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Cock and bull story? Ayub Alulu is Kakamega's king of cockfights

WESTERN
By John Shilitsa | October 14th 2021
Ayub Alulu Masakhwe earns a living through cockfighting. He is seen here psyching up the cockerels Alonde Senior and Vitina by playing the eshiriri before a fight at Bukura market in Lurambi during Utamaduni Day, last weekend. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

A white rooster scampers for safety as its opponent, a red cockerel charges at it in hot pursuit.

“His name is Alonde Senior, a tough and skilled fighter,” says Ayub Alulu, the owner of the aggressive red cock.

According to Alulu, any rooster that dares challenge Alonde Senior would be lucky to return home alive.

“He (Alonde Senior) is the reigning champion in Western. That’s a big deal for my six-year-old cock, it has taken six years of training and preparation,” he proudly declares.

Alulu is the self-proclaimed king of cock fight in Western. His prowess in breeding and training cockerels has earned him a name in the region. 

“This is a sport that has seen me brush shoulders with the high and mighty including top politicians, scholars and even learners who are curious to learn more about cockfighting.”

He has been involved in the sport for over 10 years. “Cockfighting is my source of livelihood – during the festive seasons, I showcase the sport and earn between Sh2,500 and Sh4,000 on a good day,” says Alulu.

Usually, Alulu stages cockfights at strategic venues in order to attract people. Earnings from the sport goes into paying his children school fees and fending for his family.

“I prefer showcasing the sport at market centres and other public places to attract as many people as possible,” he told The Standard.

His wife and children have been supportive.  “They accompany me wherever I go and take good care of the birds even when I am away.”

Alulu dons a traditional regalia including a special hat made from wild animal skin and leopard skin whenever he goes out to stage a cockfight.

Eshiriri, a popular string instrument and a whistle comes in handy.  “I entertain my cockerels with Eshiriri before any fight, the lyrics motivate the roosters because they have grown up listening to it every evening,” he explains.

The sound of a whistle prompts the cockerels into action. “They are highly disciplined and will wait patiently for instructions before they charge towards the opponent.”

As Kenyans celebrated Utamaduni Day, Alulu celebrated the day by staging a cockfight at Bukura Trading Centre grounds.

Given the bloody history of the sport, Alulu warned the hundreds of spectators who had gathered to witness the fight, as he let his two cockerels square it out.

“I will let Alonde Senior take on his son Junior. But I can bet Junior will opt out of the challenge, because just like in humans, animals rarely fight with their parents.”

And, true to his word, Junior bolted immediately the whistle was blown with Alonde Senior in hot pursuit. Alulu later stop the patronising cock from chasing after the younger rooster. 

“That’s enough. Leave him alone,” Alulu told Senior. But how does he communicate with the birds?

“I start training my roosters from days old. I single out male chicks from the rest and isolate them in order to undergo rigorous training from an early age,” said the cockfight king.

According to Alulu, the cocks are fed and brought up differently from the rest. 

“They grow up taking instructions every day and listening to the Eshiriri which I play every evening, they also find time to witness their seniors fight as part of the preparation and training.”

Alulu also claims he teaches them “sign language”. “When I talk to the cockerel and you see it nod or lift legs in turns, it shows he is in agreement with everything I say.”

Morris Omukanda, a resident of Bukura said he has been seeing Alulu and his fighting roosters from a young age.

“He took on this sport out of passion and talent which started to manifest at an early age,” said Omukanda, who is also a cockfight fanatic.

Although cockfighting has not been embraced in the country as a mainstream activity, Alulu believes the sport has huge potential. 

“It is an integral part of Luhya culture, and I would like to go into history books as a person who passionately promoted cockfighting with a view to preserving the culture we cherish,” he explains.

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