In addition to sightseeing and water sports, Lamu Island is famous for its cultural and religious festivals that attract thousands of visitors from across the globe.
The island hosts 17 festivals annually, with the most famous ones being the Lamu cultural, Maulid, yoga, arts and Lamu food festivals.
Held in the last week of November, the annual Lamu cultural festival is the oldest and the most popular event on the island.
The week-long event is aimed at promoting peace and harmony, as well as appreciating diversity and fighting marginalization on the island.
It is also designed to give visitors a taste of the Swahili life, traditions and culture.
Lethu Moti, a South African, is one of the tourists planning to attend the festival. She toured Lamu for the first time in August, and plans to go back for the cultural festival.
Moti, who runs a tour company in Cape Town, said her friends have been attending the cultural event annually and she looks forward to accompanying them this year.
“I’m already in love with Lamu Island. It’s nice, quiet and people are friendly,” she said. “For the first time, I’m in a place where there are no cars, but many donkeys. In fact, I took a photo with a donkey.”
Several competitions are staged during the festival. Competitions include traditional Swahili poetry, henna painting, dhow races and swimming competition.
The donkey race is the real highlight of the event because the animal is a symbol of Lamu’s culture. Donkey jockeys literally spend the entire year honing their riding skills for this event.
Traditional activities like dhow building, fish-trap making and palm weaving are also demonstrated. Traditional dances are also performed, livening up the magic of the event.
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