Marsabit County leaders bank on Dec cultural fete to preach peace, cohesion
Marsabit County leaders are heavily banking on the upcoming cultural festival slated for next month to address insecurity influenced by inter-clan conflicts.
The leaders who spoke in Nairobi during the launch of the 12th edition Marsabit Lake Turkana Cultural Festival said the event, besides enhancing peace and cohesion should start to attract income.
The festival attracts 14 communities that have traditionally resided in the County.
Governor Ali Mohamud Mohamed noted that since the festival was now attracting interest from outside the country, locally leaders and residents should strive to promote peace.
"This region which has even great potential is permanently at a crossroads. We have faced and continue to face conflicts and humanitarian crises. It remains both fragile and volatile. But come December 5th, 6th, and 7th, as we showcase our rich culture, we want to demonstrate to the whole world what this region can offer,” said the governor.
He said the recent insecurity in the county has already been addressed through various government agencies led by the Interior Ministry.
“We have been engaging various stakeholders including communities, leaders, and now, through the national security docket, the situation has been brought under control.
But, what we are doing is to show the world that we are not going to be bogged down by some of these irritants who keep on causing the security to retard development in our county. That we will not allow.
"We want to show the larger Marsabit peace-loving communities that we cannot surrender to the criminals that there is more that brings us together so that we shall be having prosperity within the county” he said.
And yesterday as the Governor unveiled the festival he said the cultural event has gone beyond the country’s borders.
The Governor warned that death of a tradition is the death of a society – physically and culturally, and that people must be prepared to celebrate their culture as a treasure from the past, but which is intricately connected to the present reality of life.
“That is why we are gathered here today to inform the global community within and beyond our borders that we have set aside the 5th, 6th and the 7th days of December 2019 to celebrate the cultural and the linguistic diversity that Marsabit County is blessed with,” the Governor said.
He said the County Government is already in talks with various countries including India and China to have the artists from the county perform there. “Following this development, Turkey has written to the county inviting us to perform there,” he added.
Other leaders who were present including Ethiopian ambassador to Kenya, Meles Alem said the upcoming Marsabit Lake Turkana cultural festival is one of the best platforms to achieve cohesion and lasting peace.
Alem's presence at the media launch of the 12th edition of the Marsabit Lake Turkana cultural festival yesterday was significant to the much-sought after peace in the region.
He said the upcoming festival is important for cohesion and peace between the two countries, but mainly the communities living along the common border. The ambassador said the festival is an opportunity for both countries to start dismantling the imaginary boundary between them.
"Ethiopia and Kenya are not neighbours; rather, they are siblings from one family. The imaginary boundary with us is artificial. The communities along the common border are just one. The diplomatic relations between Kenya and Ethiopia is characterised by two facts.
“No matter what kind of governments we had; the relationship remains smooth and consistent. The second is the relationship of these communities,” Alem said.
He said already the government of Ethiopia has facilitated delegations from its country to cross the border for the three-day festival.
“During the festival, we will have delegations from Ethiopia coming to join their brothers and sisters in Kenya to celebrate culture; eat together and experience peace together,” he added
The county's elected leaders expressed determination to bring together the Gabra, Garre, Borana, and Burji communities, who occasionally clash, sometimes due to competition for resources, and other times, due to historical reasons.
All the leaders from Marsabit have called on the 14 communities who reside in the county to support them in enhancing lasting peace.
Marsabit senator, Godana Hargura said the cultural festival was started 12 years ago due to the diversity of the county.
"The festival was started to bring cohesion of people around Loyangalani, however, we have been having a challenge of cohesion in Marsabit and it has escalated recently recently. But, this festival gives us an opportunity to enhance peace. Let's co-exist. Let's develop together," he said.
Moyale Member of Parliament, Qalicha Gufu on his part said culture is an important initiative to enhance cohesiveness because it brings together all the 14 communities in the county. "
It improves efforts towards lasting peace," Gufu said.
Laisamis MP, Musa Arbele, said Marsabit has been in the public limelight for all the wrong reasons but this event is going to catalyse the bad publicity.
"The festival is about cohesion, and the three days will be used to celebrate the county's unity," he added.
The County Women Representative, Safia Sheikh Adan called on all the communities to support the leaders in their quest to bring them together- in order to address the insecurity issues in the region.
"Let's embrace peace in our county. We must have ability to solve our problems. We are your leaders and we need your support to embrace peace in order to serve you well," she said.