Preparations for the 21st annual Lamu Cultural Festival are in top gear with over 30,000 guests expected to attend.
The festival showcases the rich cultural heritage of Lamu and has over the years been a major tourism attraction both locally and internationally.
Lamu Governor Issa Timammy said the fete is set to be held from November 30 to December 2.
In an interview the Governor said since his re-election the County held the Cultural Festival last year which was successful but expected this year to be bigger and better.
He said this year the festival will additional activities including beach football since about three Lamu youths are in the Kenya beach national football team.
“We recently concluded the Kiwayuu Dhow race and for the first time we showcased beach football, we saw there was a lot of enthusiasm and follow-up by members of the public so that will be an addition,” he said.
He said they also plan to have a peculiar triathlon competition that will include swimming, running and donkey riding.
Timammy said there will also be much more activities including the splendour of the culture, the Lamu Cuisine and the unique atmosphere of the Lamu Archipelago.
“I am inviting all Kenyans and also non-Kenyans to come and join us during these three days of the Lamu Cultural Festival,” he said.
The Governor said since the last Lamu annual Cultural festival tourism has been booming in Lamu both locally and internationally.
Since then, flights from Nairobi to Lamu are usually full especially over the weekend such that anyone wishing to travel has to book early not to miss a flight.
Currently, he said they have revived the brand of Lamu as an Island of festivals and this month there will be the Yoga festival, and Maulid festival in October followed by the Lamu Cultural festival.
“In August we had the Kiiwayu dhow race so we are living by our name that Lamu is an Island of festival,” he said.
The CEC Member for Tourism, Trade, Investment and Culture Aisha Miraj said all is set for the culture that is scheduled for the end of this month adding that currently they are sourcing for funds to enable the fete to be successful.
In terms of preparations, she said security measures have been put in place to ensure the guests can travel safely by road to Lamu.
“So far Lamu is safe so many people are travelling to and from Lamu along the road, also flights are operating smoothly bringing in tourists,” she said.
Miraj said during the three days they organized different competitions to showcase the diverse and unique culture of Lamu including the dhow race, and donkey race, among many others.
She said so many dignitaries and visitors have shown interest in visiting Lamu including Ambassadors from countries like Germany, Kuwait, and Oman together with Kenyan VIPs such as Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and many others have confirmed attendance.
“We are expecting more than 30,000 visitors during the festival because we are getting so many phone calls from people who want to book hotels in advance to avoid challenges of missing accommodation,” she said.
The CEC member said in case the number of visitors will be more they will be forced to plead with the locals to give space for the visitors during the festival.
Mohamed Mbwana the Lamu CEC Member for Finance said the festival will help improve the economy of the county and enable locals to earn a living.
He said boats and vehicles will have booming business during the festival which will create employment for locals.
“Food is very important locals will have a chance to do business locally, we understand hotel owners will not be able to serve the entire population of visitors who will come for the festival which will create job opportunities for the local community,” he said.
Apart from just showcasing Culture Mbwana said the festival normally showcases investment opportunities available in Lamu including being a strategic area for blue economy investments, fishing, and Agriculture.
He said those visiting such as Ambassadors, and top National government officials will be able to see the investment opportunities and bring investors to Lamu.
Johnson Ndokolani a Kaya elder said they will be able to showcase their cultural activities during the festival.
He called on youth to cooperate and ensure culture is promoted in the county and the Coast region at large.
“This year’s culture will be the biggest we have invited other Kaya elders from outside the county and will showcase different cultural activities including the traditional way of marriage for the Mijikenda,” he said.