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Annual Lamu cultural festival returns after Covid-19 break

The 20th annual Lamu cultural festival kicks off on Thursday with thousands of guests and tourists expected to attend the event after the Covid-19 pandemic eased.

Launched in 2000, the festival is normally marked in the old town, a historical place that was listed in 2001 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The festival organized by the Lamu County Government aims to promote tourism, trade and cultural exchange at the archipelago that has long held an irresistible appeal for visitors.

For the last two years the annual event which is held to showcase the rich culture and heritage of Swahili people was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus restrictions.

Lamu Old Town is a unique and rare historical living heritage with more than 700 years of continuous settlement and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The annual cultural festival is one of the most anticipated events that provide a wonderful opportunity to experience the island’s pristine beaches, medieval ambience, magnificent old stone town and age old traditions of an enchanted island where history continues to live.

Other annual festivals held in Lamu include Maulidi Islamic Festival, Lamu Yoga Festival, Lamu Painters Festival and the Shela Hat Contest.

Lots of exciting activities are lined up for display such as traditional Swahili poetry, henna painting, donkey races and dhow sailing, culminating with a traditional Swahili wedding and a chance to enjoy various Swahili dishes.

Lamu Governor Issa Timamy said that they are very excited at the return of the cultural festival since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Timamy said the cultural festival that seeks to uniquely project the beautiful and diverse local cultures and traditions is set for kick off in style.

The event that begins on Thursday and ends on Saturday will be running under the theme ‘A melting pot of diversity and multiculturalism’.

Timamy says the festival presents the perfect opportunity for domestic and international tourists to celebrate the diversity of the local cultures.

Timamy called on all and sundry to rally behind the annual cultural extravaganza adding that it seeks to project a good cause.

The county boss asked stakeholders in the tourism sector to throw their support behind the cultural initiative terming it the ‘archipelago’s hospitality symbol’.

He said the island dwellers will present their history, heritage and culture which he termed as the key in the business growth of the devolved unit that heavily depends on tourism as its economic mainstay.

Timamy contended that the year round festivals will offer visitors the opportunity to explore the archipelago and ‘discover what makes Lamu truly unique’.

A cross-section of hoteliers who spoke to KNA said they anticipate booming business during the festive period as they have received heavy bookings and reservations.

By Mohamed Hassan


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