Mandera County holds cultural fete

Traditional Mandera villagers sing and play percussion as local leaders and guests look on at the ongoing Mandera Somali Cultural Festival yesterday. [Allan Mungai, Standard]
Rich culture was showcased as Mandera County kicked off the inaugural Mandera Somali Cultural Festival yesterday.

Residents turned up at the Mandera Moi Stadium to have a taste of Somali cuisine, music and dance and a display of historical artifacts.

Governor Ali Roba kicked off the three-day festival to celebrate the culture of the Somali community as the county looks to move forward from its dark history with violent extremism.

Attending the opening ceremony were Mandera Senator Mohammud Mohammed, Woman MP Amina Gedow, Speaker Mohammed Khalif and Deputy Governor Ahmed Arai among others.

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The cultural festival ends today.

The event was marked as United Nations Development Programme announced plans to set new offices in the town.

Dr Asfaw Kumssa, the Chief Technical Advisor for Cross Border programmes, said the organization was shopping for office space in Mandera Town to entrench its operations.

Roba said the festival would help bridge differences and break stereotypes.

"We are here to celebrate our rich heritage and cultural diversity after a long time because of the challenges we have faced,” he said.

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Roba said Mandera County had been marginalised by successive regimes and that even archivists had little information about the cultural heritage and artifacts of the Somali community.

“We had an elaborate social cultural and economic system that was deeply rooted in our forefathers and mothers but slightly distracted by modern lifestyles,” he said.

The governor said Kenya was rich, with diverse cultures that needed to tapped for tourism potential.

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Mandera CountyMandera Somali Cultural Festival