Way back in the ‘90s when I was living in Mbarara, I became a serious fan of Pesa Pesa and Kwasa Kwasa! If you don’t know what I am talking about, then just visit Google and you will find the names of Kanda Bongo Man and Diblo Dibala! In fact, during those years, we just thought that such music was enjoyed by people in the capital city alone. But when I went to Mbarara Town on a certain weekend, I quickly realised that no one could beat the folks here when it came to dancing strokes to such tunes. It was actually in the outskirts of Mbarara in a small village.
It was at this party where I had been invited – the DJ was such a popular local guy who loved kwasa kwasa songs. He had borrowed a battery from a drunken tractor driver to whom he rewarded with some tots of liquor. The roof was made of banana fibre, the ground wet from dew. Two loudspeakers were sufficient for the cracking machine to spread the music in the night. The vigor had begun!
Talk about insanity! Couples wriggled, jumped and drank like crazy. When the DJ played Michael Bolton or Jackie Jackson, the dancers cursed. When slows were spinned, a sit down strike would take effect immediately. But when it came to Kanda or Pepe or Diblo, the crowd simply went wild.
However, to the people in this particular village, Pesa Pesa is one thing whereas dancing is entirely a different thing. If you asked me, I’d call it a very well organised type of karate mixed with taekwondo and kung Fu.
For example, there was this couple. A boy and a girl. The boy’s trouser waist was just below his diaphragm. His canvas shoes were as big as a miner’s boots. His T-shirt had a picture of Maradona himself. His hair was like a butcher’s cap.
The lady was in torn jeans. Her blouse was twice her size. A pin hanging loose from her nostril. These two were the stars of the night. Room had to be created because not only were they dancing but they also kicked high like Bruce Lee. When the rest joined in, they tried to imitate and this caused havoc.
I remember three kicks from nowhere found their way to my belly. I tried to escape but there was no space. Elbows and fists kept whizzing dangerously passed me as Kanda’s voice boomed out of the loudspeakers.
I was becoming dizzy and spent. The only way out was to crawl on my belly. Phew! Little wonder that the next morning, my whole body was aching…