Culture and Society
An 85-year-old man is leading effort to revive ‘ajosi’, the once revered Iteso cultural dance which is fast fading.
An 85-year-old man is leading efforts to revive ‘ajosi’ the once revered Iteso cultural dance which is fast fading.
Solomon Enyimu, a resident of Atapar parish, Kapir Sub-county in Ngora district has been forced to lead the efforts of reviving the cultural dance after realizing that the dance is fast disappearing.
Ajosi used to grace cultural and official government functions in Teso. It’s performed by a group of dancers clad in traditional regalia like goat skin, horns while the instruments include xylophone, thumb piano, harp, horn flute and a giant drum.
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But now the disappearance of this once important aspect of Iteso culture is troubling those who grew up before the advent of today’s music that heavily relies on the computer.
Among those who are not pleased with ‘ajosi’ being replaced by modern day computer aided music is Solomon Enyimu.
Born in 1926, Enyimu, a father of ten spent the last 50 years performing ajosi in different areas of Teso.
He has formed a group which he trains from his home in Atapar village. He says he was forced to form the group after realizing that the traditional dance is becoming extinct in Teso.
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Enyimu attributes his good physical and mental health to the time he spends performing ajosi. He claims ajosi gives one the ability to think critically while coming up with the lyrics. He also explains that the dance has helped him to be healthy since 1939 when he joined a band that was headed by his late father, Kezron Achila.
According to Enyimu, the dance started fading during the insurgency that rocked Teso in the 80’s and 90’s which made most people to lose the traditional regalia for performing.
He also blames current day sub-county chiefs of lacking interest in preserving cultural norms and practices. He says in the past the chiefs used to promote the dance by sponsoring their performances and inviting them for every function held at the sub county and county.
But David Okurut, who presents a traditional music show on Delta FM radio in Soroti says ajosi is no longer popular because the old men who used to play it did not impart the skills of performing it to the youths.
Okurut says the youths cannot play the instruments for ajosi and that it’s also difficult to get regalia like feathers of ostriches and skins from wild animals that the dancers dress in during performances.
He adds that most of the youth shun ajosi because they view it as something which does not suit today’s modern generation.
According to Okurut only four groups of ajosi exist in Teso today.
ajosi tradional dance