Cockfights that unite groups and boost tourism
FUENTE: THE STANDARD
21 / AGOSTO / 2009
By Baraka Karama
Mr Jonathan Majoni, 38, sprinkles maize on the ground for his cock to feed on.
The white cock crows stridently and swiftly pecks the grains as Majoni continues to buzz songs of praise.
“Kula Mamba. Kula ushibe. Leo lazima ushinde,” (Eat Mamba. Eat well. Today you must win) he whispers.
Majoni is preparing the cock for a major battle with another one in same village of Butsotso South, Lurambi District.
The observance here is a common practice and Majoni is determined to earn admiration through the clash.
Chanting Luhya war songs, Majoni then leaves his home with his cock and heads to the nearby market centre for a showdown.
The stage is already set and Jonathan’s arrival ignites bliss and excitement among the local fans that have gathered to cheer the fighting cocks.
His cock, ‘Mamba’, is facing Mr Clement Angatia’s ‘Simba’.
Both are optimistic their cocks will win the brawl.
|Its a battle for kingship as these cockerels snap, snip and snipe at each other.|
And soon, the ‘referee’ Mzee Hesbon Ingutia blows the whistle to signal the start of the fight.
Majoni and Angatia jump up to cheer their cocks.
“Kamata shingo yake, ndiyo, hivyo Mamba” (hold its neck, yes, like that Mamba!” Majoni shouts.
Angatia sings and prods his cock to “finish the enemy”.
The cocks unfold their wings wide as they battle each other in a fight that lasts for more than twenty minutes.
Song and dance
Finally, Majoni’s cock emerges the winner and fans join him in song and dance.
He says, “I knew my cock would win this fight. I had prepared it well and I was sure of victory.”
Majoni says that the victory has now earned him recognition and respect among his peers.
“This win is very important because people will now respect me in the entire village because I have a warrior,” he adds.
Chief Andrew Nikoli says the event is organised regularly to promote unity in the community.
Nikoli says: “When people come and watch the fight, they are able to mingle and through this one can get to know how others are fairing on”.
“We try as much as possible to encourage our people to spend most of their time watching the event rather than indulge in bad behaviour when idle,” he explains.
He adds that the event helps youths and elderly men not to engage in vices such as drinking illicit brews and smoking bhang.
“They spend most of their time watching the fights. So they don’t indulge in drinking chang’aa,” he adds.
|Fans cheer and jeer two cocks during a fight in Butsotso, Lurambi District.|
The chief says the event also has its cultural importance and is regarded with high esteem in the Luhya community.
“There is no Luhya man or woman who doesn’t know the importance of owning a cock. If you don’t have any in your home then you will not be respected,” he notes.He adds that the owners identify them by establishing the one that crows.
“When the cocks are from the same neighbourhood, their combs are coated with soot so that they don’t recognise one other. The moment they see each other they begin to fight thinking that the other is an enemy that wants to occupy its territory, ” Nikoli says.
The chief says most of the cocks undergo rigorous training before the fight.
“If you don’t train your cock to fight well then you will be the loser and become the village laughing stock.”
The game has its peak during the December holidays.
“It is like a football tournament. There is a preliminary fight and thereafter district level heats,” Nikoli adds.
The winning cock is thereafter crowned as the ‘king’ of the district.
He says the cocks are slaughtered or sold to the locals at higher prices.
“If you buy the victorious cock you pay more money because of its status.”
The ceremony is one of several major tourist attraction events in Western Province.
The western tourism circuit has classified cock fighting alongside the bull fighting of Kakamega as must-see events.
“We have received many tourists who come here to witness this event. They find it funny and really enjoy it,” the chief says.
He explains the main difference between cock fighting and bull fighting is in preparation.
“When preparing for a bull fight you can even use bhang’ to make it more violent but for a cock you just have to feed it well,” he explains.