A song by Father Aurélien, priest in Chastre, is a hit on TikTok: “it’s unexpected and it goes beyond the religious sphere” (VIDEO)

A buzz? A box ? Or rather a blessing? The word that best describes the story of Father Aurélien Saniko is perhaps the latter. In the eyes of the person concerned, it is even a certainty.

Aurélien Saniko at work in his studio in Gentinnes. ©EdA Mathieu Golinvaux

A Belgian priest of Cameroonian origin, installed at the Kongolo Memorial in Gentinnes, Aurélien Saniko has been everywhere in the French-speaking media lately. His song how not to praise you has, in fact, passed into the hands of all (or almost) nightclub DJs. From the least known to the most famous, from David Guetta to Bob Sinclar, to name but a few. They all spin it on their turntables in front of crowds of delirious young people in nightlife establishments. On TikTok where the “sensation” started, and other social networks, the views are counted in the millions. Thousands of shares and remixes.

“It’s crazy,” laughs Father Aurélien watching the video via the TikTok account he recently created to enjoy the buzz.

60 million views on TikTok and covers by DJs David Guetta and Bob Sinclar

Nevertheless, how not to praise you is a song that the priest-musician wrote a long time ago. To thank the Lord. “I lived in Douala, Cameroon, when I was little, next to the church. I played the piano, on my little Bontempi, from an early age, he says. When I was 13, I was affected by a mysterious disease, probably neurological, which caused me memory loss. After a year of hardship, I miraculously recovered and I got it into my head to thank God. I also wanted to say thank you to him for what he does for the people around me. Father Eby Richard, from my church, told me: “Write him a song”. I thought the idea was great.”

how not to praise you had just been born. “I first proposed the song to my parish. Then I re-recorded it on cassette players. It was slowly exported to other churches, cities and countries in Africa. Much later, in the 2000s, I made a recording of it thanks to a professional friend. Then, in 2009, I shot the clip in the streets of Douala (see below, editor’s note) .”

The priest-musician is having fun with the success he has had on apps like TikTok. ©EdA Mathieu Golinvaux

We are at the beginning of the year 2023. The song was taken up on TikTok by a choir from Kinshasa. The “likes” and “shares” are linked. With the sequel that we now know. “The French channel BFMTV was the first to question me, at the end of January. Since then, it hasn’t really stopped (laughs) . Even the Flemish media write regarding me…”

And for good reason: more than 60 million views on TikTok, its clip which borders on 3.5 million views on YouTube. “It’s unexpected and it goes beyond the religious sphere. How to explain it? I think, first of all, that this music – inspired by makosa, a lively Cameroonian rhythm that is very widespread in the country – makes people want to move. It’s a sound that federates, that makes you smile. Behind that, the lyrics are simple, the tune is joyful. It’s a hymn to love, to sharing…”

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Everyone gets it. There are many of them, from all backgrounds and all faiths, to thank Aurélien Saniko since the “re-emergence” of the piece. “Many Muslims write to me to tell me that they like my music, even though it was originally part of a Catholic church. Jews too. Atheists. Old people, young people. Whites, blacks, etc. A lady left me a moving message saying that following the death of her mother, my song eased her pain. A Muslim woman said to me: “I love your song and I don’t want it to go out of my head “.”

An unexpected success and which therefore breaks down many barriers for a song, until then, mainly known to Catholics…

“It’s wonderful. I was born to evangelize and bring people together. And with this song, my purpose, as well as God’s, is achieved: everyone comes together to shout – in a world where conflicts are unfortunately multiply – a common language, that of love. And I am convinced that the religion of the future will be the religion of love…”

A goal achieved and a dream to be realized, for Aurélien Saniko. “I appeal to Stromae, Angèle, Big Flo & Oli and all these great artists from everywhere: contact me and let’s revisit this song together, translate it, share it together. Let’s go, why not, sing it in Russian and in Ukrainian, on the border of these two warring countries. Let’s make it something beautiful, a hymn to love and peace!”

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Popular “covers” on TikTok:

When David Guetta remixes “how not to praise you”

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The Kabambare High School choir who “popularized” the song on TikTok:

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Atmosphere in a church:

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Music, Father Aurélien sees it as a way to make young people (re)love religion. “The time for Gregorian music in churches is over, sorry to say…” ©EdA Mathieu Golinvaux

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