Lamu's cultural extravaganza breathes life into Kiwayu island

The spectacular island cut off from the rest of civilization, with an overgrowth of heavy mangrove forests, lies about 60 kilometres from Lamu town.

Access is limited to boats and canoes ubiquitous in the area since it is the only means of transportation.

Last week, the sleepy village, yet to be connected to the national electricity grid, came to life during the inaugural Kiwayu Cultural Festival.

For two days, the community of Kiwayu, led by Lamu County Governor, Mr Issa Timamy, celebrated the vibrant heritage and rich cultural diversity of the Bajuni and Swahili people with various sporting and social activities.

The menu included dhow and donkey races, beach football, swimming, art exhibitions, culinary experiences and traditional ceremonies.

The pristine white sandy beach was the launching pad for the talented youth to showcase their prowess in beach soccer as they competed for the top position to claim the many prizes up for grabs.

This was followed by swimming competitions, with the islanders coming out in their hundreds to participate in the activity that is almost second nature to them.

There was song and dance, merry-making, and Swahili delicacies.

The governor's dhow race was the showstopper event, owing to the huge interest exhibited during the event.

Cut off from the conventional transport system, the island, which relies solely on boats and canoes for movement from one island to the other and whose major economic activity remains fishing, attracted the participation of many boat owners and fishermen from the village.

Governor Issa Timamy kicks football during a beach soccer event. [ Robert Menza, Standard]

According to KPA's head of Corporate Communication, Mr Benard Osero, for over 15 years, the state corporation has built partnerships with the community by actively engaging in community initiatives.

"These initiatives promote cohesion, enhance the socio-economic status and improve co-existence among communities through the Corporate Social Investment program #tunahusika," Osero said.

He said that from the construction of classrooms, girls' rescue centres, health centres and laboratories, KPA has been at the forefront of driving the development of the community through supporting infrastructure upgrades, growing sporting talent and implementing environmental conservation initiatives.

And now, with the Port of Lamu operational, Osero said that KPA has intensified its partnerships with the community through increased investment in communal projects to uplift the living standards of the local community.

Osero said that the construction of the Port of Lamu and its subsequent operationalization has transformed the county, with KPA progressively becoming part of the Lamu County family.

"As a stakeholder in this community, we value our relations and are always at hand to support our community because this facility we operate is much ours as it is yours," the KPA manager said.

During the prize-giving ceremony, Governor Timamy thanked the KPA, the main sponsor for the event, for continued support of community programs in the county.

"We are delighted at the gesture by KPA to give a healing hand here and assure them of support as we aspire to build Lamu together," Timamy said.

KPA also supports the annual Lamu cultural festival, which attracts both local and international visitors from all around the world.