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Kakamega County pumps Sh7m in cultural centre

Isukuti dancers exhibit their prowess at Masinde Muliro University. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

The county government of Kakamega has set aside Sh7 million for the construction of an art gallery as part of efforts to preserve the region's rich culture and heritage.

Chief officer for Culture Brenda Barasa said the government has already pumped Sh5 million into the ongoing construction of the gallery in Shinyalu constituency while the rest will go into the operationalization of the facility.

Shinyalu is the home of the popular Isukuti dance, a traditional celebratory performance practised among the Isukha and Idakho communities of Western Kenya. It takes the form of a fast-paced, energetic and passionate dance accompanied by drumming and singing. 

"The remaining Sh2 million will be used to equip and operationalize the centre which will be used to preserve our heritage that is at the risk of being swept away by the modern culture,” said Mrs Barasa.

"We have Isukuti dance and drum which are recognised by UNESCO and identify the Abaluhya community. Isukuti is one of our top heritage and we intend to preserve it."

The centre will also stock books and digital literature on the Luhya culture and host culture experts who will pass key cultural information to the younger generation.

Dr Evans Taracha, the Chief Researcher at the National Museum of Kenya (NMK), said the government is working with 13 counties to preserve, promote and protect Kenyan cultures.

“This project is in line with the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expressions Act of 2016 where the national government intends to record, store, and document the culture digitally,” said Taracha.

He said the government intends to engage the indigenous people to help in actualizing the projects by offering traditional knowledge pertaining to each community's culture and unique aspects of their living.

"Each community has a unique and special cultural aspect that defines it. We are engaging indigenous people in the community who have the knowledge to help us," said Taracha.

Taracha said preserving culture in modern technology is the easier way of teaching the youths about their culture and making them embrace it.

Nabongo Mumia II, who attended the event, welcomed the move to collaborate with various county governments and engage the elderly in the initiative.

“We are happy to be engaged because most of the indigenous people are dying while others experiencing memory lapses. The project is important as it will provide information about our culture that will be stored digitally for our youths and future generations,” said Nabongo.

He urged the county government and national government to protect the culture and information about each community for the benefit of its generations.