Pokot, Turkana youth resort to music, dance to spread peace in the troubled region

Tired of retrogressive practices of cattle rustling and banditry activities, talented youths from warring communities Pokot, Karamojong and Turkana along the Kenya-Uganda border have resorted to use culture and folk media to peacefully coexist to end the retrogressive practices and improve socio-economic status.

One Musical dance Group by the name Yoto Kalya(Mother of Peace) comprises 12 members who have become peace ambassadors at the border lines.

Clad in traditional regalia from the three communities, the group has been pulling masses while preaching peace, unity and reconciliation in the region.

The group that started in 2022 comprises of talented youthful boys girls with nice voices and unique dancing styles.

Girls wear special skirts known as Atero with a tail that is decent and holds them tight originally from Karamoja region, traditional ornaments as they dance while boys put on khaki combat shirts, traditional berets with feathers hanging and shukas on their waits that are put on during peace ceremonies.

The musical group performs in events and social gatherings in Nakwamekwi in Turkana, Moroto in Uganda and Alale in Kenya.

The group sings songs from the three communities in a routine dance style.

Safania Rotich the Chairman of the group who goes by the name Apakochum(A small hill of monkeys) says they are mentoring and giving knowledge on how to engage communities, as well as nurturing hidden talents.

He said that folk media is an effective means of communication and peace building.

Dennis Adoke, a group member from Karamoja region cited their challenges as drought and lack of water when they move around.

He added that the group moves from one community to another preaching peace.

The Pokot, Karamojong Turkana and communities have for decades been engaged in wrangles that have resulted in lack of infrastructural development, loss of lives, property and animosity.

However, the youth have turned to using the new methodology by embracing cultural exchange programs through traditional dances and exhibition of artifacts to promote peace.

The festivals are regular at trading centers on the county borders and hotpot areas.

It is also during such events that the ordinary folk engage leaders and religious leaders on building unity.

During school events, neighboring communities exchange livestock and farm products.

The dancers challenged the government to change strategies used in tackling insecurity in troubled areas like Turkwel, Kapedo, Tiaty, Chesegon and other pastoral areas and instead use culture to promote peace.

They proposed that youths and civil societies are well placed to solve security issues using cultural traditions for conflict resolutions.

They expressed fears of frequent killings in the region while the national government is doing little to avert the conflicts.

Pokot Musician and Master of ceremony Simon Lochaun populary known as “Tenomoye” (A person with a big stomach) said that residents living along the West Pokot Turkana and Karamoja borders turned to folk media to co-exist and mutually initiate income generating projects in cattle-rustling- and banditry- prone regions.

Cultural ambassador William Lopetakou noted that the only option they now have is to employ cultural intervention using rituals to maintain peace in the region.

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