19 November 2012

Kenya: 30,000 Flock to Lamu As Cultural Festival Closes

MORE than 30,000 local and international tourists attended this year's Lamu Cultural Festival which ended yesterday.

The four-day event organised by the Lamu Cultural Promotion Group, Kenya Tourism Board and National Museums of Kenya showcased the Swahili culture.

There was a display of the Swahili bridal make up, heena paintings and photographic exhibitions with curators at the Lamu Fort giving lectures on the ancient town. Groups competed in dhow racing, beach football and swimming.

The festival attracted neighbouring communities including the Pokomo and Orma. The event was funded by the French government, Germany, Poland, Spain, European Union among others. However, the US government pulled out its sponsorship.

The trademark donkey race was held in the town's main street along the ocean. The donkey is the town's main means of transport. Local and international musicians entertained crowds at Mkunguni ground.

The festival's chairman Ghalib Alawy termed it a success. Speaking during the closing of the event, he said the island, which is listed as a Unesco world heritage site, has regained its place in the world tourism map.

"Lamu is back," said Alawy. He called on European countries to stand down travel advisories saying Lamu is a safe holiday destination.

KTB awarded the festival a Sh500,000 cheque. Envoys from the EU which supported the event were also present including Spain ambassador Javier Herrera who was the chief guest.

Also present were Poland and France deputy ambassadors Aleksander Kropiwnicki and Stephanie Seydoux among others. Herrera said EU is working with African countries to address historical injustices and promote culture for development.

"We shall always support you," he said. NMK assistant director Athman Hussein called on Kenyan communities to embrace and uphold their cultures. "Our rich cultures are our great history," he said.

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