What you need to know:
- Tharaka Nithi leaders have urged residents to guide their children and protect them from cultural practices that undermine their rights.
- The festival’s theme is ‘Embracing Cultural Diversity for Social Cohesion and Economic Development’.
- This is in line with the theme of this year’s International Day of the African Child: 'Rights of the Child in the Digital Environment'.
The first edition of the Muthambi Community Cultural Festival in Tharaka Nithi County got underway on Friday at Mugona with a call to end harmful cultural practices that undermine children's rights.
The festival’s theme is ‘Embracing Cultural Diversity for Social Cohesion and Economic Development’. This is in line with the theme of this year’s International Day of the African Child: 'Rights of the Child in the Digital Environment'.
Leaders, among them Muthambi MCA Nevert Kinuthia and Muthambi Assistant County Commissioner Dickson Simiyu, said female genital mutilation (FGM) is one of the cultural practices that seriously hinder the empowerment of the girl-child.
Mr Kinuthia said FGM contributes greatly to teenage pregnancies and early marriages because after undergoing the retrogressive cultural practice, girls are deemed ready for marriage even if they are still in school.
“This event has coincided with this year’s International Day of the African Child and some of the harmful practices affecting the African child are the retrogressive cultural practices like FGM,” he said.
The ward rep blamed poor parenting and abolishing of positive culture for the emerging practices "like homosexuality", terming it a major concern.
He urged parents to preserve positive traditions that guide their children to the right morals for the good of the community.
Mr Simiyu said drug abuse and consumption of illicit brews are serious problems in the region, especially among the youth. He said such cultural festivals should be used to sensitise young people to the repercussions of drug abuse and illicit liquor.
“Even if we are celebrating our culture, I don’t expect to see even the traditional brew consumed here because that is not a good culture,” said Mr Simiyu.
Njuri Ncheke Council of Elders Maara chapter chair Mjagi M’miriti stressed the need to end outdated cultural practices, drug abuse and consumption of illicit brew.
He added that the elders are supporting the government in the ongoing fight against drug abuse and illicit liquor to curb increasing crimes.
“We want to hold onto a positive culture and do away with the bad one that does not add value to our people,” said Mr M’Miriti.
Winning groups will further participate in the Tharaka Nithi Ura Gate Cultural Festival on September 14–16 at the gate of Meru National Park in Tharaka constituency.
In the recently tabled county government’s 2023/24 budget estimates, Sh10 million has been allocated to the cultural event.