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The annual Kwale cultural extravaganza kicks off

The annual Kwale County cultural festival that aims to showcase some of the most culturally rich and vibrant local performances on stage has kicked off.

The weeklong extravaganza brought troupes from the county’s 20 wards in a major cultural fest hailed by cultural enthusiasts as a shining symbol of unity in diversity.

The cultural competition is in preparation for the 95th edition of the National Cultural Festival Competitions which will be held on 1st of December, 2022 in Kitui County.

The cultural event that is organized by the county’s department of social services and talent management is also meant to create awareness about the local cultures and promote tourism in the coastal county.

This year’s cultural festival is running under the theme ‘embracing culture diversity and connections in the 21st Century and beyond’ and has attracted over 200 groups across the six sub-counties of Matuga, Msambweni, Shimba Hills, Samburu, Lunga Lunga and Kinango.

On display during inauguration were traditional dances, folklore, choirs, solo verses, band music and Taarab hits, a tribute to the diverse communities that co-exist.

Sengenya, a traditional dance, stole the show on the opening day but other items such as Makonde dance, Zandale, Mazera Gozi, Taarab, and folklore pieces were equally entertaining.

Area Governor Fatuma Achani inaugurated the festival in a colourful ceremony held at the county cultural centre in Kwale town.

Achani underscored that cultural extravaganza is for the preservation and resuscitation of the local cultural heritage of all the communities domiciled in Kwale.

“We are alive to the fact that culture can be used to foster peace, unity, and integration and ultimately enhance county and national development,” she said adding the devolved unit will support such ventures with the aim of increasing both domestic and international tourist arrivals.

She stressed that the cultural extravaganza provides the much needed platform to revive interest in local cultures and in the long run promote national unity.

The county boss observed that the festival was a wonderful way to promote communal harmony and teamwork through the exchange of local cultures.

“My administration is committed to supporting and promoting our culture and natural talent,” she said while hailing Kwale’s rich cultural tapestry.

Governor Achani hailed the annual cultural extravaganza as an ideal platform to display the many colours of Kwale’s cultural melting pot.

“The festival has been organized in such a way that it brings alive our old traditions with a sprinkle of modernity,” she said at the opening ceremony.

Many cultural enthusiasts are worried that most local youths treat matters concerning cultural values with scorn and would rather jump at anything western.

But Achani says the enthusiasm and potential displayed by the cultural troupes drawn from across the county gives the audience hope.

In 2021, Kwale was crowned the champion of the 94th edition of the National Music and Cultural Competitions held at the scenic Mama Ngina Waterfront Park in Mombasa County.

The county garnered a total of 253 marks followed closely by Kakamega County with 247 marks.

Kwale emerged top in 56 categories, second in 34 categories, and third in 17 categories in the music and cultural extravaganza.

The county presented over 130 cultural groups composed of traditional dancers’, artists, craftsmen and women under the banner ‘Utamaduni Team’.

In the 2019 competitions, Kwale which also lifted the most improved county trophy finished ahead of Uasin Gishu County that was the 2nd runners up. Hosts Siaya and Mombasa counties were positioned 4 and 5 respectively.

The 2020 National Music and Cultural Competitions were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Hussein Abdullahi

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