The Covid-19 pandemic will for the second year in a row deny Kenyans the opportunity to celebrate the annual Lamu Cultural Festival. which is held to showcase the rich culture and heritage of Swahili people.
The effects of the pandemic which resulted in inadequate fundraising and the delay by Kenya's ministries of Health and Tourism to authorise organisers to host the fete means that another year will go by with no event.
Lamu Cultural Festival Promotional Group (LCFPG) Chair Ghalib Alwy confirmed the four-day event will not be held this year owing to financial constraints.
“LCFPG, in partnership with the county government of Lamu and other sponsors, has always been spending between Ksh6 million ($53,000) to Ksh10 million ($89,000) in organising the event. By the end of four-day event, we would get over Ksh20 million ($178,000) in return. It’s unfortunate that we won’t be able to mark the fete again this year, majorly due to lack of funds,” said Alwy.
Previous festivals have hosted more than 30,000 people from local and global destinations.
Hoteliers who were banking on the event after losing millions in the past two years as a result of the pandemic have expressed their disappointment, and urged the organisers to ensure the event materialises next year.
“As tourism stakeholders, we have really been pushing for the return of the various annual festivals in this place. They have previously been used as platforms to market Lamu to the world. It’s unfortunate that we won’t have this year’s Lamu Cultural festival,” said Lamu Tourism Association Deputy Chair Fridah Njeri.
Launched in 2000, the festival is normally marked in the old town, a historical place that was listed in 2001 by Unesco as a World Heritage Site.