Lamu Cultural Festival Report 2016

For the past 16 years Lamu has been in the forefront cultivating their lifestyle, beliefs and traditions that are the heart and soul of the community. These events are conducted and organized annually by the Lamu cultural promotion group in conjunction with the Lamu county government. With the support from embassies, Kenyan authority, and local stakeholders they managed to successfully showcase Swahili culture and traditions through this landmark event.  

culture-8This year the event took off from 10th to 13th of November. Full of live the archipelago attracted people from all over the world, locals and tourist flocked the island making it lively.

The purpose of this festival is to promote the Swahili heritage and preserve the local culture of the islands. The festival is very popular and the agenda reflects the richness of Swahili culture.

culture-6During the festivities, the magic of the past turns alive. Traditional displays like dhow building, henna painting, fish trap making, palm weaving and bao games were shown.

Traditional dancers from different communities living in lamu like, Chama dance, goma la siu, bati, pokomo dance and others from neighboring counties cultivated the event.

culture-2The festival also featured the renowned Gujurati Dancers from India and other local musicians who entertained people from their charming music and dances.

Competitions are one of the key activities in the event mainly to heighten the locals’ skills and ability in promoting their heritage.

culture-5Donkey race is one of the unique competitions that are held to encourage youth participation in the festivals. This famous domesticated animal in the island provides a fraction of land-based mode of transport to the residents. The exceptionally talented boys ride the donkeys for the entire expected length to be covered while the spectators of their favorite rider cheer for them. This year Omar Kombo went home with Ksh.50, 000 where he emerged to be in position one, Idris Husein the second winner had for himself Ksh. 40,000 and number three Iftikhar Said was awarded Ksh. 30, 000.

culture-6Dhow race is one of the cultural heritages that has made Lamu Famous since decades, this activity is mainly to showcase the fastest dhow in the island, the most experienced captain, the best sailor and finally the one who made it. With all these factors to consider, definitely its never a surprise that dhow races frequently happen with the winners receiving significant honors. Locals from from Lamu East and West come in large amount to cheer for their home dhows.  The first winner named ‘Safina’ was awarded Ksh. 100,000 and the award was given to the owner of vessel named Abdillahi Mohd. The second dhow was ‘Husna’ owned by Said Ali and was awarded Ksh.75, 000.  The third emerged winner was ‘Tusitiri’ owned by Badi Amin where he went with Ksh.50, 000.

culture-4Aside dhow race, the other vessel competition was the Mashua race famously known as the wind sail race. The Mashua sails to the direction of the wind and go four turns to the finals. This competition takes around four hours to complete. ‘Computer’ was the winning Mashua, followed by Zalha and Peponi. The winners were awarded Ksh.150, 000, Ksh.  100,000 and Ksh. 75,000 respectively

culture-7An exceptional marvelous bottle yacht competition made the day to be remembered for all competitors during the event, where supporters and the many spectators lined the seafront to watch the exciting competition. The young boys who sailed the yacht with all the skills reached expected length to be covered. Sailor number one was Ali Mohammed, the second was Muhaji Sombwana and lastly the third position was Masuo Athman. The winners went home with Ksh. 15,000, Ksh. 8,000 and Ksh. 5, 000 respectively.

Other competitions that took place were, swimming which was categorized in faces, for the juniors, women, elderly, senior and intermediate. The awards winners were given Ksh.10,000, Ksh. 7,000 and Ksh. 4,000 respectively.

For the first time the cultural event introduced the poetry competition. Very powerful and moving poems giving messages on different grounds were recited.

For this case the awards were given upto the forth position and the first was awarded Ksh.20,000, Ksh. 15,000 Ksh. 10,000 and finally Ksh. 5,000.

Lamu has been famous with its festivals, many more events on the way are the Lamu Yoga Festival in March, and the festival brings together several hundred people and yoga teachers from around the world.  Other events are, cooking and fishing competition.

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