Given its immense popularity in high schools around the country, a lot has been asked and said about the true origins of the ‘Jabber’ dance. We seek to debunk some of the myths and claims surrounding those famous dance strokes by revealing how and why it all began.
At the end of the 1980s, after the craze of breakdance, foxtrot and the bubblegum music had died down and funky numbers like ‘Technotronic – Pump Up The Jam’ were taking root, a new dance started taking shape. This dance was characterized by group dancing with synchronized arm waving, coordinated and elaborate bobbing up-and-down footwork as well as occasional turning around while one did the moves. It was best performed by lanky fellows and was a marvel to watch those who were good at this dance. A lot of practice hours were spent, especially in Kakooza by a group led by the late Dickson ‘Mutagiri’ Mugerwa that did a lot finessing the dance moves for this new sensation.
Around the same time period (1988-89), there developed a craze for ‘The Jabberwocky’ in St. Mary’s College, Kisubi. The Jabberwocky is the title for a poem, by Lewis Carroll that is found in his 1871 novel titled ‘Through the Looking Glass’ that can also be found in an English language O-Level text book titled ‘Patterns and Skills.’ This poem was popularized by Mr. D.K. Mayanja Kabugujjo, an English language teacher and also then owner of Kabugujjo Disco Sounds and ‘manufacturer’ of the famous ‘bullet-proof kibuggas.’ He often used to recite this poem and students simply loved the funny intonations he used to put into his performances without himself laughing even a bit!
Mr. Mayanja also happened to be the Patron of the Drama Club and once, on a trip to Mt. St. Mary’s College Namagunga, Yusuf Kirabira recited this poem as part of the SMACK performance. This so amused the girls, as they could not fathom a word from this famous poem, that they nicknamed him ‘Jabber.’ Simultaneously, the ‘new’ dance mentioned above had also reached a level of maturity that a number of lads could now ably dance it that it was also christened ‘Jabber.’ There were many a time when groups of SMACK fellows used to ‘Jabber’ at socials and seminars and regale other schools with the synchronicity and awesome moves of the dance to the applaud of the girls and the chagrin of our rivals (don’t they know themselves?).
This ‘Jabber’ dance eventually became quite popular and during our time the name even got adopted by some of the more popular girls in Namagunga who tried to learn the dance moves. It became a regular ‘must dance’ at Kampala clubbing scenes and has remained popular in many schools around the country to this day – all courtesy of its evolution and nurturing in SMACK during those heady days.
Article by Yusuf ‘Kirabs’ Kirabira (Kiwanuka 85-91) and Samson ‘Sox’ Kironde (Mugwanya 85-91)