Wednesday, April 24, 2024

KOCHIA DANCERS: Emerging force in Kenya’s event entertainment scene

Loud drum beats, high pitched traditional flutes, shucking sounds of beads, and hooting sounds of horns.

This is the best description of a performance by Kochia Dancers.

The sound of the solo singer is not very clear, but the message is well painted in the neatly choreographed dance styles.

From high jumping men, to slow motion women, to sharp turns by the dancers, it is clear that this team is enjoying the performance.

And the attire? Oh Noo! This has no English word to explain. The multi-coloured slit-short trausers, head gears made of birds’ feathers, the traditional wrist bangles, the heavy shoes made of used car tires.

Clutching fly whisks, and sometimes faces painted in various colours. This is the definition of culture.

On Monday, the team was rehearsing ahead of scheduled performance at the Africities Conference in Kisumu on May 17.

We have been invited to perform in various national events in the country and abroad including at the Folklife Festival in the UK and the Smithsonian Folk Festival in Washington DC

Wyckliffe Ouma

The group has since become the face of major events in the country.

Their electric performance has seen them grace major events such as public holidays, economic forums and other cultural events.

Everywhere they go, the rhythmic jangling that accompanies their dance moves grabs attention.

With this splendid performance, their invitation to perform at the Africities summit was an easy choice for the organizers.

Where it all started

Kochia Dancers from Rangwe, Homa Bay County was formed in 1978 and have received invitations to perform both locally and abroad.

“We have been invited to perform in various national events in the country and abroad including at the Folklife Festival in the UK and the Smithsonian Folk Festival in Washington DC,” said their chairman Wycliffe Ouma.

We are ready to hit the stage as always and our ‘juogi’ (ancestral psyche) is at an all time high

Wycliffe Ouma

According to Ouma the group started with 30 members and has since shifted numbers over time.

The group has consistently become the face of major events in the country a job they say is hard to maintain.

Ouma who joined the team in 2008 after dropping out of Form One now serves as the lead soloist whenever the troupe is called upon to perform in various events.

Africities Summit

Three weeks ago the team leader received a call from the Africities secretariat that they will be performing at the summit.

The dancers have been selected to entertain guests during the summit that is scheduled for May 17 to 21.

At least 13 members of the crew will be showcasing the traditional Luo cultural dance moves to the delegates from all over the world.

The team now ready for the major performance have rehearsed for four days while camping in Kisumu.

“We are ready to hit the stage as always and our ‘juogi’ (ancestral psyche) is at an all time high,” said Ouma.

During an interview with Lake Region Bulletin the members revealed that they will be walking home with a six-figure reward.

No sex

According to the 31 year old team leader, for one to join the troupe, one must be 18 years of age.

And with a two months training, after a checking on whether one could master a simple dance move, you could be a member.

We pleading with the government or any well wisher to help us acquire a means of transport because that’s the major challenge we are currently facing

Ouma

A day before performance, the members are usually not allowed to have any sexual engagement as it is considered as a bad omen for the team.

On a typical performance day, the members pray before having their costumes decorated with ostrich feather head gears ‘anduwi’ as they warm they drums.

The troop then have a short rehearsal before the performance.

Transport

Apart from having their numbers reduced following the death of several members due to ill health, Kochia dancers are now seeking for a means of transport.

“We pleading with the government or any well wisher to help us acquire a means of transport because that’s the major challenge we are currently facing,” says Ouma.

The weekly merry go rounds between the members and coming through for one another according to them is what keeps them together.

As they seek more performances the dances also wish to have more shows outside the country to showcase the African culture.

Austine Ogalohttp://www.lakeregionbulletin.co.ke
Lake Region Bulletin is your one stop multi-media platform for news and stories from the Lake Region counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Homabay ,Migori, Siaya, Kissi,Nyamira, Vihiga, Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Kericho and Bomet email:ogalo@lakeregionbulletin.co.ke austineogalo02@gmail.com

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