Tradition and Modernity blends as the Turkana cultural festival starts

Vincent Lomong’iro, 70, and James Abei (right), both traditional dancers from (Loima), prepare themselves for entertainment at Ekalees Centre where Todong’u Lore Cultural Festival held in Lodwar Turkana County. [Peter Ochieng/Standard]
It was a blend of tradition and modernity as the county yesterday began its annual cultural festival referred to as Tobong’u Lore (welcome back home).

Dignitaries mingled with locals as the latter prepared to showcase their rich cultural heritage.

Over 10,000 dignitaries, including Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga, are among the guests expected at the cultural festival that will run up to Saturday.

Women had special beads worn around their necks with heads painted with ochre on their mohawked hair.

Men, on the other hand, wore headgear made of white and black ostrich feathers. They also dressed in beaded shukas. Each had a walking stick and a traditional stool.

Vincent Lomonginor, 70, said the headgear exclusively worn by men indicate ones status in the society.

“The feathers signify an individual’s age set, whether they have undergone initiation or have undergone traditional marriage ceremony,” said Lomonginor.

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He said the cultural festival offers an opportunity to participants to appreciate, showcase and maintain their culture for posterity.

“Our African culture is steadily being eroded by westernisation and such cultural showpiece allows the young people to learn and maintain their heritage,” said the old man from Loima.

About 30 cultural groups will perform at the jamboree where The Standard Group PLC is the official media partner.

Emily Losekon also said the festival helps the youths to learn and maintain their culture.

“The festival offers the participants a platform to interact and integrate to bring the much-needed peace for development in the region. It also leads to opening up the region as an investment hub since the potential has been lying untapped for decades” she said.

Making profits

She hailed the cultural festival for turning around the narrative about the region known for insecurity.

The County Director of Trade and Investments James Lokwale said over 10,000 participants, including domestic and foreign delegates, translate into an expanded customer base for traders in Turkana during the four-day event.

“This will obviously be a socio-economic boost to the county’s trade and tourism sectors. By the time the festival ends, every single sector here is normally thriving with everyone making profits they would never have dreamt of,” said Mr Lokwale.

He said hotels and accommodation facilities, including home stays, have recorded full bookings, with all the five airlines plying Nairobi-Eldoret-Lodwar route fully booked since last week.

“The groceries, cereals and grain outlets have increased their supply stocks in anticipation of a business boom. At the Lodwar sale yard, livestock traders are doing brisk business selling goats to households and hoteliers in preparation to serve 'topeètokon', a popular delicacy in Turkana,” he stated.

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Tobong’u Lorecultural festival