GULU, Uganda, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- Sounds of strong drum rhythms, whistles, and calabashes hit with spokes are signal that someone is in love or is looking for a marriage partner among the Acholi tribe in northern Uganda.
Among the Acholi people, whose ancestral land straddles the Uganda-South Sudan border, the Larakaraka dance is performed in the villages to signal that some young people are ready for marriage.
Whenever the sounds of drums, whistles and calabashes would go off, youths donned in their traditional wear would gather at the village square to dance and impress their potential lovers.
If one was impressed, then that could flourish into a romance and might eventually lead to marriage.
However, when a two-decade long war by the Lord's Resistance Army rebels broke out, the dance started fading as people were shifted from their homes to Internally Displaced People's camps. The social fabric was disintegrated as the war made people homeless.
In times of war, it was hard to perform the dance mainly for purposes of courtship. Children born during war had little understanding of what the dance meant.
The onset of modern dances coupled with the stigma associated with folk dance has affected the appreciation of the Larakaraka dance.
To revive the glory of the courtship dance, a young graduate in the region has started a theme night in dance clubs. While it was a rare thing to have traditional troupes perform in a dance club in this part of the country, that is not the case any more these days.
As the club manager of Pier 1 in the northern Ugandan district of Gulu, Frank Laker pioneered the theme night, Luo Night. During the Luo Night, the Larakaraka dance together with other traditional dances are performed. They have a six hour slot once every mid-week.
Other dance clubs in the township and down south in the capital Kampala have soon followed suit.
"Whenever we present this dance I see a huge crowd coming in, that is what makes me think our dance is one of the best," Laker said.
The intention is aimed at encouraging young people to love folk dance and also understand their heritage.
Of late the dance is also performed on state functions, weddings and other events.
"Whoever comes to see the dance goes away with a message. Marriage is not about man and woman but it is a broader event that units families. If the new family gets problems it can fall back on the bigger family," Ochora Emmanuel Lagedo, deputy prime minister of the Acholi chiefdom told Xinhua in an interview. Enditem