them to excel. I may not have the capacity to reach thousands, but one life, just one more life, is enough.”
Before its lyrics were ever written, Afrizo’s song “Pambazuka” lived in Benjamin’s heart. As a child, someone gave him a chance; later on, Daystar University, with the help of generous supporters in the USA, gave him a chance. He was so encouraged because someone believed in him. Now he shares the Pambazuka spirit with others:
“I owe my success to people who believed in me—people who were under no obligation to assist me, but helped me anyway. Those people are the fuel that propels me towards helping others. I strongly believe that every child’s potential only needs one person to believe in it for that potential to be fully achieved.”
Now, Benjamin works with the World Food Programme in Somalia. In addition, he established his own foundation to help other underprivileged children attend school and university. A portion of every paycheck he earns goes to give others a chance and call them into their destiny which awaits them.
By supporting students’ educations in Kenya, both you and Benjamin are saying to the down-and-out: “Jamaa we! C’mon! It’s time to rise and shine and show the world that you were made for a purpose.”