Day founding president grabbed Obokano from Kisii dancer
The late President Jomo Kenyatta could not hide his excitement when Abagusii traditional dancers decorated his Gatundu home with captivating rhythm by Andrew Mochache’s obokano, a traditional lyre, prompting him to grab it and disappear into the house.
Mochache, a retired music teacher and a resident of Kisii town, was born on October 20, 1945 at Mwamonda village, Kisii Central Ward, Kisii County.
The father of seven recalls how the delegation from Gusii arrived in Gatundu on that chilly morning in 1969 and after a welcoming speech, traditional dancers opened the floor with traditional folk songs accompanied with obokano.
That day, he interacted with the founding father of the nation who watched him closely as he vigorously played obokano.
Fascinated by Mochache’s prowess at playing the traditional instrument, Kenyatta rose up and teased the young man that it was his turn to play the traditional instrument from Gusii.
Mochache demonstrates how the late President grabbed his obokano from him and disappeared into his mansion while glancing backwards, an indication that he wanted him to follow him into the house.
“Did you know inside the spacious room was Uhuru Kenyatta whom from time to time wanted to play obokano like his father while dressed in shorts and a vest?” Mochache reveals.
“As Jomo roughly played the instrument, I led the solo singing trying to fit the rhythm as he kept on playing and playing,” Mochache adds as he recalls how the President and his young son spent considerable time on the obokano, as if it were a practice session.
The episode was cut short by the First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta, who whispered something to the young Uhuru and suddenly, the duo followed each other to another room.
By this time, leaders who led the delegation were all in the room singing a reunion and love song “Bwabokire obwanchani boria bwakare” (reviving the first love), which was repeatedly sang until the President at some point joined in the singing to the extent one would have thought he knew Ekegusii.
What worries this retiree is how his music teacher (name withheld) ate all the money which was given to all groups and individuals despite his wonderful performance that day.
“Infact, dad keeps on repeating that episode from time to time like a national anthem,” echoes Eric Nyamote, his last born.
In the delegation to Gatundu on that day were several leaders from the Gusii community led by the late Labour minister and MP for Nyaribari James Nyamweya.
“There were more than four traditional dance groups comprising 40 members each, who entertained the Head of State in Kiambu; all dressed in traditional attire “Chingobo” (live goat skin clothes), while soloists like myself carried a whisk high; wearing a big leopard skin hut; a sign of a legend and coincidentally, Kenyatta was in the same style,” Mochache remembers.
The delegation included the then Kisii MPs Zachary Onyonka (Bogetutu), Mark Bosire (Wanjare-Mugirango South), Mamboleo Onsando (Bassi-Majoge), George Morara (North Mugirango) and civil servants led by then Provincial Commissioner for Central region, Simeon Nyachae and Permanent Secretary at independence Dr Samwel Ogembo, women and youth groups and traditional dancers.
In the memorandum were requests for extra ministerial posts, civil service, parastatals and land reclaiming issues especially “Abagusii farm”at Kitale which was grabbed and renamed “Moige farm.” - KNA