The modest Baringo central shopping centre of Oinobmoi will come alive with song and dance tomorrow when performers from within the county and the neighbourhood converge for the Tugenin Festival.
The event is named after the Tugen, who are the majority Kalenjin sub tribe in Baringo County. The four sections of the Tugen community, that is, the Arror, Samor, Endorois and Lembus will enter two performing groups each as competitors.
There will also be guest performers from Il Chamus of Baringo South and the Pokot from Tiaty Sub county within Baringo. The Il Chamus are members of the Maa (Masai) speakers while the residents of Tiaty are kin to the residents of West Pokot.
There will also be guest competitors from two neighbouring counties; Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot.
Most of the competing groups have participated regularly in competitions and have done well, with some emerging first at the national stage.
An attendance of between four and five thousand people expected in this year’s edition. Most will come from the different corners of the county, but some will be from beyond the borders of Baringo.
Each group will have ten minutes to showcase their talent and skill, and to impress both the audience and the adjudicators. It is the adjudicators that will decide which team has come tops.
There will be representation from the neighbouring Elgeyo Marakwet county, who will compete with the other guest performer.
Competitors are chosen from participants in national events, but the success of each group is not pegged on past achievement. Judgement is based solely on performance on the stage tomorrow.
All participating groups will get a token of appreciation of sh 10, 000 and a reimbursement of their travelling expenses.
Although all the groups that will perform share similar traditional song and dance, they have been divided into two pools; the Tugen groups and the guest performers.
Members of each pool will compete against each other and produce one winner. This means that there will be a total of two winners. The winner in each pool will gets an additional sh 5, 000.
The Tugen, the Marakwet, the Pokot and the Il Chamus have similar song and dance in which the men jump and soar gracefully to great heights. Both men and women sway to the songs and chants and clapping.
A deliberate attempt has been made to cushion the festival from politics, and to avoid creating an association with any public figures. A guest of honour is usually chosen from among those who have attended of their own volition.
Last year, the chief guest was the Deputy Governor Jacob Chepkwony. Sammy Mwaita, who was the area MP chief guest in the inaugural edition in 2013 and Simon Chelugui who is now a Cabinet Secretary (2014). Baringo Woman Rep Gladwel Cheruiyot has also been a chief guest.
The festival was started in 2013, and was the initiative of Kiberur Tomno. It has taken place every year since then and in all probability will continue for the next long time.
According to Mr Tomno, his motivation was initially to find a way of drawing the young people away from such vices as alcoholism and to rechanneled their energies to something constructive.
The objective of the event has since expanded to include promoting peaceful coexistence among the inhabitants of Kerio Valley region.
The region is inhabited by pastoral communities, all Kalenjin sub tribes, except the Il Chamus. In pre-colonial days, stealing livestock from each was the norm among the communities, a practice that has persisted in certain areas.
Oinobmoi, the venue of the festival is significant as it is the place where the Tugen and Keiyo Kalenjin sub tribes, who had always been fighting over livestock struck a peace accord almost a century ago. That accord has never been broken and has lasted to date.
Another objective of the event is to incorporate the indigenous culture of the people in economic and social development.
“As an economist, I am aware that such nations as Japan, Korea and China have developed to become economic powerhouses without abandoning their culture,” Tomno says.
If things go according to plan, next year’s edition will incorporate West Pokot, Turkana and Samburu in addition to the groups already participating.
- Katimok Traditional Performers.
- Kipkaluni Traditional Performers.
- Culture Promoters
- Kewamoi Traditional Dancers.
- Bogoria Moran Dancers.
- Lake Bogoria Traditional Performers.
- KASIBORA traditional Dancers.
- Kesses Traditional Performers (Instrumental).
- Leketio traditional Dancers (Marakwet)
- Loropil Traditional Dancers (Ilchamus)
- Tiaty Utamaduni Dancers (Pokot)
- Kalacha Traditional Dancers (West Pokot)