The county-level competitions for the annual Kwale Cultural Festivals have kicked off with citizens being urged to embrace culture for economic empowerment.
The county festivals were held at the Kwale cultural Centre in Matuga sub-county after the completion of the ward-level competitions.
Kwale county is preparing the best groups to compete in the 95th edition of the National Annual competition scheduled on 1st December in Kitui.
The event has made a comeback after a two-year hiatus owing to Covid-19.
The county-level competitions were officially inaugurated by the Social Services and Talent Management chief officer Francisca Kilonzo.
In Kwale, cultural competitions were first launched in 2014 to showcase and preserve the rich culture and heritage of the county’s communities.
The participants line up to project the uniqueness and beauty of traditional dances, songs, drama, foods, fashion, poetry and Qaswidas among others.
The competitions comprised all categories of groups of people. The elderly, youth, women and persons living with disabilities.
About 100 groups appeared for the contest, all with hopes to represent the county at the national level.
This year’s theme is embracing cultural diversity and connections in the 21st Century and beyond.
According to governor Fatuma Achani, the events are meant to embrace cultural diversities and cement the peaceful coexistence of the communities.
“Apart from promoting tourism, trade and cultural exchange the long-term goal is to strengthen the unity of our people,” she said.
Achani said through the competitions they intend to expose and nurture the talents of young people and create employment opportunities.
She said that last time the Sengenya dance got an opportunity to perform in Tanzania and Uganda representing not only Kwale but the entire country.
Achani said that Kwale has more than twice won competitions at national levels that have helped the talents of young people to be recognized and appreciated.
Achani said many have got the opportunity to perform for bigger events hence earning money.
She said the annual extravaganza is also subjected to keep the youth busy and salvage them from drugs and substance abuse.
The county chief advised the locals to support the events as they seek to improve their lives through talent management, tourism and trade activities.
On her part Kilonzo said that the cultural competitions provide a good platform to impart knowledge of cultures and traditions to the new generation.
“Many young people don’t know how things were done but with these events, they can pick one or two things about their culture,” she said.
The Chief officer said those who won’t make it to the finals would equally be awarded for their hard work.
She said the county has put in place proper mechanisms to have the talents continue nurtured and prepared for the future opportunities.
“We don’t abandon them after these events, we offer support to ensure their skills are sharpened and well catered for,” she said.
Chair of the county assembly sports committee Elizabeth Mwangolo said cultural competitions help to keep the government in check and enhance equal socio-economic growth.
She said through the dramas, poems and songs people get to highlight the challenges of the communities and failures of the existing administration.
Mwangolo said she is looking forward to having the cultural competition events be magnified to fully benefit the locals.
“I will table a motion in the county assembly to have the miss tourism Kenya competitions returned to provide opportunities for young people to explore their talents,” she said.
A participant from Mwavumbo arts group Nancy Nyale said she fend for her family through the cultural festival performances.
The mother of three said she gets chances to perform in different stages making a name for herself.