Residents of Lamu island are once again preparing for the annual cultural festival.
The festival, which will feature performances by groups from Kenya and abroad begins on November 9 and runs till November 11.
The famed Jahazi Modern Taarab group from Zanzibar will be one of the main attractions.
This year’s programme will also feature the dance and acrobatic shows dubbed Piga Kelele by Kunja Dance Company from Nairobi.
Held in Lamu Old Town, a historical heritage with more than 700 years of settlement, the annual cultural festival is organised by the Lamu Cultural Promotion Centre, a community-based group.
Since 2001, the festival has played a key role in promoting and preserving the unique Swahili heritage of the Lamu archipelago, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO the same year.
Last year’s main attraction was the Whirling Dervishes from the Mevlevi Sufi Orders based in Konya, Turkey.
This year’s three-day festival will also showcase various traditional cultural activities like henna painting, kupaza (grinding), kutema (wood carving), kusuka (mat weaving), fish trapping, making makuti, bao games, dhow building, mbuzi (black smithing) and embroidery.
For the first time, short and feature films on Lamu will be screened at the festival. They include Highlights of the 2006 Lamu Cultural Festival by Oscar Mann, The Swahili Beat by Kenny (Iki) Mann. The film looks at the history of the Swahili coast.
Subira by Ravneet Sippy Chadha and Afrika Mon Amour by Carlo Rola will also be screened.
The donkey race, one of the festival’s highlights, will have donkey riders competing at the seafront.
The popular dhow race will feature competitors from Lamu, Pate, Ndau, Bajumwali and Matondoni.
There will be a photographic exhibition titled Doors and Windows of Zanzibar by Joy Owango and Gabor Lovei and Portraits of Lamu by renowned photographer Nigel Pavitt.
The National Museums of Kenya and the Research Institute of Swahili Studies of Eastern Africa will present two discussions on Lamu Fort – A Crossroads of Civilizations by the Spanish Ambassador to Kenya Mr Nicolas Martin Cinto, and African Heritage in the Emirates by Mr Abdulaziz Al Musalam, Director of Heritage & Cultural Affairs of Sharjah. The presentations will be moderated by Dr Ahmed Yassin of RISSEA.