The secret life of the Night Dancers

AKA Night Runners in Kenya.

I am Acholi but I was born and raised in Kampala right in the centre then later moved to the near suburbs of Mengo and Rubaga which were relatively affluent which meant I did’t really experience the “night dancer” phenomenon first hand.

But I knew about it. Relatives from the village would visit us and tell tales about these mysterious people of the night who go around terrifying people in their sleep – my mind would go wild in mythic horror.

I largely forgot about it until recently when I came across a BBC Africa Eye documentary Meet the Night Runners on Youtube.

The film follows a couple and few other night dancers as they shade light on this strange mainly rural and apparently a Luo practice.

The couple in the video claim to be cursed. Some of the others do it purely for the sport and want to turn it into a recognised, some claim to be addicted, some have been doing it for decades. Very quickly the mystery behind it palliates. Now I can think objectively and completely understand what is really going on. These are normal people, not witches like I used to think.

The documentary is an eye opener but it still leaves me with many questions; what really compels them to do it? Are they really possessed by a demonic spirit? No one knows. The doc doesn’t try to understand details behind each case.

I wonder how long we have till these traditions are phased out. One of the more eccentric self proclaimed president of the night dancers in the video seems to be already phasing out old ways and asking his fellow dancers to abide by the law and calling for the government to recognise it as a sport.

So there you go, watch the video if you haven’t already and make up your mind. We will do a proper scientific investigation next time.