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To Ululate or Not to Ululate for President Obama? Kenyans Are Asking That Question

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya, Arts & Culture, Politics
Kenyan TV host and anchor Julie Gichuru. Creative Commons photo by the World Trade Organisation. [1]

Kenyan TV host and anchor Julie Gichuru. Creative Commons photo by the World Trade Organisation.

Kenyan TV host and anchor Julie Gichuru [2] welcomed [3] US President Barack Obama at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit [4]in a unique style: [5] She ululated [6] to welcome him during his official visit to Kenya.

Ululation [6] is commonly used in Africa as a cheer, mourn or attention-seeking sound by women. The YouTube video below posted by Citizen TV shows Gichuru ululating:

Her ululation has ignited online debate about whether the occasion was right for it. Some are strongly in support of her, while others think otherwise.

After a story of her ululation was posted [7] on Kenya Today website, readers took to their keyboards to express their views.

Eve liked [8] the gesture:

she is an African woman.
I liked it too.

An anonymous reader asked [9]:

Whats wrong with ululating? I thnk it was a very unique way of welcoming the heads..its different from the usual official ways….sometimes its good to appreciate we are Africans and this is part of us! Stop hating!

James Mathu noted [10]:

I liked it.It’s African and I dont think President Obama took offense to it.I bet he wanted to know about it’s origin and meaning.

Wakisome thought [11]what she did was part of African culture:

it depends on which angle you look at it. infact the African way of appreciating our kings, heroes and heroins to the podium is through ululation. it is very African and I remember her saying to do it African way. I mean what’s wrong with that? I think she right.

Mimi said that [12] those who are complaining have been brainwashed by Western imperialism:

These complainants Guchurus welcome is a direct evidence of how western cultural imperialism has brainwashed black Africans to turn against their modes of speech and communication. Keep it up Gichuru.

The ululating made Onyango proud [13]of his Kenyan and African heritage:

I liked the way Julie did it, it is unfortunate that some of us are unable to appreciate themselves to the extent that they extend their self-hatred to other people, Julie is Julie and let her be Julie and she cannot be anyone else but herself. She made me proud to be a Kenyan and an African and I appreciate our diversity.

While Mimi went further by suggesting that [14]the practice should me made official:

Julie give us more and more of this! Actually, why not make it the official Kenyan welcome style!

Referring to those who are criticizing Gichuru, Justus Atuti warned [15]:

I thought Gichuru did so well and her did was so African, a reflection of who we are as a people. With this level of hatred, Kenya is as good as dead. 2017 is a dangerous year for us all.

However, one reader claimed that [16] ululating on a microphone is a health hazard:

Why must we hide behind culture and tribalism when avoiding correction?Then why do we go to school? Journalists have their ways of doing things and 2 wrap it all,it is health hazard to spat on mike in the name of ululation,just for your good ears to listen. African ululate a lot but this time round,my sister Julie,it was a little bit bad so next time try and change on it. Let’s avoid ths political mood,it has cost Auma to reign where it’s known well as your domain and actually,she won. Wish u better next time my sister Julie.

Utamaduni thought [17] it was unprofessional:

Its all got to with journalists putting aside professionalism to pander to the whims of politicians and its rampant in this country.