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Songs of praise

Litia Cava
Thursday, November 02, 2017

QALO Rokotakala was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago. She was told by doctors that she was going to live for only a few months.

However, the 69-year-old still continues to enjoy the company of her grandchildren, great-grandchildren and her other loved ones.

After her operation in 2006, she believed God had healed her from the cancer so she decided to form a gospel group in Suva.

Mrs Rokotakala, commonly known as "Pu Qalo", said she wanted to praise God through gospel praises for healing her from the deadly disease.

The group, known as the Drodrolagi Tehilla Choir consists of local and overseas gospel singers who are from different Christian denominations.

The choir group is attached to the lay pastors of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma and has become a hit on the local gospel arena.

Pu Qalo is also the music composer for the Methodist Church.

She was awarded a scholarship by the church to study music in London.

"I believe God gave this to me as a gift and I will continue to use it as a form of evangelism and also teach people who want to know music," she said.

"Music is a powerful tool and for me I use it to glorify God and to thank Him for His love and goodness."

Drodrolagi is the iTaukei word for rainbow.

The rainbow in the biblical context signifies a new beginning, a promise made by God that He will never flood the Earth again.

As for Pu Qalo, she had her own storms to endure and this included her battle against cancer.

She says it is through the grace and will of God that saved her from the disease that has claimed the lives of people around the world.

She said in reciprocating her being saved, she organised the choir to give thanks and sing praises (tehilla) to the giver of life.

"This choir was formed in 2006 through an experience which I went through. I was diagnosed with cancer," Mrs Rokotakala said.

"After the operation and everything, I wanted to form a choir so I wrote to the choir members. They received my letter of invitation to come and join this choir, and it consisted of 30 names.

"We met in November 2006 and we started off with learning and singing Christmas carols and after three to four weeks, we started recording and the first album was released that same year.

"All these choir members are not professional singers so I take my time to teach them well in singing hymns, the proper way of singing and how to read tonic sol-fah musical but we do not use or be accompanied with musical instruments.

"We love to sing in worship, when somebody invites us for worship we know that's our area. We are invited to funerals, weddings, birthdays, baptism, normal worship and church gatherings for different villages and churches."

Now with more than 50 members around Fiji and overseas, the Drodrolagi Tehilla Choir continues to capture people's attention with their melodious tunes.

"For our nine recordings, we had a set which was sold but most of it was given free to those who requested a copy. It was not much because we loved singing and do dual recordings and once it's gone out,we do not do any repeats," said Mrs Rokotakala.

"We do not sell most of the copies as it was only limited, it is not like a business matter."

The group is well known for their songs, Bambelela, Amen, and Happy.

As the choir group continues to reach out to people through their music, Pu Qalo said she also wanted to inspire gospel singers.

"When we sing to the Lord, especially church music, we must understand that we are part of evangelising people through singing and we should do our best and we must be truthful and loyal to the gift that has been given to us by God," she said.

"We must commit ourselves to the work that we do because it is not man's work, it is God's work and He will bless us not only with the work that we do but most importantly how we conduct our work, and that is on whether we are truthful and honest with it."

The Drodrolagi Tehilla Choir will celebrate its 10th anniversary next month, which will bring together some of the pioneer members who have left the group.

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