Two bulls and Khalwale crown rowdy event
By Allan Kisia
It was like a brawl to the death. Two large bulls puffed and huffed as they gored each other furiously, raising a cloud of dust.
There is no ringside boundary at Malinya ground where the contest was as surging crowds and cheering, frenzied spectators followed the bulls at their heels.
The only way to follow the scene of the brawl from a safe distance was by watching the movement of the thickest part of the crowd.
After about ten minutes from the start of the action, screams and booing followed a stampede. One bull had lost the fight and it was taking off, tearing its way through the crowd. The contest was over, but few people had seen the ‘blow-by-blow’ details apart from those who had risked to remain close.
A rowdy scene as spectators cheer at Malinya during a bull fighting contest. Photo: Benjamin Sakwa/Standard
Hundreds of villagers had trooped from neighbouring districts to Malinya grounds in Ikolomani for the afternoon spectacle.
The event was unique as the usual crowd of village spectators had been joined by dignitaries, led by Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Tourism Minister Najib Balala.
Also in the entourage were Housing Minister Soita Shitanda, Assistant minister Manyala Keya and Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale, the latter nick-named ‘bull fighter’, as he is a seasoned promoter of the bovine circus.
When Khalwale’s favourite bull, Luviru arrived in a commotion to take on burly Shichonchonjio, the MP left the VIP dais and rushed to the field brandishing twigs and cheering wildly alongside villagers.
Mudavadi and Balala were in stitches, but they clearly wanted to watch from afar.
The field was soon covered with a cloud of dust as two groups danced and sang songs in support of their favourite bull.
Isikuti dancers moved up and down the field consumed in a frenzied jig.
It was a ten-minute contest before Shichonchonjio surrendered and fled, surging through the crowd amid laughter and boos of disapproval.
Khalwale and his group rushed to stop Luviru from pursuing Shichonchonjio. Triumphant bulls have in the past killed their opponents if the crowd does not separate them.
The Ikolomani MP and his team, coated in dust, escorted the victorious bull to the podium to ‘present’ it to the dignitaries.
After a few minutes of jubilation, Luviru was taken away with a wreath of leaves draped around its neck, which it appeared to disregard by munching away at it.
In his speech, Balala said the Government will endorse bullfighting as a top tourist attraction of the region.
"From the attendance at this event, the Government cannot afford to ignore bullfighting as a major tourist attraction," said the minister.
A Sh25 million stadium, to host bullfighting events, is under construction at Malinya, where the annual event attracts thousands of fans from across Western Province.
The event, an ancient tradition practiced among the Luhya community, is held throughout the year in almost all parts of the province.
Balala said the sport has become a trademark for countries like Spain where men (matadors) fight bulls.
"The world goes to Spain to watch such events. Why can’t we transform bullfighting from a village affair to a booming business?" posed the minister.
Bullfighting in Western is usually the climax of celebrations to mark national and local celebrations.
At the venue, crowds will cheer and praise their favourite bull. Some will have placed bets with financial value.
Balala announced that the Government had embarked on an ambitious programme to endorse western Kenya as a tourist destination.
The Tourism Minister said the Government will next week send a team of officers to establish potential that has remained untapped.
He said the officers will also establish infrastructure that supports tourism in the region.
"The Western circuit has a lot of potential that remains largely unexploited," said the minister.
Mudavadi said the Government’s was committed to endorsing western Kenya as a leading tourist destination.
He said a conference scheduled for next month on investment in the region will discuss local tourism.
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