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Judah's Musical Journey

Hello Everyone, my name is Amalina and I write for Innustame. Here is my piece on meeting Judah Onesimus in Prague! Originally from around Bondo, Kenya, living in Nairobi, 24-year-old Judah, is studying the trumpet at the Prague Conservatory, Prague, Czech Republic. It is a music school established in 1808, one of the oldest of its kind in Europe! In this blog piece, Judah shares how his love for God, music and his optimism and hard work have allowed him to serve a higher purpose and represent his country while studying in a new city and country.

Judah Onesimus, 24-year old student and musician

Why and how did you choose to study in Prague?

It chose me. I didn’t choose it.

Judah shares that his decision to study at the Prague Conservatory was not exactly planned. Two days after graduating from his undergraduate programme, a friend of Judah’s shared with him about a music programme and scholarship in Prague. Judah applied for it with no expectations and he got in! While he had heard of Prague before, it was not a city that had ever crossed his mind to study in.

Now having spent 7 months in Prague, Judah finds that the city’s architecture is one of his favourite things about the city. This is understandable as Prague is known for its fairytale-like atmosphere. He also finds that transportation is very efficient and that he likes the people as they are quite friendly.

What was it like moving from Bondo to Prague?

It was smooth and apart from the winter, it was really fun!

Despite the change in climates and challenging visa situation, Judah found the transition from Kenya to the Czech Republic to be seamless and enjoyable, accrediting it to his initial exposure to Western culture.

Judah shares that he had come along to Prague with three other Kenyan students and together they would initially eat food from an Asian restaurant nearby. While that kept them sustained for a few months, they eventually learned how to make home-cooked meals.

Coming from Kenya, western influence is a familiar culture to settle into.

The western culture was not unfamiliar to him or his life in the African continent. He finds that western culture is more apparent as it is culture that he has been exposed to in the media as well as the education that is western influenced. He shares that if it was a country in Asia, he may have found it more difficult and it is not a strong culture to which he has gotten much exposure, but the food he did enjoy.

Judah acknowledged that while the visa application process was tedious, it was something to be expected and that if you had all the required documents and applied in time, the outcome for a visa would be positive.

How do you see your education in Prague fitting into your future career goals and aspirations?

Prague is one of the cultural centers of Europe, essentially. And so it's a very good springboard.

Judah in Prague

As a musician, Judah finds that Prague provides a great opportunity to gain musical experience and opportunities. It is a city with a rich culture and history, especially in the music scene.

As a musician, have you experienced and considered other parts of the world in their contributions to the culture of music?

My experience might be more on the online level…

Coming to Prague was Judah’s first time travelling outside of Kenya. He shares that while he has not travelled to other parts of the world he finds that his intercultural exchange experience is discovered online. The internet has provided him with a “whole palette of cultures”, making him desire to explore and experience as many cultures as possible. At the same time, he is keen to share his music and sounds from Kenya, while also absorbing inspiration and influences from other musicians and cultures.

Have you faced any challenges in your studies and music, and how did you overcome them and stay motivated?

Judah is an example of optimism and passion, as when asked if he has faced any challenges, he answers that he does not consider most things a challenge.

While he understands that the music school has a competitive environment and demands a lot of work from its students, it is something that he has been looking forward to.

It truly pushes you to grow.

He does not consider the competition or workload a struggle or challenge but instead sees it as an opportunity that has inspired a lot of growth in him, even in the seven months that he has been there. He also shares that his want and love for music do not make it stressful. The other students in the school are also very talented and that pushes him to learn more to match up to them in some ways.

And wanting to do this at my most excellence, to do it for God. So that's probably the biggest motivation.

Most importantly, his identity as a Christian motivates him to do his best for God. He understands that to some extent he is carrying his country on his shoulders and representing his culture, this motivates him even more to create and bring connections back home.

What have been your experiences with being a Christian in Prague?

Judah shares that his search for a community was short and sweet. He had found multiple churches online and was going to visit a few before he made a final decision. On one Sunday, he decided to visit one on his list, tucked in between a group of Catholic churches. Upon entering, he was greeted by a diverse community and immediately felt at home: It is a really beautiful community, with a lot of nations represented. I think of it as an ideal of what there will be in heaven: people from all nations, all tribes.

Who are your favourite musicians? How does your culture influence your music and learning?

When asked this question, Judah was quick to share his mix of favourite trumpeters worldwide. From renowned jazz trumpeter, Wynton Marsalis from the United States of America to Lucienne Renaudin Vary, a young 24-year-old from France. Other names also included South African vocalist and trumpeter, Mandisi Dyantyis and Nigerian gospel songwriter, Nathaniel Bassey.

Judah goes on to explain that the rhythms and blues from his culture, influence his music. However, most of all, it would be his religion which ultimately shapes the music that he writes. So much so that Judah has recorded and written an album of hymns called Echoes Of Mercy which has been released on Spotify!

What would you say to aspiring young musicians today in their search for international musicians who reflect many different multicultural contexts in the world?

Judah believes that searching for international musicians has more of a snowball effect. He emphasizes the internet's abundance of new talent and music. Also, turning to your friends for suggestions and recommendations is another avenue to explore.

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