Donkey triathlon added to Lamu annual festival

Lamu donkey race

Locals take part in the Donkey Race Competition during the 20th Edition of the Lamu Cultural Festival on November 26, 2022.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit

The Lamu Cultural Festival that began on Thursday is expected to end on a high note tomorrow.

There is a new challenge – triathlon – in the 20th edition of the festival this year.

An ordinary triathlon involves swimming, cycling and sprinting. But the Lamu version is different as it has no bicycles; only donkeys.

During the official opening of the festival on Thursday, triathletes competed in swimming and running but the final stage involved riding the beast of burden.

Lamu Old Town, where the event is taking place, is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Any form of westernised culture, including modern means of transport, is not allowed.

The mode of movement accepted here is walking, riding a donkeys or using a handcart.

Vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles are not allowed in Lamu Old Town.

This is one of the reasons that drove festival organisers to change one of the stages of the triathlon from cycling to donkey riding.

Lamu Governor, Issa Timamy, said triathlon finalists would bag hefty prizes.

“The winner will get Sh100,000,  the runner-up Sh80,000 while number three will be given Sh60,000,” the county boss said.

Day Two of the festival attracted many local and international tourists.

More than 30,000 people are at the fete, whose aim is to showcase the culture of local communities.

The theme of this year’s festival is: “Celebrating Lamu: A Melting Pot of Diversity and Multiculturalism.”

The first day of the festival witnessed donkey and boat races,  swimming, football and triathlon.

Manda, Wiyoni and Anidan primary schools organised parades and entertained the many guests.

The seafront has been a beehive of activities from the start of the festival on Thursday.