Saturday was the day every student and every teacher involved in the Nyanza Regional Drama Festival was looking forward to as the last day to decide who put their very best leg forward to proceed to the national stage in Nairobi next month.
But the day started later than the programme indicated and soon the venue of Sameta High School in Kisii turned from jovial faces to cries and sadness, in regional turf wars that has left the girl child badly disenfranchised.
At some stage one of the participants from Ogande Girls had fainted from traumatic grief on learning that her school had been banned from performing upon disqualification by a festival official.
There was much more tears rolling down the cheeks of Lwak Girls who had been waiting for their turn to stage a much waited cultural creative dance.
Theirs too had suffered a similar fate – banished, without a chance to be seen on stage.
Notably Lwak Girls raised the bar in the creative dance category in the past three years winning the nationals in a dramatic fashion in Meru with a postmodernist presentation Sax-Vio-Guitar.
They had lodged out perennial winners Dagoretti High and Kakamega High from the top.
The Lwak dance title These Things emerged number one during the Siaya County Drama Festivals held at Jera High School two weeks ago.
The dance depicts a school girls rewarded with a tab by her parents after performing well in the KCPE national exams.
But instead of using it to advance her studies she takes to social media interacting with filthy and contaminating content and people.
At some stage she is too busy with her tech-tool that she fails to see a car veering off the road resulting to her being knocked and permanently disabled, physically.
Ogande Girls’ from Homa Bay County had also a winning a dance Akinyi that depicted a visually challenged girl whose parents make a decision to take her to a special school.
She learns pottery and opens a family business.
Because of her talent and extraordinary products, the business grows internationally and she brings immense wealth changing perception of society against blind children.
According o the Chairman of the Nyanza drama Committee Mr. Patrick Mak’Okite while there was case of lateness of the two groups coming, he had allowed the tempo perform at 2.30 pm.
“But when I went to ask Ogande Girls to come on stage from their waiting room in one of the classes, I was informed that a senior Quality Assurance officer had declared the two schools could not perform,” he explained.
Mr. Mak’Okite said he agreed with the decree because the festival had to end early to allow teams go back before 6.pm.
This explanation of ending the fete early as the cause was also given by the Nyanza Regional Coordinator Mr. Richard Limo who denied he sanctioned the group saying it was Mak’Okite’s Committee that suspended the two teams.
“I arrived at 4.pm and was informed that there were two teams that were in the compound but declined to show up on stage. So, I agreed with the decision to hasten the programme. I wanted to close it so children can go home early,” he said.
But officials other explanation of delay in submitting the dance scripts add to the confusion. Mr. Mak’Okite said his going to the changing room of the girls was to seek for the script that apparently had not been submitted to the officials for advance onward submission to Adjudicators.
When the results were finally announced Lions School produced by the National Vice Chairperson Madam Peninah Oketch won the now controversial category of cultural dance.
Nyamonye Girls came second and Nyakach Girls were third produced by Dora Okaalo who produced the play Shackles of Doom with Butere Girls and made history by making it to the nationals after a court order lifted a ban on the play five years ago.
“It is interesting that the ban has affected a dance giant in the festival. I am seeking for further details to know exactly what happened,” said the new Executive Secretary of the Kenya Schools and Colleges Drama Festival Mr. James Indimuli who was yet to be briefed by the Nyanza officials five hours after the shocking decision was taken against the two schools.
For now, the students are counting their losses from hours-long rehearsals, teamwork, voice training and foregoing regular study time as they wonder what fate has for them after a drastic and unilateral decision by an education official.
It wasn’t clear if the two schools were going to appeal against the decision.