At the main Bomas of Kenya dome on Saturday last week, you could almost cut through the air of excitement as a constellation of ethnic groups turned out to celebrate their common heritage and culture.
The men wrapped in white flowing woyya boftaashawls and the women in their guntina equivalents took to the floor, as the long day extravaganza featuring music, food and dance climaxed in late evening.
The Boranas can be a spirited lot and especially after gulping their specially prepared sour milk- ittittuu- after having a fill of meat (kooche). It was all evident on the floor as they rededicated themselves to their tribal feel.
Dubbed the ‘Borana Cultural Fair 2019’, and organised by the Borana Professionals Association with blessings of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) the event was a showstopper for its glamour and spirit. And the beauty of their women.
“The event is aimed at promoting peaceful co-existence between communities living in Marsabit and Isiolo counties. Culture and heritage is a powerful tool for promoting peaceful co-existence of our diverse communities,” Guyo Liban Dadacha, head of Peace Building and Reconciliation at NCIC told Sunday Standard.
Marsabit Governor Mohamud Mohamed Ali joined the people in a traditional jig. He was all for the unity, peace and development of areas inhabited by Boranas and other communities.
Political sentiments filtered in with a call on the government to relax Huduma Namba requirement by waiving birth certificate requirement to accommodate the pastoralist communities. Deputy President William Ruto crowned the event with his attendance.
“There were no officers to register and issue birth certificate in our areas until very recently,” said Governor Ali said. He also used the occasion to rally the community to participate in the registration drive and the upcoming census.
Moyale MP Qalicha Gufu called for preservation of Kenya’s multi-ethnic and multicultural heritage. Speakers rallied Parliament to enact legislation that protects and promotes culture of all Kenyans especially the minority groups.
“Kenyans should be proud of their identity. Culture is the pillar of identity and pride that distinguishes people from slaves. However, identity should not be used negatively, for example, to discriminate,” Guyo who was representing NCIC Commission Secretary Hassan Mohamed at the event.
In attendance too were National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani, Isiolo Governor Mohamed Abdi Kuti and Ethiopian Ambassador to Kenya Meles Alem.