Thursday, 10 November 2011

Revival of kenyan cultural community festival

Bomas of Kenya  has revived community cultural festivals to identify cultural ambassadors for all Kenyan Community and create awareness on what culture  is all about and why it should  be marketed to tourism markets to complement the usual repertoire of wild animals , mountains, beaches and the like.

‘’Culture has for long been misunderstood by many people a showcase of people’s  backwardeness, primitivity and other negative aspects,’’ says Bomas of Kenya General Manager Quresh Ahmed . But this is far from the case and a complete fallacy, says the General Manager of Bomas of Kenya one of the Kenya’s leading cultural centre which is based in Nairobi. Culture ,, he says, is about a people’ s way of life, their heritage and language ,pride and uniqueness as a people . Everyone , he says, has  a cultural heritage that shapes their view of life and their individual identity.

To create awareness about the important of culture , as an important  tourism attraction and peoples identity . Bomas of Kenya and the Ministry of Tourism  started the Community Cultural Festival in 2006. That year a festival for the Turkana Community was held at the banks of Lake Turkana. It was meant, like all the others that followed, to help Kenyans, the world and the Turkana themselves  who they were , where they were coming from, their lifestyle and other social aspects of  that community.

‘’It was a great beginning and success and those involved now understood the  Turkana better, says Bwire Ojiambo, Bomas Production Manager.

The following year Mijikenda cultural festival was held in Mombasa and a Meru Cultural Festival was held at Kinooru Stadium, in Meru Town. After that, there were some hiccups and the event became dormant, until this year when it was revived with a Samburu and Ilchamus Cultural Festival at the Bomas of Kenya two weeks ago.

The organizers say that there is no going back this time until all cultural festivals are held for all Kenyan Communities.

During the festivals, the participants showcase their cultural dances, foods, cultural rites, artfacts, musical instruments, dress and other things that define who are . In the Samburu festival fir example, all these were showcased, and the pupils marveled, asked and were answered on all cultural aspects of the Samburu..

The events are also used to identify cultural ambassadors , who promote their cultures ambassadors in many forums both local and abroad. One such ambassadors is  Senan Kanana, 22 years old who has been a Meru Cultural ambassadors in many forums including the International tourism bourse in Berlin, Germany .’’I have finished  my bachelors of commerce degree in Marketing, as I look for a job, I am currently involving in organizing charity events to promote peace and unity and education through my foundation called Speaking for Good Foundation’’ she said.

Another ambassador, Jecinta Engolan of the Turkana has immersed herself in cultural affairs and has started a Turkana dress and artifact shop in Lodwar. She attends the shop when she is not travelling to preach the cultural gospel. Another ambassador is Tony Bahati of the Mijikenda in the Coast.

The next festival will feature the Teso people and will be held in  Bomas of Kenya, followed by Somali and Kalenjin.

Participants are chosen by organizers at the grassroots level, with practicing ones being guven priority. It is a tall order to organize successful events for all Kenyan communities, and it will be interesting to see how the organizers will measure the impact of their initiative.



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