The Star (Nairobi)

15 November 2012

Kenya: Thousands Flock to Lamu Annual Fete

Thousands of revellers have began flocking to the Lamu island for the historic annual cultural festival expected to attract over 30000 people both locals and foreign tourist.

Preparations for the festival which begins today is complete and the Lamu town is a beehive of activities. Last year, the town was hit by a wave of kidnapping of tourists and foreigners by the al Shabaab militia.

Hotels are fully booked as revellers descend on the town to immerse themselves in the cultural jamboree. This year's festival is expected to bring back the tourists' boom in the island known better known as a paradise because of its cool climate and unspoiled environment.

The kidnapping had led to several countries imposing a travel ban to its citizens, but majority of them are said to have lifted them.

Lamu Cultural Promotion group, the festival's event orgnanisers and the provincial administration confirmed that everything had been put in place.

Lamu county commissioner Steve Ikua said security measures were in place and did not expect any security mishaps. Abdulswamad Basheikh told the Star on the phone that the security is expected to be tight because the Kenya Defence Forces captured Kismayu.

Kismayu, a seaport city of Somalia was known as the operational base for al Shabaab. He said the festivals theme would be "Peace for all and all for Peace."

The festival will be used to help reconcile the Orma and Pokomo communities who were affected by tribal clashes three months ago.

Basheikh said the festival will be used to revive the tourism industry. He said an international artist from Denmark Simona Abdalla would be performing on Saturday alongside other prominent artists from Mombasa and Nairobi.

"We also expect high profile dignitaries from Germany who have confirmed they will be sending a representative," he said.

There will be lots of competitions including dhow race, donkey race and swimming competitions. "The festival will begin on Thursday with Kaswida (Prayers).

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