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Nakuru: Turkana leaders want hollow politics out of annual festival

The diaspora caucus of the Turkana Community has asked politicians to refrain from politicizing the annual Turkana Cultural Festival that aims to build and foster peace and cohesion in the troubled North Rift.

The caucus’ Chairman Justus Ekemol says politicians hijacking the annual fete merely for political capital are doing a disservice to the Turkana Community that has not only bore the brunt of years of marginalization but also communal strife.

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Speaking in Nakuru days after the closure of the three day extravaganza in Lodwar, Ekemol called on opposition politicians to accord the Turkana community and its leadership due respect by considering them as partners in development rather than political pawns.

He noted that politicization of the festival only succeeds in polarizing ethnic groups in the area, hence negating the core purpose of the annual fete.

In an apparent reference to the controversy pitting Turkana Governor Jeremiah Ekamais against Opposition leader Raila Odinga last weekend, Ekemol pointed out what he described as ‘subtle sabotage’ of the Turkana Community in its bid to foster cohesion with neighboring communities in the region.

The annual Turkana Festival (Tobung`u Lore), a celebration of indigenous culture, is hosted by Turkana indigenous adjacent to Lake Turkana to promote peace, cultural exchange and tourism.

Last Weekend the community denied Odinga a chance to address participants of the festival for what it termed as blatant and perpetual marginalization by the opposition chief in his  leadership despite years of unwavering support.

“All we want as a community is a pride of place in Hon. Odinga’s leadership. We have all along supported his causes overwhelmingly, but the community has always received the short end of the stick,” said Ekemol.

Opposition luminaries Martha Karua, Eugene Wamalwa, George Wajackoyah and Peter Munya were among leaders that accompanied Odinga to the revered festival.

Ekemol also demanded an apology from the leaders of the Azimio coalition for undermining the community’s festival which he said is crucial in the pursuit of socio-economic aspirations of the pastoral community and its neighbors in the restive North.

Accompanied by a cross section of the Turkana Diaspora caucus, the Chairman used the occasion to laud the Government for arresting conflict in the region by imposing the dusk to dawn curfew in Kapedo area of Turkana East amid spates of disruptive violence.

He observed that the restriction of movement between 6pm and 6am has helped to restore normalcy in the region that had contended with banditry and skirmishes that led to loss of lives and property, closure of schools and loss of business.

Dennis Rasto
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