Organisers of the just-ended 17th edition of the Lamu Cultural Festival are breathing fire.
The reason for their massive upset is Tanzania-based music troupe, Offside Trick who breached the cultural taste of the festival by dancing overly explicitly, leaving many embarrassed.
The festival came to a close on Sunday.
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Those who had turned up to witness the dance including children, elders, religious leaders and invited dignitaries had to hide their faces as dancers and singers of the The Offside Trick troupe left little to imagination.
One of the women dancers, particularly irked the observers by letting her hair loose and showing too much skin.
This is contrary to the Islamic religious belief. Most of Lamu residents are Muslims.
Event organisers and area leaders had to literally walk to the podium, switch off the microphones and forcibly drag the dancers and singers from the stage.
Many of the attendees said the troupe’s performance did not in any way reinforce the cultural aspect of the festival.
Observers said the explicit manner in which members of the Offside Trick danced was not only embarrassing and shameful, but also a direct disrespect and disregard to the general theme and objective of the event.
This is because they had earlier on been briefed about the cultural event and asked to prepare accordingly.
According to the organisers, the group had been asked to only perform songs and dances that would go along with the cultural theme.
Several attempts and interventions to have the group rectify their performances fell on deaf ears as they would resume with the explicit dancing each time they were allowed back on stage.
The night ended prematurely when the event organisers forced the dancers to leave the stage, although other invited dance and music groups were yet to perform.
Coast region deputy director for the National Museums of Kenya Athman Hussein said the performance was in bad taste.
He said there is need for any artistes invited to the cultural festival to be vetted and approved by the Lamu Cultural Festival Promotional group before being allowed to be part in the ceremony.
“That was a very embarrassing and regrettable incident. Lamu is a historical town, which is also enlisted as a Unesco World Heritage site. We must all strive to preserve the Culture of Lamu. Such incidents are a danger to our culture,” Hussein said.
Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics chairman Sheikh Mohamed Abdulkadir said what the group did, was not only a breach of the cultural aspect, but also surpassed religious limits.
“Majority of Lamu people are Muslims, who observe strict religious believes, including dressing and entertainment. We dance in a particular way in a manner that respects religion unlike what the artistes did at Mkunguni on Saturday night. The least they could do is apologise,” he said.
The Lamu Cultural Promotional Group officials have absolved themselves from any blame.
They placed the blame squarely on the county government.
“We aren’t responsible for what happened. The artistes were invited and sponsored by the county government. We however blame the artistes too since we understand they were to only perform Taarab songs, but went way beyond the agreement. In fact, we expect the county government to take action against them,” LCPG chair Ghalib Alwy said.
Acting Lamu Trade executive Fahima Arafat said what happened at Mkunguni wasn’t intentional.
“We are equally disgusted and disappointed by what The Offside Trick group did. People shouldn’t think we planned for this to happen. That wasn’t part of the agreement we had with them,” Fahima said.
The Star/ Praxides Cheti