The three-day first ever Mandera Somali cultural festival came to an end yesterday with calls from leaders to residents to remain united and preserve their culture.
The festival was used to showcase diverse Somali culture with different products such as herbs, ancient food stuff, traditional Somali houses, home products and traditional songs and dances.
Area governor Ali Roba said the event was not only meant to promote the Somali cultural heritage but also an opportunity for communities in the area to integrate and preach unity after years of inter-clan clashes that led to loss of lives displacement. The county has not had any inter-clan clashes since 2015.
“We have invested quite heavily in trying to end the inter-clan conflicts in our county,” Roba said. One of those who enjoyed the festival is Mohamed Abdi, once a resident of Mandera but had moved to the US 20 years ago where he had also started a family.
“ I moved to the USA and started a family there. My five children who are all now adults haven’t had exposure to their culture.
I quickly made up my mind to fly them here so that they get in touch with their roots. I am not disappointed at all, it can only get better,” Mohamed said. Roba noted that in the future Mandera will invite neighbouring Somalis and Ethiopians to join in the celebrations to make it bigger and better.
The governor said he will work closely with the county assembly to see to it that the event is gazetted so that it becomes an annual festival that will be celebrated every December between 9 to 11.
“We will nurture it and make it part and parcel of the fabric in the society such that whoever comes in as the governor will find pressing public demand to make sure the event happens,” he said.
Roba said the Department of Cohesion and Integration has always responded to issues pertaining to conflict when they arise. Lafey MP Abdi Mude said the fact that Mandera county that was once making headlines for all the wrong reasons could attract visitors from across the country and from outside was a clear indication that security has improved.
Balambala MP Omar Shurie challenged other counties in northern Kenya to emulate Mandera and organise similar events. The event, he said, brings communities together to eliminate frequent tribal clashes in the area.
Source: The Star