By Special Correspondent
Lamu Cultural Festival which is celebrated annually in the old town of Lamu opened on Thursday evening.
Lamu is a historical island city on the coastal side of Kenya and was listed as a heritage site in 2001 by Unesco.
The festival perennially seeks to showcase and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the Swahili people living in the old city.
This year’s event has set the stage for an array of cultural celebrations by the Lamu people and is expected to have over 30,000 visitors gracing the event both local and foreign.
The Old Town-Lamu boasts of a rich cultural reservoir that depicts the people who once lived and still living there. Indians, Africans, and Arabs occupied the region in the past years to conduct trade.
One of the famous cultural display at the festival is the renowned donkey race.
Other events that are lined up for the festivals include traditional dances, swimming, dhow races, traditional dance among others events typical of the Swahili people.
The annual festival has seen a huge influx of people and traders from the outside of the Old Town. Traders from Witu, Faza, Kizingitini, and Mpeketoni have since flocked the Island in preparation to reap big from the fortunes brought by the famous festival.
The four-day event that started on Thursday is expected to end this weekend on Sunday.
Leaders from the area and tourism representatives have urged the visitors to stop viewing Lamu as an insecure place. The city is peaceful, they say. Their call comes amidst insecurity fears from the frequent attacks by the terrorist group Al Shabaab.
The Lamu County Police boss Gilbert Kitiyo said there is adequate security in the area and there is no need to worry about the visitors attending the festival. He made the comments during his address to journalists before the start of the festival
He is optimistic about the festival contributing to the country’s tourism culture and affirmed that he had dispatched police officers to guard all public places where tourists and locals are congregating for the commemoration.
The Lamu Woman Representative Obbo Ruweida said that this year’ festival is aimed at healing the scars Kenyans have been subjected to through the polarized and highly divisive political period for the past three months. She added that instead of politicking, people should convene together and preach peace and reconciliation.
On her side, she is currently enjoying peace in the region and recommended the government for its dedication in fighting the Al-Shabaab militants in the neighboring Boni Forest.