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Taarab, kaswida and oriental music colour festival

By George Orido | August 10th 2015
Thogoto Teachers Training College on stage with Kiswahili choral verse special speaking composition for Teachers Training Colleges in the on-going Music Festival in kisumu and emerged the winners in their category. 09 /8/15. PHOTO: TITUS MUNALA

For someone looking for truly cool and serenading music, Kisumu Boys High School was the place to be last weekend as students performed Coastal taarab music with beautiful melodies accompanied by instruments.

The theme in the lyrics was about education and basic rights.

The need to create the right environment, especially for the girl-child to get an education away from the ever-preying eyes of grown men ready to pounce, was emphasized.

"Mimi bado ni mdogo, niache niende shule. Unajifanya fadhili huku hulali ukipanga kuniwinda," (I am not yet of age, let me go to school. You hide in the title of a benefactor, while your mission is to hunt me down) went part of the lyrics by soloist Badru Abdallah from Binuru Memorial School in Kisauni, Mombasa.

Ekapuli Secondary performers were on a mission to have adults treat the girl-child with respect and dignity and pressed for equality between the girl and the boy in society.

Soloist Victor Morris from Muhuru Muchiri Secondary was a strong vocalist who composed his own song, a sign that the festival is coming of age with students writing their own music.

St Mary's Nyabera took the message further, saying that one of the stumbling blocks Kenyans face today as they endeavour to achieve universal education, was fraud.


In their piece Komesha Ugaidi, the girls, who won the category two years ago, were resolute that merit is the only way to get the best of brains for the right jobs.

Soloist Gloria Boke Paul left no doubt that she is headed for greater things, with her angelic voice assisted by narrators Mary Ghati, Phanindia Kerubo and Jescah Boke.

Huruma Girls were legend material in their flowing dresses as they took the audience through their entertaining dance, Mtukomee led by Linda Odhiambo and Grace Njeri.

Other schools that participated in this class that drew crowds included Tumu Tumu Girls, Khasoko Boys', Katoloni Girls', Our Lady of Mercy, Tharaka Nithi and Karuri Secondary, among others.

The universities' taarab presentation had its fair share of razzmatazz when Kenyatta and Maseno universities turned up with full bands and took nearly 15 minutes each too set up.

"There is a big improvement from last year's performance but universities will have to make their dresses longer for this class," commented adjudicator Ali Athman Mohammed from Lamu High School.

The evening also saw a rich display of the Islamic faith on stage as kaswida performances took centre stage well into the night.


Binuru won the kaswida and taarab categories in a major victory as Maina Wanjigi High School and Daraja Mbili came second and third respectively.

Zetech University from Nairobi were the only entrants in the kaswida category and emerged winners in a merited fashion after a great show.

The kaswida category was unique in that there were many Christian schools that took part in it, including St Paul's Githakwa and St Philip's Mkomani.

Others who participated include Passenger Secondary, Aprad High, Isiolo Boys', Muslim Girls' Mumias, Aldai Girls', Kinjo Girls', Kapkolei Girls' and Mwangeka High. And it was yet another series of colourful performances when oriental music was showcased. Ardha George from Melvin Jones of Nakuru won in two categories, including in the traditional Indian dance called Bharat Natyam.

The dance is an expression of Nava Rasas or nine expressions of the face including mercy, anger, joy, and love.

Bharal Natyam depicts a king who did not have a child and had to commit himself to prayer or face the chance of his dynasty dying.

Ardhra was in a class of her own and her secret that she goes to India every holiday to be trained by the able and experienced hands of Mathew Bindhu, in addition to her training from dance guru Bindhu.

"We are impressed by her talent and commitment. That is why we support her all the way," said her father George Scaria and mother Minimol George.

The biggest haul of trophies this year went to Arya Vedic School who won in many solo, group and dances categories.

"We are excited about the achievement, because a lot of effort has been put into this," said a joyful Vidya Chandrasekhar who was involved with the Arya team.

Our Lady Queen of Peace successfully defended the Oriental Group Dance category with their spectacular performance celebrating the birth of a new princess.

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