More than 20,000 people from across the world are expected to attend this year’s Maulid festival which kicks off on Tuesday on Lamu Island.
Lamu’s Maulid Festival Organising Secretary Ustadh Idarus Muhsin has said they have already begun receiving Kenyan and international visitors.
Speaking to the Nation in Lamu on Monday, Mr Muhsin said all preparations are set for the four-day event, which runs from Tuesday to Friday.
He said Muslim faithful from various Islands of Lamu County, including Faza, Kizingitini, Ndau, Tchundwa, Matondoni, Kipungani, Kiwayu and other places of the archipelago, have already begun flocking Lamu Old Town – a Unesco World Heritage site – to mark the event.
Guests from Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and those from outside countries, including Tanzania, Yemen, Omani, Comoros Islands, United Arab Emirates, Middle East and even the United Kingdom are also expected to attend this year’s Lamu Maulid Festival.
“We are expecting between 15,000 and 20,000 guests to attend this year’s Maulid,” said Mr Muhsin.
Maulid Festival Coordinator Sheikh Mohamed Khitamy of Lamu’s Riyadha Mosque said this year’s festival is the 130th event since its inception in Lamu.
“It will bring together thousands of both local Muslim pilgrims and international tourists. All are welcome,” said Sheikh Khitamy.
Meanwhile, security has been tightened in Lamu Old Town and its environs ahead of the festival.
Lamu County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo said all vehicles coming into and leaving Lamu during the festival will undergo intense police checks to ensure no criminals or dangerous commodities are transported.
“We have deployed enough security here in the Island and all over the county. All visitors and Lamu people attending the Maulid Festival should rest assured that their security is guaranteed. We have also added more officers on our roads, and at sea to ensure we don’t have any reason to worry,” said Mr Kitiyo.
The county commissioner however asked residents and visitors attending the event to be vigilant and keep an eye out for any suspicious person or activity during the festival and report it to the police.
Mr Kitiyo said all owners of entertainment joints and hotels should keep updated records of all their clients and customers for easy security checks.
The Maulid Festival is marked annually by a section of Muslims in remembrance of the birth of prophet Mohamed (S.A.W) in the holy city of Mecca in 570AD.
The festival is marked every third month of the Islamic calendar.
The Lamu Maulid Festival attracts hundreds of both domestic and international tourists.
Various competitions, including the famous donkey race, Jahazi and Kasa races, dhow races, poetry among others, are also held during the festival.
Lamu is among the oldest towns on the East African Coast.
The Old Town also boasts of being among the first urban centres in the region to embrace Islam.
It has some of the oldest mosques and centres of Islamic learning in the world.