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Day The Late President Jomo Kenyatta Snatched Obokano From Abagusii Dancers

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 October 20, 1945, at Mwamonda village, Kisii Central Ward, Kisii County.

The father of seven says how they arrived in Gatundu that morning and after a welcoming speech, dancers opened the floor with traditional folk songs accompanied with obokano.

That day, he interacted with the founding father of the nation who sat closely opposite him while vigorously playing obokano like David of the Bible.

Having been convinced and fascinated by the young man and schoolboy, Kenyatta interestingly watched him play; he 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 obokano from the schoolboy and disappeared into his mansion while seeking behind; a demonstration that the Itierio Secondary obokano star player, would follow suit.

“Did you know inside the spacious room was Uhuru Kenyatta who from time to time wanted to play obokano like his father while dressed in shorts and a vest?” he rhetorically asked.

“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 and wonders how the President and his young son took much of the time inside the house busy with his 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 sung until the President to some point sang with us, you could think 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.

“In fact dad keeps on repeating that episode from time to time like a national anthem,” echoes Eric Nyamote, his last born.

Mochache went to Gatundu, Kenyatta’s residence in Kiambu with huge numbers of Abagusii who were led by the late Labour Minister and Member of Parliament (MP) for Nyaribari James Nyamweya, among other leaders from Gusii land.

“There were more than four traditional folk song group dancers comprising forty each who qualified to entertain Head of State in Kiambu; all dressed in traditional attire “Chingobo” (live goatskin 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 in 1969 included all Kisii Members of Parliament Zachary Onyonka -Bogetutu, Mark Bosire-Wanjare-Mugirango South, Mamboleo Onsando-Bassi-Majoge, George Morara-North Mugirango among civil servants 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.”

Mochache represented Itierio Mixed Secondary School which was the only mixed secondary boarding school from Nyanza region that had excelled in music.

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