Former Lamu governor pledges to revive dead festivals

Guests enjoy a boat ride during this year’s Lamu Cultural Festival. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Former Lamu governor Issa Timamy has vowed to revive the county’s dead festivals if he is elected in the August 9 General Election.
Lamu’s annual festivals that have not been marked for years include the famous Cultural Festival, annual fishing competition, Food and Expo, Art, Yoga, Kite and Paint, and the Shella Hat Contest.

The events are known for drawing thousands of visitors from around the globe.

During Mr Timamy’s tenure between 2013 and 2017, Lamu Old Town was branded “the island of festivals”.

Addressing his supporters at the Mkunguni Square in Lamu town, Mr Timamy blamed his successor Fahim Twaha for ignoring the festival issue though such events are key tourist attractions.

Mr Timamy also accused Mr Twaha’s administration of neglecting Lamu Old Town, a Unesco World Heritage site, adding that the town’s seafront is always dirty and unattractive.

“Lamu Old Town is a perfect site for tourists. Its natural beauty has always made it one of Kenya’s major attractions. The festivals which used to be marked in this place are no more,” Mr Timamy said.

“In fact, I will ensure that this year’s Lamu Cultural Festival is celebrated in November.”

On the fishing sector, he promised to ensure that all unfavourable fishing restrictions in the Indian Ocean are scrapped.

“Fishing is a key economic earner for this county. My target is to come up with a structure that will see to it that all the unnecessary fishing laws and regulations are done away with to enable our fishermen to freely carry on with their activities in the Indian Ocean,” he said.

He said if elected governor, his priorities will include carrying out land surveys and demarcation, issuing title deeds to residents and resettling squatters.

He also promised to invest heavily in education and agriculture and improve the health sector, adding that the current administration has failed to ensure hospitals and dispensaries have drugs and enough workers.

On employment, Mr Timamy expressed disappointment that though Lamu is home to the mega Lamu port, which was opened by

President Uhuru Kenyatta on May 20 last year, few locals have benefited from it.

He vowed to fight for local youths get jobs at the port.

“Our youth need to benefit from the Lamu port. My target once elected is to have as many local youths as possible employed at the port so they can have a feeling of belonging. I will also fight to have those affected by the establishment of the Lamu port, including our fishermen, fully compensated,” he said.

Mr Timamy will be battling it out for the over 70,000 votes in Lamu with three other candidates, including the incumbent, Mr Twaha, of the Jubilee Party.

Others are former deputy governor Eric Mugo Kinyua of Narc-Kenya and Umra Omar Bwana of Safina.

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