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Kenyans head over heels after trip to China

By XIE SONGXIN and OTIATO OPALI in Nairobi, Kenya | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-11-28 08:36

Acrobats train under the guidance of Mathias Kavita in Nairobi. During their performances, they incorporate African routines with Chinese skills. WU XIAOHUI/CHINA DAILY

Moves copied

When the group returned to Kenya in 1985, local acrobats started copying moves the students learned in China, such as jumping through hoops and performing handstands on stacked furniture, along with skating and lion dancing.

The group formed a national acrobatic troupe, which toured Kenya to perform at government functions and other events presided over by the African nation's then-president Daniel arap Moi. However, in 1989, Kavita left to pursue a career with another troupe in Mombasa, helping him transition from performer to trainer.

Due to a lack of facilities, his dream of teaching acrobatics was not fulfilled immediately. The shortage of public schools teaching acrobatics in Kenya was also a problem.

Kavita hoped that on returning home, the Kenyan government would build a school like the one in Guangzhou, but construction of such a school has not been started.

"I want to return to the Guangzhou Acrobatic Arts Troupe to see the progress it has made, meet the teachers who trained us, and acquire more knowledge to help me manage acrobatics in Kenya. I would love to advance my training skills and help take Kenya to the next level," said Kavita, who has not been back to Guangzhou since 1985.

China Daily contacted the Guangzhou Acrobatic Arts Troupe to talk to Kavita's coaches, but only one of them from his time with the troupe is still alive, and due to memory loss, he was unable to give a coherent interview.

By developing performances that combine Chinese and African acrobatics, Kavita's shows have attracted attention on the world stage, and his performers have been invited to appear in Europe and across Africa.

On weekdays, his students start arriving at the Sarakasi Dome arena as early as 7 am. When Kavita joins them, they rehearse their moves, which include balancing on unicycles while juggling balls, forming intricate human pyramids, and practicing head-spinning summersaults and flips.

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