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Turkana neighbours celebrate peace in annual festival

Thursday April 19 2018

Turkana cultural festival

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta (centre) attends the Fourth Turkana Tourism and Cultural Festival at the Ekalees Cultural Centre in Lodwar. With her is the host Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok (second right) and Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki (second left). PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Communities from three countries that have fought for decades but which have enjoyed peace for the last four years converged in Turkana County on Thursday to celebrate their harmonious co-existence. 

The border communities from South Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda joined their counterparts from Kenya in the fourth edition of the Turkana Cultural Festival in Lodwar. 

The festival, popularly branded Tobong'u Lore (Turkana for welcome home) by the county government, has been praised for enabling former warring communities embrace peace.

It is the fourth time the three-day event is being held and the Turkanas from Kenya, Toposas from South Sudan, Karamojong from Uganda and Nyangatom from Ethiopia had an opportunity to showcase their cultural dances and attires. 


The first event was held in 2014 but the county did not stage the fete last year because of the General Election.


Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok said the communities had enjoyed peace since the festival was launched five years ago.

Other than celebrating the Turkana's culture, the annual event allows communities to interact with their neighbours and appreciate their cultural diversities.

"This festival is to celebrate peace. These are neighbours who have been fighting over pasture for their livestock and boundaries, but since we started this festival we have seen peace return," said Mr Nanok.

The opening of this year's festival was graced by the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.

"It is not only to celebrate Turkana's culture but it has helped promote harmonious living among the communities. Bringing together communities helps us tolerate one another," she said. 

The First Lady said it was important for communities to appreciate their cultures, adding it helps them understand who they are.

The event was also attended by various delegations from the neighbouring countries.

Uganda’s Karamoja Affairs Minister John Byabagambi and South Sudan’s Eastern Equatorial Region Governor Lius Lobong were among foreign dignitaries to attend the cultural festival.

Locally, governors Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi), Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo-Marakwet), Stanley Kiptis (Baringo), Prof Lonyangapuo (West Pokot and Daniel Chemno (Uasin Gishu deputy governor) attended the festival.