The Lamu Cultural Festival; 28- 30 November, 2008

The Lamu Cultural Festival 28- 30 November 2008

Lamu Old Town is a unique and rare historical living heritage with more than 700 years of continuous settlement. In 2001, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Since then the Lamu Cultural Promotion Centre, a community based group, has been organizing an annual cultural festival to promote and preserve the unique Swahili heritage of the Lamu Archipelago.

The trade winds of the Indian Ocean have been bringing visitors from the world to the East African coast for over a thousand years. The local people of Lamu have a long established tradition of welcoming travelers. In the same spirit, the Lamu Cultural Promotion Group bids you a warm ‘Karibu’ to this year’s Lamu Cultural Festival to experience hospitality that has remained unchanged over the centuries.

The three day festival showcases traditional dances, displays of handicraft and competitions on water and land (Swahili poetry, donkey races, dhow races), and musical performances from both local and visiting artists sharing a united heritage. This year’s programme will feature the Arab-Andalusian group ‘Musica Antigua – Eduardo Paniagua’ from Spain as well as popular Taarab musicians from Zanzibar. The Spanish group, led by the award winning conductor, Eduardo Paniagua, specializes in interpreting medieval Arabic Andalusian music and play the lute, the hurdy-gurdy, the tromba marina, flute, organ and the darbuga (drum). There will also be displays of traditional handicraft, henna painting, Swahili food and a Swahili bridal ceremony. Lamu Fort will host an informative exhibition on the history and origin of ‘Swahili Doors’. National Museums of Kenya and the Research Institute of Swahili Studies of Eastern Africa will be organizing a workshop on the Lamu politician/poet (1760 – 1830) Zahidi Mngumi, which will culminate with the presentation of copies of manuscripts to Lamu Museum from the State Museums of Berlin and Hamburg.

Lamu Museum will be offering guided visit to Takwa Ruins on Manda Island on Sunday morning. Following the introduction of film shows at last year’s Festival, a series of films are scheduled once again in Mkunguni square on Sunday evening.

Lamu offers accommodation to suit all pockets. Transport by road to Lamu is safe. Public transport from Mombasa leaves daily at 7, 10 and 11am (Tawakal Bus, Tel. Mombasa 041 222975). The journey from Mombasa to Mokowe on the mainland takes six hours, followed by a half an hour boat ride to Lamu Island.

Other attractions include:

·Lamu Museum, exhibiting Swahili culture and the mainland’s non-Swahili groups

·Lamu Fort, dating back to 1821, having been built by the Sultan of Oman shortly after Lamu’s victory over Pate and Mombasa in the battle of Shela

·German Post Office Museum

·Swahili House Museum

·Takwa National Monument on Manda Island (a settlement dating back to AD 1500, with ruins of a Great Mosque and a pillar tomb)

·Ruins of Shanga, an 8th century Swahili settlement, on Pate Island, containing remains of the coral walls of 160 houses, two palaces, three mosques and hundreds of tombs

·The early Swahili settlement of Pate, once a power in the region

·Numerous sites and monuments that showcase Swahili civilization at its height in the 15th century

·Donkey sanctuary for the old beasts of burden

·The dhow making village of Matondoni

Through the Festival, the people of Lamu continue to share their heritage, both tangible and intangible with the wider world, promoting dialogue and understanding among pepoles and culture while at the same time playing an important role in promoting sustainable cultural tourism.

A wonderful opportunity to experience the beauty and traditions of this mystical, exotic and serene archipelago.
The Lamu Cultural Festival is organized by the Lamu Cultural Promotion Group

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