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National Museums of Kenya hosts 9th Nairobi International Cultural Festival

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The 9th edition of the Nairobi International Cultural Festival was held in Kenya’s capital on Saturday at the National Museums of Kenya (NMK). The extravaganza saw foreign missions in Nairobi showcase their cultures through traditional music, dance, storytelling, art, crafts, and cuisine.

The National Museums of Kenya Director General Prof. Mary Gikungu noted that the festival which was started in 2013 had become one of the outstanding and popular international cultural celebrations with over 20 embassies and high commissions as well as Non-Governmental organizations participating.

“The Festival aims to foster mutual understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity, promoting unity and global cooperation through culture,” she said

NMK Board Chairperson Edwin Abonyo said the festival was more than an event but a celebration of collective identity and a reminder of the importance of cultural preservation and knowledge sharing.

“By sharing our traditions, stories, beliefs, art, and food, we not only keep our heritage but also educate and inspire future generations,” noted Abonyo

Abonyo later led other NMK and government officials present on a tour of various exhibition stands including those of China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Philippines, Peru, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Morocco among others. At the Chinese embassy stand he sampled tea served by Master Xie Yongzhong who flew to the country for the extravaganza.

“It’s about appreciating the different things that people do. Today we have been entertained to tea, very nice tea from the Chinese and Japanese sides. We also have our tea and the way we brew it. It’s all tea but it’s being handled differently by different cultures,” he said

Tang Jianjun, the Cultural Counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in Nairobi, who received Abonyo and others in the stand, noted that the extravaganza provided an ideal platform to strengthen bridges of friendship and pursuit of shared aspirations for citizens from all corners of the globe. He gave the example of sharing tea in Chinese culture and how it reflects the building of harmony.

“In the Tang Dynasty, more than 1000 years ago, someone said that tea has ten virtues which include Harmony. Chinese President Xi Jinping advocates the establishment of a community with a shared future for mankind. Now, China and Kenya are jointly building this kind of community. Harmony is one of the important goals of this community,” he said

Somalia Ambassador to Kenya Ambassador Jabril Ibrahim Abdulle used the occasion to announce an upcoming cultural event to be held by Somalia at the National Museums of Kenya as part of commemorations to mark the country’s Independence Day celebrations.

“The Somali embassy in partnership with the national museums of Kenya will host an exhibition of Somali heritage. This exhibition will be a vibrant showcase of artifacts, beautiful drawings, and the historical journey of the Somali people,” he said

The 2024 festival, themed ‘World at a Glance’ attracted hundreds of local and foreign guests. The extravaganza ended with a clarion call for people to embrace diversity as a catalyst for progress and harmony.

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