Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gapath Dancers

Yesterday, we experienced something that was truly experiencing Kenya. We were honored to attend a meeting of the Gapath Performers and Educators. Gapath, is a mixture of a Meru word and an English word. When translated it means small path. In order to live a healthy life and help others, they must follow a small path.
 The Gapath Performers and Educators are a group that uses the traditional mother tongue of the area, traditional songs and dance to teach people about the culture of the Kimeru and to teach people about things like the dangers of alcohol, AIDS, malaria and typhoid.

 Earlier in the week, Dr. KK Mugambi asked the three students, Darla, Morgan and Jacie, who are working at Village Hopecore, to prepare job descriptions for the leaders of the group who are elected. The problem was the people of the group elected people because they liked them, not because they were qualified.
 The group wrote up job descriptions for the people to show them the importance of competency and urge them to think of these requirments when electing their leaders.
 The Gapath dancers agreed with the job descriptions for most of the leaders including the chairwoman who was elected unanimously, but secretary was a bit harder.
 In order to be a successful group, one person must be able to read and write in English and KiSwahili. The issue with language is that different regions have different mothertoungues. This becomes an issue when traveling out of your district or talking to a person from a different region. Unfortunately, no one in the group was able to read and write both languages. The position was post-poned until new members joined.
 Before and after the meeting though, they danced and sang for us. Few things are as beautiful as the Kimeru people singing. When they sing together, they are strong and confident and their dancing is contagious. Despite the fact that they don't have traditional dress yet, you know you are witnessing a part of history when you watch them dance. After all, the chairwoman is over 70 years old. (She could be older, the exact age is escaping me.)

1 comment:

  1. Looking at your photos and reading your stories, you guys are truly experiencing the beauty of Chogoria! I am so happy for all of you. I see a lot of familiar kenyan faces which makes me smile. From the pre-school teacher, Dr. KK, to a little girl named Esther. :) So many friends. Continue to capture your stories and the wonderful spirit of Chogoria. :)