Abasuba have a rich music and dance tradition named after the various instruments such as kondo, (head gear), owalo (sisal skirt), orutu (fiddle), firimbi (whistle) and othothorio (whistling). Some of the Abasuba sporting activities include: tug of war for both genders, football, athletics, wrestling, board (bao) game and boat racing. Music, dance and the sporting activities were pursued by the community for education, entertainment and communal sharing.

Music and Dance

Suba drummer beats out a Rhythm on a traditional skin drum (Engoma) made of a Lizard Skin, while the child plays Ibu (calabash) filled with seeds or small stones to mix/blend the music. A combination conveys much more meaning with regard to the sort of messages transmitted to meet the requirements of each occasion. The child is acquiring musical knowledge from the older man. However, the younger generation appear unconcerned to acquiring these skills, while the aged who can make and use the instruments are also passing away without transmitting their valuable skills.

Source: The Beautiful people of Kenya by Mohamed Amin, Duncan Willets & Brian Tetley

Photo from the book ‘The Beautiful people of Kenya’

Musical Instruments

The Suba used musical instruments to communicate specific messages as well as to transfer knowledge and skills, and to motivate action through praise singing. They used traditional music in most of their events and ceremonies, both happy and sad occasions like marriage ceremonies and funeral rights. Musical instruments like Nyatiti in such occasions. Nyatiti (Ewukano) rhythms stimulate the audience to participate fully in different social occasions by dancing and singing. They were also used in initiation rites, soothsaying, hunting, and fishing and during war for entertainment. Unfortunately, the skills to construct and play the traditional musical instruments are slowly dying out.

Source: www.UNESCO.org and Elimu Asilia workshop April 2015 at Mbita

Source: www.UNESCO.org and Elimu Asilia workshop in April 2015 at Mbita 

Traditional Suba dance

Ibu (Abu in Luo) is a musical instrument that is not an original Abasuba musical instrument but due to assimilation with the Luo, they have acquired the skills to blow Ibu and use it during ceremonies and events as one of their own.

The dancer is wearing traditional Abasuba costumes of sisal skirt, a fly whisk, headgear and armlet as he dances to the tune of ibu.

Tug of war

This is one of the recreation activities undertaken by the Abasuba community. It is an activity which is undertaken by both men and women in the community.

Source: Validation meeting with the elders May 2016

Wrestling significance among the Suba

Wrestling is another sporting activity within the community. Wrestling can take place when young energetic men gather to show their talents during occasions such as when a newly wedded lady is brought home, when installing a community leader such as chief or during peace making ceremonies between two warring communities.

Source: Validation meeting with the elders May 2016

Boat Racing

Boat racing (Canoe regatta) is an activity that can take place any time in the year depending on what the community wants to do. It can take place during events such as installation of a new boat, good harvest or inaugurating a leader a leader. It can take place in different celebrations in the year and the winner is crowned “king of the lake”. There are different types of rowers such as the nine, eleven or thirteen seater. Men can compete on their own likewise to women.

Source: Validation meeting with the elders May 2016