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Kenyan singing sensation wins 2013 Sing a Malay Song Competition

23 December 2013, by Onalethata Mogale

Kenyan singing sensation wins 2013 Sing a Malay Song Competition

Limkokwing University OF Creative Technology final year Architecture student, Mbasu Benard Okaro from Kenya, wowed the crowd with his golden voice at this year’s ‘Sing a Malay Song Competition (PALMA 2013)’ on the 30th November, held at the Perdana Angkasapuri Auditorium.

Limkokwing University OF Creative Technology final-year architecture student, Mbasu Benard Okaro from Kenya, wowed the crowd with his golden voice at this year’s ‘Sing a Malay Song Competition (PALMA 2013)’ on the 30th November, held at the Perdana Angkasapuri Auditorium.

His rendition of ‘Dwihati’, a duet by Malaysian singers Aizat and Yuna, scooped him the Overall Champion of the competition, winning RM10,000 in prize money. He also impressed the judges to win ‘Best Vocals’, ‘Best Performance’, and the ‘Jury Selection’ awards, winning RM1,000 for each award. On top of the RM13,000 total prize money, he also took home a trophy and a certificate.

The ecstatic Okaro, popularly known as ‘Ben’, said that although he was confident in his singing and performance, the overwhelming win of all the categories was a huge surprise.

“I knew I had a good chance. I hoped to win in at least one category. I am pleasantly surprised with the outcome,” he said.

He plans on investing the prize money into furthering his studies, as he plans on continuing for a Master’s degree after he graduates next year.

Though he had never really tried learning the Malay language before, he entered the competition as a way to challenge his singing ability.

“I love music and singing, and I saw the competition as an opportunity to challenge myself through singing in a different language.”

He says he started singing when he was still in high school in Kenya, at a youth convention with an audience of more than 1,500 and says he has come a long way since then.

“It has become easier taking the stage over the years, I have learnt to be confident in performing for a large crowd,” he said.

Even though his course of study and his passion for singing may seem at odds, he says he finds the most harmony in them because they have similar patterns.

“Music and architecture are actually similar, when you look at buildings, you see rhythm, and repetition, which is also present in music,” he said.

The ‘Sing a Malay Song Competition’ is an annual event organized by the National Department for Culture and Arts, under the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture. This year’s event had 126 foreigners from 32 countries trying their luck, but only 10 were selected for the final performance.

It was coined as a platform to promote the Malay language as an official liaison to the world through language acculturation, as well as to promote patriotism and pride among Malaysian citizens for their language.

Limkokwing University is no stranger to the competition, with interior design student, Olivier Ng Tat Chung from Mauritius winning the Championship and Best Vocals award in the 2012 competition.

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