Uganda: Meet two students from the Mackay Troupe!

Kenedy Bulega and Ignatius Tumusiime are both in Senior 6 (the final year of high school) at Mackay Memorial College and are active members of the Mackay Troupe. As they will soon be graduating from school, Teach A Man To Fish took the opportunity to interview them about their experiences in the troupe.


Image: Kenedy (left) and Igantius (right).

Both Kenedy and Ignatius joined the Mackay Troupe when they were fourteen, as they wanted to learn different dances and to develop their existing talents. As two of the most experienced members of the troupe, they both have a lot of responsibility when it comes to the training sessions and performances. Kenedy is a lead dancer and a 'mobiliser', which means that he's responsible for making sure that the other members attend the rehearsals. This, according to them, is the only challenge of being in the troupe, as they don't like students being late for rehearsals. Ignatius is the 'entertainment prefect' and 'assistant dance director', so when Janie (the dance trainer at the school) is not around, Ignatius teaches the dances and songs to the rest of the group. He plays the drums, the adungu (traditional Uganda instrument) and also teaches other students how to play them in his free time.


The Mackay Troupe perform a range of traditional dances, which all originated from different parts of Uganda and Rwanda. They try to replicate the different dances and costume as accurately as possible. Both students know the histories of the dances in detail and enthusiastically explained their favourite ones. Ignatius's favourite dance is the Kinyarwanda dance, which was performed by Kinyarwanda people (in Rwanda) many years ago in appreciation of their leader. For this particular dance, the boys wear long, blonde-haired wigs (see images below). The men and women who traditionally participated in this dance wanted to prove the flexibility of their bodies, which they demonstrated by flicking their long hair/wigs around to show the flexibility of their necks. Kenedy's favourite dance is the Kinganda dance which was performed when the king visited a community that he ruled. For this dance, Kenedy says that:


People from different areas of work would come together to make themselves happy through dancing. Traditionally the dancers would also ferment matoke (traditional Ugandan food) and make it into local beer” (- although this part is not replicated at the school!).



(Image: Performance of Kinyarwanda dance).


Both Igansius and Kenedy are studying economics, history and geography but they have quite different career aspirations for when they leave Mackay Memorial College. Igansius wants to continue his passion for music, as:

music is the thing that I grew up in. It's my talent and career.”

He wants to form his own dance troupe and wants to help other students like he was helped. Kenedy on the other hand wants to study Surveying at university and hopes to pursue this subject as a career. However, he will never stop dancing, as:

music will always be part of me, so I can't abandon music – it will always be my leisure.”


(Image: Mackay Troupe performing for visitors)


Ideally, they agreed that they would like Mackay Troupe to perform at events, such as weddings, graduation parties and competitions, twice a week, as well as regular rehearsals. Although the performances and rehearsals are very time-consuming, they still love participating in the troupe. Last weekend they performed at a wedding in Jinja, a town outside Kampala, and performed for the entire day and night! When asked about whether the work of Teach a Man to Fish has changed things for the troupe, they both stated that:

much has changed due to the new instruments and costumes that Teach a Man to Fish has helped us buy. I [Ignasius] like having the instruments at the school, as I can play them all the time and teach others how to play them too.”

Throughout the interview, their passion for music was evident and demonstrated by their knowledge of the dances, their enthusiasm and also by breaking into song on quite a few occasions! Ignatius and Kenedy are also both extremely dedicated to the Mackay Troupe and we look forward to hearing about what they will achieve in the future within the troupe as well as after school.


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