Celestial Chorus Soiree: Celebrating New Year in style

This black-tie event was a convergence of distinguished guests, including Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church leaders from across Zimbabwe, Adventist pastors, members of the Harare City Centre SDA, chaplains from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Zimbabwe Republic Police, and Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, as well as various educators, business associates, and relatives of philanthropist Kudakwashe Tagwirei.

Dubbed "Celestial Chorus Soiree, which translates to Heavenly Chorus Evening, the event was held at the Glamis Arena, marking a spectacular beginning to 2024.

This black-tie event was a convergence of distinguished guests, including Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church leaders from across Zimbabwe, Adventist pastors, members of the Harare City Centre SDA, chaplains from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Zimbabwe Republic Police, and Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, as well as various educators, business associates, and relatives of philanthropist Kudakwashe Tagwirei.

The occasion was graced with virtual addresses by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa and the regional leader of the SDA Church in the Southern African Indian Division.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Attendance at this exclusive event required only an invitation, a coveted passport to an unforgettable crossover celebration into 2024 marked by spiritual ministering and captivating music.

Organised by the Bridging Gaps Foundation, a venture of businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei and his wife Sandra Tagwirei, the event was not only a feast for the attendees but also reached a wide audience through live broadcasts on ZBC TV, seven radio stations, and various online platforms.

 The entrance to the venue itself was a prelude to the evening's elegance.

Guests were welcomed by violinists encased in bubbles, leading to a dinner setup that was nothing short of magical.

Upon entry, attendees were offered a unique drink that emerged from the wall.

The dinner featuring exquisite delicacies such as wagyu beef and alcohol-free champagne with 24-carat gold flakes set a new standard for luxury dining.

The main programme commenced with soul-stirring hymnals led by Gcina and friends from South Africa.

The story of Joshua

A fitting message was delivered by Pastor Blose, who drew upon the story of Joshua in the Bible.

 The event was officially opened by Keisha Mlalazi, who introduced her father, the evergreen Everton Mlalazi, who not only captivated the audience with his singing but also adeptly fulfilled the role of anchor and director of ceremonies.

The spiritual ambiance was further elevated by heartwarming SDA hymnal songs, beautifully complemented by a 40-piece orchestra.

Zachary Tagwirei

At its core, the Celestial Chorus Soiree was a spectacular showcase of artists such as Janet Manyowa, Rudo Madindi, Dumi Mkotstad, Canaan Nyathi, Ayanda Ntanzi, Lebo Sekgobela, Maka Manzi Orchestra, Mpumi Mtsweni, Peniel and Munashe, who graced the stage with their performances.

A standout performance was given by 14-year-old Natasha Mlalazi, who captivated the audience with her rendition of the hymn "Tenzi Nditungamirei”.

The artistes were ably supported by The Vine, The Unveiled, and Worship Therapy.

Each artist brought their unique style and flair to the stage, creating an eclectic mix of musical genres and performances that resonated with the diverse audience.

Kudaira Tagwirei

Their contributions were not only a celebration of their individual talents, but also a testament to the unifying power of music in bringing together people from various backgrounds and walks of life.

 Welcoming New Year

The Celestial Chorus Soiree served not only as a celebration to welcome the New Year, but also as a platform for inspiring and mobilising the community towards national progress and spiritual growth. 

The event's glamour was matched by its significance as guests were glued to the big screen, awaiting messages of wisdom and inspiration from President Mnangagwa.

He together with the First Lady, Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda, and Commissioner General of police Godwin Matanga and the Southern African regional leader of the Seventh Day Adventist church Dr H Akombwa all addressed the audience, imparting words that resonated with hope and encouragement.

In his address, President Mnangagwa said: "I would like to thank the Seventh Day Adventist community in Zimbabwe as I have always said to all churches that the freedom of worship is a fundamental right that is deeply enshrined in our constitution.

“The Seventh Day Adventist Church with more than one million baptised members in Zimbabwe has significantly contributed in the fields of health, education, social welfare and spiritual guidance, assisting the people of Zimbabwe.

Sandra Tagwirei

“The church has developed some of the best educational institutions, which have contributed to the Vision 2030.

“To this end, I extend my heartfelt message to each of the Seventh Day Adventist Church member as well as many others in community of faith a prosperous new year of 2024.

“Let us tap into this year working together around our national mantra: Nyika inovakwa neveNE vayo, igonamatirwa nevene vayo, igotongwa nevene vayo”.

 The First Lady also praised the SDA Church, especially the women constituency, for being faithful partners in the country’s development.

She said:  "As we celebrate the dawn of 2024, all of us together full of joy and hope with the good tidings the New Year is bringing, we want to recognise one of the pillars of the Adventist home, the woman.

“I wish to applaud all the women in the Seventh Day Adventist Church powerful women known as “Dorcas” with the great humanitarian work they do in our beautiful country of Zimbabwe.

“As a nation we appreciate your hospital visits, cleaning campaigns, feeding schemes, support to orphanages and unwavering collaboration with Angel of Hope Foundation.

“Tonight, as a woman and First Lady of Zimbabwe, I wish all the women in the Seventh Day Adventist Church of Zimbabwe a happy prosperous new year.

“May peace trust and love reign in your homes and everywhere where we take action together for the common good. Happy New Year.”

Spirituality and peace

 General Sibanda was unequivocal in his praise for the role the Seventh Day Adventist has played in matters of spirituality and peace, on which broader national peace and harmony emanates from.

He said “The principles embedded in the Adventist family life emphasise the importance of peace and love.

“As we cross over into 2024, I as commander Defence Forces urges all people of various religious beliefs, the Seventh Day Adventist in particular to embrace peace, unity and uprightness.

“Let us dedicate ourselves to nurturing our spiritual well-being and strive to build a nation founded on mutual respect, peace and love.

“Let us unite to make 2024 a symbol of our dedication to a country where peace, love, and respect are paramount,”

Speaking on behalf of Commissioner General Matanga, chaplain general Reverend Dr Jeremiah Doice lauded the Adventist community for their crucial role in enhancing mental and social health, and in contributing to help in the reduction of crime.

He spoke on the challenge of rising drug abuse and advocated for the Newstart programme, aligning with the police's goals of rehabilitation and community safety.

The regional leader of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Dr Akombwa also extended New Year wishes to the SDA community.

He urged members to open their hearts to the Lord, cherish life in 2024, and trust God with their plans.

His words underscored a theme of gratitude and faith, resonating deeply with the attendees.

The spiritual essence of the Celestial Chorus Soiree was further emphasised through the contributions of Tagwirei's children, who played a pivotal role in integrating the doctrine of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church into the evening's festivities.

Taonanyasha, Zachary, and Kudaira Tagwirei each brought a unique element of the church's teachings to life for the guests.

Taonanyasha focused on the virtue of 'giving', Zachary on the principle of 'forgiveness', and Kudaira delved into the foundational 'Ten Commandments'.

Their presentations involved sharing scriptures and Bible lessons, which not only enriched the spiritual atmosphere, but also served as a reminder of the core values of the faith community gathered there.

 This incorporation of personal and doctrinal elements ensured that the Celestial Chorus Soiree was not just a showcase of cultural and religious grandeur, but also a platform for personal reflection and spiritual learning.

Tagwirei personal testimony

Tagwirei, the visionary behind the Bridging Gaps Foundation and the orchestrator of this grand event, shared his personal testimony with the audience.

He elaborated on his reasons for choosing to celebrate life at this event with friends, relatives, and church members.

His words offered insight into his motivations and aspirations, reflecting his commitment to faith, family, and community.

In his moving testimony and in tears Tagwirei said: ‘When I was sick my wife, together with my sister and many others were praying for me but I know the wounds of their prayer because today she still has the testimony of her knees.

“If you look at her, she is light but her knees are still black from the prayers she was.

“That experience taught me to recognise friends that were there to support our children and also to support her, to be with me all the time.

“I also recognised the important of the church, there were people who were praying for me far and wide and one of the most critical thing is that I cannot make it alone.

“I needed you to be there while I was down and I didn't  know what was happening, you were there for me so today we are celebrating that event together because  you were there for me, I need you and you need me, so I thank God for you.”

 The Celestial Chorus Soiree reached an emotional crescendo when Kudakwashe Tagwirei invited his mother to the stage in a moment that stood out as a major highlight of the event.

In a touching display of familial bonds and faith, she sang the first stanza of Hymn 131 from 'Christ in Song,' performed in Ndebele as Ma Ngifuze uJesu, which translates to ‘More like Jesus would I be.’

This hymn, rich in spiritual significance, was not just a performance; it symbolised a deeper connection to faith and resilience.

She shared words of encouragement with the audience, highlighting how this particular hymn served as a source of comfort and strength during the challenging period when her son, Kudakwashe Tagwirei, was fighting for his life.

 The grand finale of the event was as majestic as the occasion itself.

Guests in awe

 An extraordinary display of fireworks lit up the night sky, leaving the guests in awe.

This dazzling spectacle was more than just a visual treat; it symbolised the ushering in of the New Year with hope, joy, and celebration.

The fireworks marked a fitting end to an evening that was filled with spiritual significance, musical excellence, and a strong sense of community.

  The Bridging Gaps Foundation, which organised the event, was founded by Dr Tagwirei and his wife.

Responding to questions Mrs Tagwirei Said “Bridging Gaps is what Christ did for us by sacrificing His life so that we could live.

“He repaired the breech that separated us from God. As His disciples we accept His call to help others “kuti vayambuke”  from issues of poverty, disability, illness, lack of education and so many of the ills of this life that beset us. Matthew 25:40 is our inspiration.”

 The executive director of the Bridging Gaps Foundation  Dr Blessing Nyahuma emphasised their commitment to enhancing education, health, wellness, food, and nutrition, responding to national disasters, and building capacity in primary and secondary schools, as well as universities, for various faiths and people.

He stated: "Our ongoing 'Centres of Influence' projects, which target over 60 schools, are focused on strengthening educational institutions for future growth."

Dr Nyahuma also elaborated on the current capacity-building projects at Solusi University and the recent launch of comprehensive projects for flagship Adventist mission schools.

These initiatives are designed to improve teachers' remuneration packages, recognizing the vital role educators play in society.

 Within the Bridging Gaps Foundation (BGF) structure, a standout feature is the renowned Arundel Hospital.

World class health facility

A renowned institution offering world-class health services free of charge; in a country where quality healthcare is often inaccessible, Arundel Hospital has been a beacon of hope since 2020, aiding over 225,312 patients at no charge.

This reflects the foundation's deep commitment to positively impacting the lives of Zimbabweans.

 Moreover, the foundation's scope extends beyond healthcare and education, focusing on broader social transformation.

This includes initiatives that empower faith communities, educational institutions, and individuals.

A prime example of this is the Corporate Chaplaincy services.

Partnering with various companies, these services aim for holistic development and total wellness in the workplace, offering psycho-socio-spiritual support.

They play a crucial role in ensuring a balance between mental and spiritual health, vital for both personal well-being and professional success.

The Celestial Chorus Soiree ended with a vote of thanks from Mrs Sandra Tagwirei.

Her speech went beyond a formal vote of thanks, offering a heartfelt acknowledgment of the joy, spirituality, and sense of community that defined the soirée.

 One of the invited guests, Charity Mavhunduke, described the crossover experience as heavenly.

Another guest, Pastor Tenson Masomere, highlighted that for him and his wife, it was both a holiday and a praise and worship programme.

Everton Mlalazi remarked that the event was a celebration of life, incorporating local and regional gospel musicians.

Several attendees expressed a strong desire for The Celestial Chorus Soiree to be established as an annual iconic event, incorporating even larger numbers.

Hosting such a big event was necessitated by the need to share what Kuda Tagwirei experiences when he goes for holidays, hence everything was uniform from food to tables.

Over 700 employment opportunities were created for waiters, musicians and those that managed the stage during the event.

What a befitting way of crossing over into 2024 with more than 700 people happy to have earned something from a glamorous event.

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