9, 10, 11 November 2007

Lamu Old Town is a unique and rare historical living heritage with more than 700 years of continuous settlement. In 2001, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Since then the Lamu Cultural Promotion Centre, a community based group, has been organizing an annual cultural festival to promote and preserve the unique Swahili heritage of the Lamu Archipelago.

The trade winds of the Indian Ocean have been bringing visitors from the world to the East African coast for over a thousand years. The local people of Lamu have a long established tradition of welcoming travelers. In the same spirit the Lamu Cultural Promotion Centre bids you a warm ‘Karibu’ to this year’s Lamu Cultural Festival to experience hospitality that has remained unchanged over the centuries.

The three day festival showcases traditional dances, displays of handicraft and competitions on water and land (Swahili poetry, donkey races, dhow races), and music and theatre performances from both local and visiting artists sharing a united heritage. This year’s programme will feature the dance/acrobatic show Piga Kelele’ by Kunja Dance Company from Nairobi and taarab music by the Jahazi Modern Taarab groupfrom Zanzibar . There will also be displays of traditional handicraft, henna painting and a Swahili bridal ceremony. Lamu Fort will host a photographic exhibition on ‘Doors & Windows of Zanzibar’ by Joy Owango and Gabor Lovei and ‘Portraits of Lamu’ by the renowned photographer, Nigel Pavitt. National Museums of Kenya and the Research Institute of Swahili Studies of Eastern Africa will present two discussions in Lamu Fort, open to the public, on ‘A crossroads of civilizations’ by the Spanish Ambassador to Kenya, H.E. Mr. Nicolas Martin Cinto, and ‘African Heritage in the Emirates’ by Mr. Abdulaziz Al Musalam, Director of Heritage & Cultural Affairs of Sharjah. These presentations will be moderated by Dr. Ahmed Yassin of RISSEA.

For the first time, the Festival will be showing short and feature films on, about and filmed in Lamu in the Mangrove Centre, including ‘Highlights of the 2006 Lamu Cultural Festival’by Oscar Mann, ‘The Swahili Beat’ by Kenny (Iki) Mann (an upbeat, musical look at the history of the Swahili coast and its people), ‘Subira’ by Ravneet Sippy Chadha (a story of an 11 yr-old Lamu girl who longs for the freedom enjoyed by her brother in the presence of the director and lead actress), and ‘Afrika Mon Amour’ by Carlo Rola (a three-part film about a courageous woman who moves to Africa from Germany to flee her past. The film was partly filmed in Lamu.)

Lamu offers accommodation to suit all pockets. Transport by road to Lamu is safe. Public transport from Mombasa leaves daily at 7, 10 and 11am (Tawakal Bus, Tel. Mombasa 041 222975). The journey from Mombasa to Mokowe on the mainland takes six hours, followed by a half an hour boat ride to Lamu Island .

Attached is a list of special weekend air packages to Lamu offered by Phoenix Safaris.

Other attractions include:

· Lamu Museum, exhibiting Swahili culture and the mainland’s non-Swahili groups

· Lamu Fort, dating back to 1821, having been built by the Sultan of Oman shortly after Lamu’s victory over Pate and Mombasa in the battle of Shela

·GermanPost Office Museum

·SwahiliHouse Museum

·TakwaNational Monument on Manda Island (a settlement dating back to AD 1500, with ruins of a Great Mosque and a pillar tomb)

·Ruins of Shanga, an 8th century Swahili settlement, on Pate Island, containing remains of the coral walls of 160 houses, two palaces, three mosques and hundreds of tombs

·The early Swahili settlement of Pate, once a power in the region

·Numerous sites and monuments that showcase Swahili civilization at its height in the 15th century

·Donkey sanctuary for the old beasts of burden

·The dhow making village of Matondoni

Come and experience the beauty and traditions of this mystical, exotic and serene archipelago.

organized by the Lamu Cultural Promotion Group

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