Lamu Cultural Festival – of donkeys and dhows

The Dhow Regatta and the donkey races  held at the Lamu Cultural Festival are very popular, drawing large crowds of eager spectators.

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The Festival activities take place over 4 days to showcase shared heritage and musical traditions from civilizations that have influenced the Swahili culture over the centuries. The festival includes traditional dances, dhow races, swimming races, a donkey race, a poetry competition, soccer tournaments, traditional displays, exhibitions, and live musical performances.

The cultural festival is an attempt to showcase the culture of Lamu, and help preserve the history.  Dhow racing showcases dhows and also helps generate interest for a new generation of dhow sailors.  Dhows, although seemingly cumbersome, can be maneuvered  around objects by a skilled operator.  The dhow races require that the dhows race under sail through a complicated series of buoys, combining speed with elaborate tacking and maneuvering skill.

Donkey racing is the skill of getting an obstinate animal to run a course you set, as fast as possible, to win a race.  No easy task by any means, which makes it exciting to watch.  If you are more interested in swimming or cross country racing, then this festival is also for you.  Other fun activities to indulge in  are watching the Bao competitions (Bao, also called Mancala, is a game that is slowly becoming popular in the west), getting your henna painting/tattoo, and listening to Swahili poetry.

Learn more about the Lamu Cultural Festival by visiting the official website.