Attractions galore at Maralal camel derby

Sunday September 08 2019

The 36th edition of the Maralal Camel Derby in Maralal on August 31, 2019. The sporting event was started 30 years ago by residents. PHOTO | SAMUEL BAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The annual Maralal International Derby, whose 30th edition ended on Sunday, continues to be among the cultural events that attract large numbers of both local and international visitors.

The event, which takes place at the end of August, has been a consistent crowd-puller and the Samburu County government is now taking advantage of it to market the county as a tourist destination.

The sporting event with a cultural element was started 30 years ago by residents and has since seen thousands of Kenyans and foreigners participate.

The county government wants the event entrenched in the national tourism calendar to reap maximum benefit.

This year, the event lived up to expectations as those in attendance were treated to an array of activities showcasing Samburu, Pokot, Somali and Turkana cultures.

This year's theme was, "The promotion of sports tourism and cultural diversity for social and economic development".



The camel derby involves camel jockeys at both the amateur and professional levels, athletics and bicycle competitions.

Visitors witnessed a traditional Samburu wedding where a moran, after living with his wife for over 10 years, opted to formalise their union.

In Samburu, a marriage without all the traditional rites is not recognised and the couple would still be referred to as boyfriend and girlfriend even if they sire children and live for many years.

The event has also been used to foster peace between the warring communities of Samburu and Pokot.

Pokot, Samburu and Turkana manyattas were built to commemorate the event, with Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal observing that the event was a big step in forging peace and stability.


The Samburus showcased their camel-riding prowess to the visitors who thronged the flagging venue at Yare village near Maralal town.

“We know the importance of our culture and we must compliment it wherever we are in this world,” said one of the locals.

Governor Lenolkulal and his deputy Julius Leseeto assured the residents of his support towards the event and welcomed other partners.

He also thanked the Tourism ministry and Kenya Tourism Board for their support.

“The Maralal International Camel Derby will always remain in our annual tourism and cultural events calendar. We have since seen the immense potential on the economic and social fronts that the camel derby has. It has positively impacted hundreds of our people,” he said.

He added that moving forward, the devolved government will devise plans and strategies to improve on the weak areas as far as the standards of the event are concerned.

Some of the sponsors of the occasion were The Northern Rangelands Trust, Kenya Commercial Bank, Save the Elephants Project, Supa Sacco Maralal, Grevy's Zebras Trust and Safaricom.