Traditional dance is a cultural mainstay in Africa, and an important component of the social fabric of over 40 ethnic groups across Uganda.
Despite this importance, efforts to preserve and develop traditional African dance as part of this fabric are waning, with the obsession of foreign dances in music videos and competitions.
In spite of this hiccup, some people are determined to keep the African heritage alive. One such endevour was witnessed last Saturday and Sunday at the National Theatre during the second edition of the Batalo East festival which ran under the theme, Tradition meets Urban. The two-day festival started off with freestyle dancing from various groups.
With an aim of building a bridge between traditional and urban dance, Batalo East initiative encourages young people and dancers to value and incorporate traditional African art forms into their lives and artistry.
The festival relied on experienced judges to carry out the selection and elimination of participants.
The judges that comprised Abramz Tekya, Babson, Crusha Bornz, Abdul Abdanger, Ricky Fierce, Amin Namakula, Hakim Da Hak and Issa Alvin Adero selected winners in different categories which saw Fahad Kiryowa win Top Rock, Faizal Ddamba win Afro House, Walter Ruva win Style Yake, Jeff Ssemaganda took Krumping crown in a competition that saw the Congo crew emerge winners in Crew battles.
Philip Buyi Roy and Moses Mukalazi’s performances deserve special mention for the mastery and professionalism that they exhibited. Their prowess earned them first place in the Hip Hop category.
Batalo East is a registered non-profit organisation that was started in 2013 by Abdul Kinyenya. It is composed of members of Tabu Flo Dance Company, Breakdance Project Uganda and other individuals who are committed to the idea of bringing traditional and urban dances together in order to preserve and develop African cultural heritage.