First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has underscored the need to preserve the diversity of the country’s rich cultural heritage, saying it enhances Kenya’s identity at the global arena.
She said in promoting culture, focus must be placed on positive values that boost peace and harmony.
The First Lady was speaking in Lodwar Thursday where she braved a heavy downpour to preside over the official opening of the 4th Turkana Cultural and Tourism Festival.
“Today also celebrates harmonious living. Because blending communities together accords us the capacity to co-exist and foster better understanding among people – hopefully to make us stronger,” said the First Lady.
She said cultural events are crucial as they enable the younger generation to understand their roots.The First Lady observed that cultural presentations demonstrate the true identity and similarities that are unique to particular communities.
“It is presentations such as these – whether demonstrated through dance, drama, music and cuisine – that we are able to impart our true identity, our similarities and things that are unique to us,” said the First Lady.
The annual festival, dubbed Tobong’u Lore (coming home), is staged to showcase the Turkana rich cultural heritage and diversity, apart from being used as a networking platform with opportunity for economic and innovative exchange of ideas.
The First Lady expressed hope that by bringing together thousands of people every year, the event would bring back home the Kenyan diaspora to participate and appreciate the potential of devolution.
She commended Turkana County for organizing the event that was also geared towards fostering inter-community peaceful coexistence.
“I have heard that this is one of the most celebrated festivals, and probably the most anticipated event of the tourism calendar here in Kenya, regionally and internationally. And so I thank the organizers of this event,” said the First Lady.
She said the event is a perfect example for recognising the social and economic benefits of culture, expressing optimism that other counties would emulate Turkana and hold similar events.
“The success of such events demands that it reaches out to a diverse audiences across generations from far and wide,” said the First Lady.
The event attracted over 20,000 delegates from across Kenya as well as Government and political leaders from the neighbouring countries of Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Delegates from neighbouring countries were also accompanied by cultural troupes, which showcased their cultural lifestyle through dance and songs.
“The historic importance of this place we have gathered has been recorded as a ‘hotspot’ of human evolution and the ‘birthplace of mankind’. It is, therefore, not surprising that the festival attracts thousands of visitors every year since its inception in 2014,” said the First Lady.
Speaking during the occasion host Governor Josphat Nanok said the cultural event has helped restore peace and harmony between the Turkana people and their neighbours both within and beyond the country’s borders.
“This event helps us to celebrate peace. It provides us an opportunity to identify ourselves as one people,” said Governor Nanok.
He said the county government in collaboration with the national government and other stakeholders want to use the event to rally the Turkana community around economic and social development.
The Governor disclosed that he decided to work with the national government immediately after the October fresh presidential election because he knew Kenyans had already made a decision on whom they wanted as their leaders.
“We have decided to work with the national government to bring development to our people. We, as the Council of Governors, would want to resolve matters amicable. We might have differences but we will resolve them amicable,” said the Turkana Governor.
The three-day colourful event attracted various cultural dance troupes from Turkana and West Pokot, as well as Burundi refugees who performed the famous talking drums, among others.
Also present were Governors Louis Lobong Lojore of Eastern Equatoria State of South Sudan and Minister of Karamojong Affairs in Uganda John Byabagambi.
Others were Governors Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi), Stanley Kiptis (Baringo), John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot) and Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet).