By Bethsheba Achitsa and Ogova Ondego
Published February 14, 2010
Please introduce yourself.
I am Geraldine Akinyi Oduor. I am the fourth born in a family of nine and the first born daughter.
I was born about 30 years ago to parents who were both teachers and I grew up in a village. We were Roman Catholics and I had set my mind on becoming a nun, i.e a Roman Catholic Sister.
Then why are you not a nun today?
Though I was in the first stages of becoming a nun, having spent most of my time in the convent, I left it when I got saved. I don’t like mentioning it but I stopped being a Roman Catholic because of my new-found faith. This didn’t go well with my parents who didn’t understand why I had abandoned my dream. This made my father, who loved me very much for being his first born daughter, very hostile to my salvation. Some of my teachers also supported him but I was not to be intimidated. Salvation was real. I wanted to go to heaven. I realised that my being a nun could fulfill religious obligations but couldn’t take me to heaven.
Where did you go to school?
I attended Mirogi Girls Boarding Primary School and St Alfred’s Secondary School in Homabay District in Nyanza Province of western Kenya, and later joined Egerton University in Rift Valley Province.
So you left Roman Catholicism and became a Pentecostal.
Yes, I gave my life to Christ at the age of 14. This changed the course of my life and vision. While still in secondary school I joined South Nyanza Evangelistic Team (SONET) under the umbrella of Kenya Christian Student’s Fellowship (KCSF). I was also a member of AROMA ministries whose main mission was to evangelize in the rural areas. AROMA is currently affiliated to Trinity Fellowship. Through these ministries I learnt the basics of Christian life; like prayer and fasting, worship and ministry, and got grounded in God’s word. Later in the mid 1990s I joined the intercessory ministry, ‘Kenya House of Prayer’.
How did you get your own family?
I married Justus Oduor in a church wedding in April 2001 and the Lord has so far blessed us with three beautiful children; two daughters, Mitchelle and Sally Neema, and a son, Jakes.
Would you care to say something about your husband?
Without his patience, prayers and understanding, I wouldn’t have come this far. He respects my ministry and I thank God for that. He tells me he also gets blessed with my ministry. You know sometimes I travel a lot and he, at such moments, takes the role of a homemaker, given our children are still very young. Whenever possible we minister together though he isn’t a singer but a teacher of the scriptures.
When did you get into singing?
I started singing in 1993 as soon as I got saved. I knew my ministry was to lead people into God’s presence through worship after being filled with the Holy Spirit. I then joined the Christian Union Worship Team.
How did you get into music recording?
Much as I used to sing, I never had a plan of recording my music until when Angela Chibalonza, one of my icons, died in a road accident in 2007. The loss was too much for me; I loved Angela deeply and wanted, in my own small way with the help of God, to continue with the work of the ministry. I got to record my first album, Damu Ya Yesu, in 2008.
Do you earn your living from music?
No. I am a secondary school teacher. I teach Chemistry and Biology at Noonkopir Girls’ Secondary School in Kitengela on the outskirts on Nairobi.
You say you have never done any other genre of music other than gospel; why do you do Gospel music?
I cannot but help saying what I have heard, seen and experienced. It pains me to see people who have never heard the gospel of Christ. I want to spread the good news. It is a command from the Lord.
What issues do you address in your music?
Glorifying God, exulting the brethren and evangelising the lost. I confine myself to God’s word because it is undisputed. ‘Issues will come and go but the word of God remains’. When the word of God is presented in a simple, un-diluted way, it addresses all the other issues in life.
Why do you sing mainly in Kiswahili and not English or Dholuo?
Kiswahili can be understood by so many people across many national borders. It’s fast growing.
I want to reach the whole world with the gospel of Christ. God spoke that to me many years ago.
Though born in the village my ministry now has been to the urbanites given I am currently in Nairobi. We do worship mainly in Kiswahili. I also think a lot in the language. This has also helped me as my music has been accepted in Tanzania which would not have been the case had I sang in English or Dholuo.
It seems many artists are into Gospel music in Kenya; what is the reason for this?
More people have accepted gospel music because of the nature of the message contained therein. We need many more people to preach through music. The harvest is ripe and the labourers are few (by katherine at testsforge). I will say with Paul in Phil.1:18. “What then, only that in every way whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this, I rejoice.”
How does the entry of many acts in the Gospel music scene affect the genre?
When done properly, it can be very effective in putting the message across to the world. It however has to be done with care because gospel music is about integrity of character. It should be handled with the discipline and respect it deserves. Sometimes when the actions are overdone, attention may shift from the message to the messenger.
Researchers on music in Kenya feel the term ‘Gospel’ is used mainly for the purpose of marketing. What do you say about this?
Gospel music means music which has been written to express either personal or communal belief regarding Christian life. Biblically, the term gospel means ‘good news’ or ‘truth’ which is Jesus Christ. In spite of commercialisation of gospel music, there are remnants doing it true to its meaning, with the main aim of spreading the good news/truth.