Marsabit festival founder feted for empowering women

Wednesday March 18 2020
baltor

Ms Senteiyo Baltor(second, right) the founder of the Lake Turkana Cultural Festival and the chairperson of El-Mosaretu Women Group, has been feted for starting the group whose work includes empowering women and peace work. PHOTO | IRENE MWENDWA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By IRENE MWENDWA

From a women group advancement to a peace mission, the Lake Turkana Cultural Festival was born 11 years ago.

Ms Senteiyo Baltor, the founder of the festival and the chairperson of El-Mosaretu Women Group says they came together at first to promote their rich culture.

Ms Baltor says women from El Molo, Samburu, Rendille and Turkana came together and started running a curio shop trading in cultural artefacts from across the region.

“I later looked for Sh200,000 that helped me build traditional houses for all the groups of women that I had behind me,” says Ms Baltor.

Later on, following inter-clan clashes between the Gabra and the Dasanach she included women from the two communities, hence the beginning of the peace mission work of the group.

In 2008, the mother of three, invited the German Ambassador to Kenya during a peace mission that was aimed at ending tribalism and promoting reconciliation among the warring communities.

The Germany embassy had then supported the group and organized the first festival to promote their culture while trying to bring the communities together.

“At that time there were communities who were not able to co-exist. When the Ambassador came, he asked me what I wanted to do and I told him I want to build a house,” says Ms Baltor.

Loiyangalani camp site and the festival grounds were built as a result of her dream and financial aid from the German Embassy.

Now the women group runs a camp site, curio shops as well as providing cultural entertainment to tourists.

The camp site, for instance, has traditional houses for all 14 ethnic groups in Marsabit County.

The group also has taken up loans from the Women Enterprise Fund in bid to expand their business.

“After devolution, the Embassy withdrew support after two years. This is the first time that we have been recognised. We are glad the government still remembers the festival foundation,” says Ms Baltor.

The women group received trophies, sponsored by the Marsabit Woman Representative Safia Sheikh Adan, in recognition as champions of peace and promoters of the rich culture of Loiyangalani.

Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) acting regional coordinator said that the group has at the moment applied for a Sh350,000 loan to boost business.

“They have made me proud because they pay all their loans on time. They have also advanced a long way hence granting them loans is my not only my job but also my joy,” said Mr Abdinoor, the WEF coordinator.