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Celebrating African Song & Dance with Umoja – The Spirit of Togetherness

Celebrating African Song & Dance with Umoja – The Spirit of Togetherness

By Matunda Nyanchama

October 10, 2005

This weekend I had a chance to watch one of the most beautiful displays of African song and dance I have ever seen. The Umoja show (www.umojatheshow.com) is on its second Canadian tour, currently running at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto. It reminds me of Ipi Ntombi, another equally entertaining and successful musical from the 1970s. This resemblance is not by coincidence. Umoja’s creators Todd Twala and Thembi Nyandeni, whose lives appear intertwined since childhood, are veterans of other South African musicals, including Ipi Ntombi.

The show is a display of energetic dance, powerful drumming and rhythm. It is a story of the evolution of South African music over time; music with origins in rural South Africa, influenced by urban tastes and modulated by effects of the oppressive apartheid environment. It is an entertaining tale to behold and every minute of it was worth it!

The narration starts with traditional life in rural Africa: a place of traditional rituals of initiation, courting, marriage and celebrations of harvest. It is the land of powerful Sangomas (spiritual diviners) and warrior culture of strong men and energetic women. Celebrations are a display of African beauty in the song, dance and costume. Central to this is powerful drumming. In the words of the program blurb: “War, birth, death, marriage and festivities … all these ceremonies are underscored with the thunder of drums…” for “the drums of Africa are powerful, they speak to your blood, your heart and your soul …”

The narrator then takes us to Durban where rural music from many parts converges in an urban environment. Here competition is held between dance styles/forms from various parts of the country. Rather than being a clash of “civilizations”, there is synthesis and blending that creates a new milieu of moves, gyrations and costume.

Johannesburg (Egoli) presents its own uniqueness: chaotic hustle and bustle of work, hawking, drinking, conman ship and seduction. It is a scene to behold as agents of apartheid enforce pass laws and limit Africans’ potential and reach! This environment breeds its own forms of entertainment with illegal entertainment outlets (the shebeens) and where Shebeen queens rule! And African music, song and dance thrives in spite of apartheid and urban chaos, blended and modulated by the unique environment in which it exists.

Meanwhile economic conditions dictate that men migrate to seek work in the mines, where they are not allowed to bring their families. They have to leave their women and children in rural areas or segregated African enclaves! Apartheid, however, cannot stop the evolution of music to capture festivities, sorrow and pain of folks torn apart by an inhuman system. Music thrives among the women as they do their chores – fetching water and firewood, and cooking for and feeding their families.

Meanwhile, music flourishes at the mines as men find ways to entertain themselves, if only to relieve stress and circumvent the oppression and exploitation; gumboot dancing is born, and in the words of the blurb: “because [miners] were forbidden to speak while they worked … found a way to communicate non-verbally with each other and to entertain themselves … after work.” No matter where one is, no matter the conditions, one cannot stop the match of music.

Churches are not spared in this music evolution. With a gospel explosion, European and American hymns are blended with African flavours to create unique music forms and ways of worship.

Umoja captures the changes that come with the passage of time over generations. With modernization and globalization the music assumes new forms. However, the thundering of African drumming continues, men and women gyrate in provocative dance forms and the music continues to touch the soul, even as costumes are transformed. As the ageing narrator looks back to his times of youth, he offers insight about what has changed: places, times and actors. It is a “oneness” (umoja) that one can feel, and even touch. Otherwise what is music for other than what it has always been for? War, birth death, marriage, festivities …

Umoja is entertaining and you will get value for your time and money. You would also have contributed to another cause: providing employment for the actors in the musical for, as the blurb says of the founders: one of Umoja’s objectives was to provide an outlet for talented unemployed youth in South Africa.

NB: Umoja runs till October 30, 2005 at the Elgin theatre; November 3 – 13, 2005 in Windsor and November 29 – December 31, 2005 in Vancouver. Tickets can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.ca. One can also order the DVD and CD of the music from www.umojatheshow.com.

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Dr. Matunda Nyanchama (mnyanchama@aganoconsulting.com) is a computer security professional working in Canada and past president of the Kenyan Community Abroad (KCA)

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Comments

Comment from kabatini
Time: December 2, 2008, 9:23 pm

Is there space in your blog for me?
Please edit it for me- am dead beat.
Thank you
justus

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RE: The Gusii Genocide and the Rise of Ethnic Cleansing.
http://www.kisii.com/portal/index.php?/Blog-Files/Stop-Abagusii-Genocide.html
Kabatini Dekoi
Toronto, Canada.
2008

http://www.kisii.com/portal/index.php?/Blog-Files/Stop-Abagusii-Genocide.html

As an Omogisii in the Diaspora, I am responding on the gusii genocide situation.

I saw the story on KTN (Kenya Television Network) news website. And if my mind serves me right, the same television network which is the mother station of independently owned television stations was initially a brainchild of another mkisii. This culminated to other brains that have seen a mushroom of other individually owned stations.

Apparently, the same station was quietly swindled away from the individual without due compensation whatsoever. It is beyond reasonable doubt that our small but exponentially expanding community is unequivocally marginalised in the national scene.

The recent ended Olympic Games in Beijing, China, sort of opened my eyes. Why we were not represented in a majority of events? I.e. swimming and yet there are many waters in our region? Ask yourself why. For example, how many swimming pools are there e.i in the entire mogusii land? The answer will astonish you .Please do find out.

Those agriculturally potential highlands not only produce coffee, tea, bananas, legumes, vegetables and fruits are experiencing the same hardships despite the turning of a brand new era. We highly contribute in the tourism sector with our beautifully crafted soap stones.-I find it a reap off.

These same snags that a few in the Diaspora can manage to elucidate, rather they are trying includes among others, the likes of Dr. Matunda Nyanchama and co. Fr.Awr, in his annotations titled “Stop the gusii Genocide”, has clearly, and lamely accused a son of our community.

Dr.Matunda is among the very few distinguished, hard working, down to earth individuals that are making marks globally. Among other accomplishments, he was part of the genius behind the Kenyan Community Abroad and President which saw the consolidation of Kenyans and other African states abroad. He worked solidly, with other leaders across the borders until 2003, when he retired from the position.

Critics allege he retired due to the extensive travel, planning and organizing involved in running the huge volunteering task as President.

Fr.Awr, Dr.Matunda is not working alone (writing), There are other several writers trying their best to give back to their community in the diasporas and at home. Our tears to the beloved mother are never felt. That is what I deduce from commentaries. As an information connoisseur, he in full swing orchestrated a successful Computer Institution in Nairobi that is giving the much needed food of thought to the Kenyan Youth.

Preservation of our culture, Call on the youth and caution on HIV/ AIDS as “it is a ticking time bomb”, Outsourcing employment specifically in his area of expertise among other initiatives.

What we as writers require is critically thought-out, Constructive critisms, feedback, encouragement or advice, and a solution if any in our work. Please ensure that you have that when writing your next posting. We are trying to plead with others on the situation of things as we see them (relative to our country of birth)

We have exertions too, apart from drinking from the cup of false hope, dual citizenship that our leaders need to take into account along with others .There have been promises, just like the stalled constitutional review that was promised ages ago. Our leaders promised it in six months, but the way I see it, they are all afraid of the changes it will bring- One will loose his/her ” jobo” when the bells of ……..”Vote of no confidence” starts ringing, huh! Abubu Namwamba’s dream of an official grand opposition should therefore be uplifted as part of the long term solution to previous unnamed circumstances.

The plains(Gusii) are not only cut off during heavy rainy seasons , rather the leadership that has been there, no names please…..have not fulfilled the requirements—I’ll rephrase— Have not been presenting the populations grievances as per needed. A few have tried, like the little known or forgotten Late. Morara, (who was he, what did he do, what happened to him) Prof. George Sagini, Onyonka, and Mogunde Anyieni among others. We are not getting what we deserve. Is there a road or anything that has Moseti Anyona’s name..Current of cause? I do not have a clue.

With the hefty pay package the President has offered to the honourable members of the August house, I marvel what they are doing with it. Where is their grass root transparency? Does a local MP have an office in his constituency? Maybe hook up a phone line, have access to the internet, or maybe a secretary that writes the peoples’ grievances, to be tabled through to parliament? What is the job description of a local MP beside preside over the famed CDF funds among a few mileage adding initiatives? Do our MP’s have websites to show their progress, plans or agenda? Or some sort of secure progress report portfolio? Are they (MP’s accessible by the constituents, or the best time to catch up with them is during the “Campaigns periods”?

Is the government failing the people? There seem to be inadequacies in social programs, misinformation-Lack of proper communication of government support services to the less fortunate. “Less well to do’ or the government isn’t reaching out enough to these individuals. Are there divisions among individuals (social clusters)?

Blame game politicking that the Minister of Education is failing is part and parcel of the tribal connotations that divide us.
There seems to be a sinister motive in that accusation.

Basics.

With an expanding population, there come several calamities. Persistent Witch craft, among others are what need to be addressed. I have been asking family and friends on these topics, but no one has spoken well about it. All they know is that, there are people practising this backward custom. Most of them are resentful and hate driven, poor (structured) uneducated, have never traveled beyond their local community (affordable local tourism) and are generally surrounded with poverty
t-far reaching conversation. . No solutions or hope surrounds them.

It is a fact that the few connected within the community might have the advantage of accusing the innocent, thereby instigating lynching as was the case in May 2008, where eight women and three men were viciously attacked and put to death. The trend has been going on for ages. It is true there are those that partake in these blasphemous operations, whereby they torment and often succeed in killing those amongst us that are focussed and willing to partake in life’s journey. This violation of human rights happens all over the world including developed countries.

Apart from sharing common ancestral genes and intermarriages, the abagusii peoples hold names that are closely knitted to dholuo. Names like Ouko, mboya, ouma, aoko, ongoro, oburu, otieno, we have a long history that predates centuries of trade and warfare as co-habitats.

The lake side people also have the same evil, Juju as I have come to learn. It is called chiira, or Nyawawa. While we have night runners and other powerful witches undertaking their nocturnal evil meetings, putting curse potions and other evil remedies, we should remember the power of prayer. There exists Good VS Evil, Light Vs Darkness. Consult the other book, you will find out that man was created from earth, while jinni’s (evils spirits) are formed off fire.

Ancestral priests, sages and other sooth Sayers have since faded away who used to cleanse bad spirits through invocation of our forefather’s .This should be revived. There was something important is that helm of power within the local population. He was seen as the spiritual leader, both rainmaker, and a chief resident within the council of elders. Among other duties, he curried the mandate of overseeing inter-marriages; land issues grazing rights, land distribution among other communal issues such as declaring war and peace making.

Legend also has it that there are good spirits that are unstoppable, once evil is wrongly done to a good man; we should guard against that at all costs.

Culturally, women have been discriminated against as unequal to the male species, which is not the case here in the High seas, but a complete opposite. Issues such as land inheritance (male dominated), accessibility to adequate funding, and the social service sector have rarely been discussed openly. The very few connected are reaping the tax payers money with no remorse.

The poor state of hospitals with dealing in emergency situation and outbreaks (both water and airborne) should also be ratified. It goes well beyond the abagusii as a whole. Doctors are operating their own private practise, thereby preying on the poor. This is where the government needs to step up their game. Don’t get me wrong, I know that there will work being done about these.

The roads situation has greatly improved, as I am told, but the same sources quote that more needs to be done. The 60 feet (axle) trucks can not cruise well into the interiors- What does that mean to the common mwananchi? He/she does not have access to a variety of goods- what of services? You tell me. Can someone tell me what the Army is doing? These are a huge labour force that can easily build skyscrapers’ and modern bridges as flyovers are rarely an African endeavour.

Tsetse fly infestation, vaccination, AIDS pandemic, Malaria and Cholera outbreaks, Animal husbandry, zero grazing, Artificial Insemination and other veterinary services such as Inoculation, Immunization etc among other proper management of our little resources needs to be taken back to the common man.

We(abagusii) are also not getting enough fish in our (the) :**diet of the crying Omogisii;** it is therefore my humble plea that some sort of swimming pool, fish rearing communally constructed to cater to this good people. It could be done by the banks of our flowing rivers. A small pit, for example, say 7 by 10 feet, could rear about 500 fish. These will greatly increase quarterly, with good rains. I like the Nile Basin Initiative. The people of Ukambani and Kakuma will soon enjoy the sweet waters of Lake Victoria.

What sort of entertainment goes around this population? It is a though to our leaders.

The annual community event, organized by the immediate former Member of Parliament fro Nyaribari Chache, honourable Nyachae around the harvest period should be transcend to all locations in our land. Our culture is slowly weaning; therefore we require passing the baton from the older to the young.

In my constituency, Bassi, (in 1996), there were merely 4 female students in public Universities in Kenya. Why is that? Don’t we have enough Lecturers in higher Education? We have totally forgotten the little know former Vice Chancellor Dr. Ombosa; who died mysteriously. Seems there is a trend going on within our community.

The Transmara border clashes are also a matter to be dealt with by the leaders from the two sides. I do not have a clue about the other end of the dholuo border, though I am certain they are having skirmishes. The killings, as one has mentioned has been going on from time immemorial. Cases of cattle rustling from both sides, the land issues viz cultivation and grazing rights areas often flicker tempers and warfare.

o The pastoralists/nomadic community should be encouraged to rear a few manageable numbers of livestock, while making use of ploughs, as heavy machinery is not only expensive but problematical. This will mean an expansion of the jua Kali sector.

o As compared to where we live, a large scale plantation of Napier grass should be established with secured bore holes surrounding targeted areas. Compensation incentives geared towards these projects should also be put in place as those poor peasants relay on land as a major resource in their lively wood.

o A form of irrigation scheme should be organised to support these endeavour. If Somaliland, where an old grandmother is able to assemble, disassemble and reload an AK47 rife in the darkness can successfully operate Gezira irrigation scheme without foreign interference, then we should also follow suit. Initiatives like those of the young lawyer from North Eastern should be encouraged. Start small, maybe one pressure pump, a generator and some pipe line. IT is very feasible.

o Encourage some sort of barter trade as money is hard earned in several parts of the country.

o Expansion and safe guarding of air transport- we (Abagusii) need an airstrip, as the landing strip does not cater well enough for the rich agricultural potential in the area.

I spoke to a leader from the Maasai community, Ole Maasai, and he bravely alleged that ,”the war there should be seen as a soccer match between the boys from each sides, and every young man has to participate in the old age ritual like those before us”. What a wonderful piece of courage! Eh? That is where I am from. Let’s all remember that we can not hold down the future, and we are al presidents-“but” we only need that “One man”, with that good dream to lead us into the brand new millennium in the ICT age.

“Bahati ya mwenziwe, usiilalie mlango wazi”, “

http://www.kisii.com/portal/index.php?/Blog-Files/Stop-Abagusii-Genocide.html

Confirm receipt

Thank you

Comment from Eka–ti mogonchoro
Time: January 25, 2009, 8:22 pm

Ethnic group: Western Bantu
Location: South-western Kenya, south of Kavirondo Gulf, Kisii District
Language: Ekegusii (a.k.a. Kikisii)
Population: 1,318,409 (1993)
Religious Customs: 82% Christian, 18% traditional religion
Economic Activities: Agriculture, carving

The Kisii, or Gusii, claim Mogusii as their founder, and have taken their name from him. From Mogusii they track back to his great-great-great-grandfather Kintu (alias Muntu, Mundu or Wantu) as the leader of the migration of the Bantu. The ancestral Gusii population entered western Kenya from Uganda and then moved on from the foothills of Mount Elgon towards their present lands. On the way, for two generations, they stayed at Goye Bay, by Lake Victoria then they moved first to the Kano plains and later, to their present location due to the expansion of the Luo and the Maasai and Kuria from 1540 to the colonial times.

When in the plains the Gusii experienced a process of evolution from individual family units, sufficient unto themselves, towards more inclusive groupings, interdependent membership in larger entities with distinct identities. Clans began to come into being. Association during the migration from Kisumu under the different warrior leaders resulted in the eventual development of sub-groups amongst the Gusii, and these in turn incorporated the clans.

A family head was still responsible for making the daily decisions in and around his homestead, but a clan leadership was starting to emerge in the person of the most senior member of the most influential family. Clan and subgroup consciousness of membership in entities with distinct identities was fostered by the identification of group founders with animal totems – leopards, zebras, etc. Kinship and membership in the same totem group became synonymous. The Kisii Highlands, fifty kilometres from Lake Victoria and two thousand metres above sea level are now where the Gusii live. The hills may seem cold, but they are fertile, and watered with close to a metre and a half of rain.

The Gusii exploit their highland environment for cash crops, such as pyrethrum and tea, and for other agricultural products, such as millet, maize, cassava, bananas and much else. Little uncultivated land remains. Kisii District is one of the most densely populated areas of Kenya, with 304 people per square kilometre. The Gusii have undergone great changes environmental, economic and other – in the course of their cultural evolution. Yet certain traits from the past persist.

Whenever and wherever possible, livestock is still kept. Children continue to be initiated into adulthood and into the Gusii as a group by circumcision and clitoridectomy. The crafts of basketry and pottery are practised throughout Gusii. Like the crafts of making lyres and other musical instruments, they may have been influenced generations ago originally by the Luo. Perhaps the best known products of their crafts are the soapstone carvings and the “Kisii stool,” on the seat of which are embedded coloured beads in decorative patterns.

In general Gusii culture is a blend of their own ancestral Bantu-speaking one of traits contributed by Luo speakers, and of lesser influences assimilated from the Maasai and Kipsigis.

Information obtained from Kenyaweb

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~ Home ~ Our History ~ The Project ~ Information Sheet ~ Application Form ~ The Schools ~ Personal experiences ~
~ Photo Gallery ~ All about Kisii ~ The Gusii People ~ Learn Ekegusii ~ About Kenya ~ Links ~ Contact us ~

http://www.cam.ac.uk/societies/kenyap/index.html
last updated 7th March 2002
Orginal html by Sophie Dixon-Box

Comment from oboke
Time: January 26, 2009, 12:50 am

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94882459

Comment from maore
Time: March 4, 2009, 6:13 pm

THE GREATEST BLACK LEADER WHO EVER LIVED:

THE KINGDOM OF KUBA IN 1630

http://kubaatgsu.blogspot.com/2008/12/kuba-people.html

Comment from maore
Time: March 4, 2009, 6:47 pm

Blax History Month

As we commemorate the Black History month, Let us remember those leaders that sacrificed their entire well being for the little freedom that we see today. As much as we might be celebrating, there is need to achieve more out of the little that we have gathered.

We should keep in mind that we are a people of an extremely rich cultural heritage, that is slowly but surely weaning to a point where it may soon become extinct from the face of the earth.

As the generation Dot Com takes effect on our entire existence, more ways should be cultivated to remind us of our past glory. Those that claim that we are not truly embracing new cultures are being misled or misinterpreting our social norms.

We are sons and daughters of Kings and Queens. With generations of warriors like Shaka Zulu; his mighty Assegai, Of the rebellious, skilful and fair fighters in them like the mau mau(Kenya),rising maji maji and Khoi- San hunters and gatherers among others.

Tales of strong men and women who swore to bear the brunt of humiliation and disgrace more than we could ever imagine in this day and age.

Ancient kingdoms south of the Sahara, North of Limpopo like Mali, Songhai, Axum, Asante and Ashanti are a glimpse of what we had. Apart from the exotic sculptures, the masks, staple foods, our colourful traditional regalia and the animal skins wear that has long disappeared or rather rarely be found in some parts, our history should stand out as a reminder of the heritage we have lost that is yet to be rejuvenated for future generations.

From the forgotten, undocumented or otherwise distorted horrors of slavery, (Baga moyo (Tanzania), the gates of no return (Ghana) and Fort Jesus (Kenya) among other sentry like structures symbolic of our struggles; tales of the horrific journey itself would astonish you beyond belief, of the worst crime that man committed to man in those days as part of our existence was cut off.

Apart from our struggles against Apartheid, and the turbulence for independence to the present day daily struggles in the “projects” and the ghettos should be ingrained in the cornerstone of both our hearts and next generations. We should remember, statistics aside, we are and will still be at the bottom of any pyramid globally.(lets believe in ourselves)

Although slavery was abolished, we still encounter the same humiliations as the past generation .Let not a plastic smile fool you. We are still chained. Among ourselves we encounter under the table or under the carpet humiliation that is put under wraps. Your brother, wife or boyfriend (baby daddy) might/WILL never notice your experience(eagle eye-‘Jim crows” )due to a transparent silhouette lurking around the bend . Even the rich amongst us are crying dried up tears that you might not see, as you are intoxicated with authority and pride. From the forgotten, undocumented or otherwise distorted horrors of slavery,(Baga moyo(Tanzania), The gate of no return(Ghana) and Fort Jesus(Kenya)the horrific journey itself would astonish you beyond belief, of the worst crime that man committed to man in those days. Apart from our struggles against Apartheid, and the turbulence for independence to the present day daily struggles in the “projects” and the ghettos should be ingrained in the cornerstone of both our hearts and next generations. We should remember statistics aside we are and will be at the bottom of any pyramid globally.

Although slavery was abolished, we still encounter the same humiliations as the past generation .Let not a plastic smile fool you. We are still chained. Among ourselves we encounter under the table or under the carpet humiliation that is put under wraps. Your brother , wife or boyfriend(baby daddy)might/WILL never notice your experience due to a transparent silhouette lurking around the bend . Even the rich amongst us are crying dried up tears that you might not see, as you are intoxicated with authority and pride.

We were iron smelters, architects and builders of kingmanship. The alphabet and writing was invented somewhere in AFREE CAR. We were fishermen, dhow builders,medicinemen and women, prophets and preachers; Though slavery destroyed all that, another icon has been added to our history. Through him, another has been elevated-We are moving though not through space, but time.

Black culture accepts new ways, but at the same time detests those ways that are both against decency, Godliness and goodness. Call it backwardness, but we can not be easily swayed or fooled into acquiring a new identity that is totally against the very essence or foundation structured by our ancestors. There is meaning is all that!

Values like respecting our elders and leaders, compassion towards the deplored, sharing, diligence, cooperation, forgiveness, love, helping those in need, caring for the elderly, and doing the right thing at the right…..e.t.c and etces are not merely spoken of but instilled in us. Some will claim “that”, that is what is seen as inferior, paving way for exploitation and bondage.”heshima si utumwa” (R-e-s-p-e-c-t aint enslavement)as the old Swahili saying goes.

Oh. Yes! Discipline inclusive and exclusively unabated

Long gone are those days, when we (lads) could all assemble by the fireside after a heavy dinner of our delicacies and delicious staple foods as grandma t narrated a juicy fable that soothed us to bed. These have been passed down from generations to generation. Even in the days of slavery.

In general, there are certain “must never do” the African custom does not Condon. I am not in liberty to write, as IT might be used against others and hence exercise my rights of silence: Lest it be used against I and I in the ……as the story goes.

To crown the black history month, I hope your love shines to others. Discrimination sh’d therefore not be a hindrance. We have come from far and we are headed somewhere. My advice is; work with the system, in the system, around the system and within the system; Help one another, if you can and shun fear. Respect each other and try to obey the law, as much as you can. We are fighting for their rights hence we should respect the little privileges’ we have. Seen?

Peace!

Comment from Inche
Time: May 13, 2009, 6:47 pm

DALLAS- The Black Men’s Film Festival kicks off with a screening of “ Malcolm Echo: The Legacy of Malcolm X” on Friday, May 15, 2009, at 8 p.m., and “Tribute to Malcolm X” on Saturday, May 16, with a discussion about Bro. Malcolm X’s life by Dr. Oba T’Shaka the Professor in the Black Studies Department at San Francisco State University. The festival will be held at the South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 Fitzhugh. General admission tickets are $5 per person.
Dr. T’Shaka served as Chair of the Black Studies Department at San FranciscoStateUniversity for twelve years. Dr. T’Shaka is one of the principal architects of the African Centered Educational Movement, which led to the development of an African-centered discipline that incorporates physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics into the core discipline of Black studies. He also led the move to define ancient African philosophy as the foundation of the Black studies discipline. Dr. Oba T’Shaka is the national vice chairperson of the National Black United Front and author of five books.
The Festival continues on May 22-23 with more films by, for and about Black men.
For more information, call (214) 939-2787.

Comment from Oburu Onderi
Time: August 27, 2010, 4:31 pm

KENYAN COMMUNITY IN ONTARIO MARKS MOTHERS DAY WITH A SCHOLARSHIP FUNDS DRIVE

Posted on ;12th May 2008

Bwoburu, Onderi Justus
Mississauga,Ontario.
Canada
11 May 2008

The Kenyan Community in Ontario marked the annual Mother’s Day with a scholarship fundraising, through the Women’s forum. They dubbed it “The Kenyan Community in Ontario Scholarship Fund Raising Dinner”. The event coincided with Robert “Bob” Nesta Marley’s 27th death Anniversary. The Scholarship Fund, launched in May 2007 is aimed at helping the youth from the community.

Commemoration was marked at the prestigious The Starwood Hotels & Resorts Four Points by Sheraton Hotels Toronto -Airport west. Ms.Sarah Onyango, a conference media expert based in Ottawa, (host Afrika Revisited, CHOU 89.1 FM) emceed the occasion with both her vibrant, brilliance and eloquent artistic skills.

Jayne Rop Weller and Mr. Kibaya Njega both recipients’ of scholarships from various institutions testified about the importance of scholarships deriving from their own experiences. Njenga noted that he never dreamt of receiving an award and he though that such funds were only available for geniuses and other brighter students. He is currently in his last year of his undergraduate studies in University.

Ms. Miranda Cheng, Director, International student exchange Office-University of Toronto was the keynote guest speaker. She spoke about the various support services and programs offered through her center for both International and Canadian graduate students. Through Grace Mwawasi, chair, KCO Women’s Forum, Miranda was later presented with cultural Khanga’s (traditional African fabric worn by women in Eastern Africa) and displayed how to use them. All the women present were also presented each with a rose flower representive of our love to all mothers.

Before the President of KCO, Mr. Ben Ondoro invited Her Excellency the High Commissioner to hail the crowd, Mr. Ondoro said that, “Education is the most important tool you can give a child; those of us who are gathered here tonight have taken that step of faith to provide that tool by contributing to the pot that has been created for our “Youth” by KCO women’s forum to allow us to advance education for our children through this scholarship fund initiative”

Among dignitaries that attended were;

Her Excellency, Prof. Judith Mbula Bahemuka .The Kenya’s High Commissioner to Canada and Ambassador to Cuba. She is lauded for her work in HIV/AIDS in Kenya, World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Forum on Forests UNFF and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) National Commission UNESCO among other achievements.

Dr. Matunda Nyanchama PhD, CISSP, a Senior Information Technology Security specialists in IBM Canada, he is a Professor at The University of Toronto Faculty of Business and Information Technology and Founder, Retired President of The Kenyan Community Abroad (KCA) . Dr.Matunda owns the Yahoo! group Africa-op-ed, which has nearly 12,000 Kenyan participants.

Njoki Nathani Wane a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education. In March, 2008 Prof. Njoki won the Professional Excellence Harry Jerome Award which celebrates excellence in The African-Canadian Community. She is the Director of the Centre for Integrative Anti-Racist Research Studies at the University of Toronto.

Amadou Wane, a Senegalese married to a Kenyan provided the best of Kenyan Old School background music. Mr. Amadeu works in the financial service sector as a Manager with the Royal Bank of Canada. He is married to Dr. Njoki Wane. Sarah Kariuki and The Ngoma Girls (University of Toronto) complemented the entertainment for the night. Ms.Sarah Kariuki is a Gospel singer, song writer based here in Toronto.

Members of the Ramogi Canada Chapter and the Abeingo groups were also adequately represented. A 75 year old granny who had graduated with a Bachelors degree in Child rearing also spoke to the horde, encouraging young people to strive to achieve an education.

The event was partly sponsored by Sway Magazine, East African Travel, and Mary Dennis-Global RESP Funds. You can make your donations to KCOWF Scholarship through www3.KCOCANADA.org.

The Scholarship Awards will be held this fall, around October. First priority for the 2008-2009 Winters Academic Years, will be given to students of Kenyan decent currently in High school who expect to attend college or university in September this year.KCO will mark the 45th Madaraka Day Celebrations on Saturday June 7th 2008; commemorating the 1st July 1963 the day Kenya attained internal self-rule, preceding full independence on 12 December 1963.

**** http://benondoro.blogspot.com/2008/05/kco-womens-forum-scholarsip-photos.html ********
Photos can be viewed above.

The writer is a Student/ aspiring journalist cum writer in Toronto.

Comment from Diana
Time: January 29, 2013, 3:14 pm

Toronto Canada
I am so inspired by this musical and historical telling that i wish to do the same for my Ugandan tribe simply to reserve and show the young ones of this age some of the culture that they may not know through music and drama. I am neither a producer nor am I in drama and theater. My only experience is drama in school. I still that cannot limit me in this dream. The only asset I have is know the culture and put up structer to which songs can be incorporated and I know i can find many of the songs that will fit well to this vision . The Question is how do I start?

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