“This is not just a cultural festival, but one that unites culture together with peace and regional development," said Leslie Mitchell, Pact's Kenya country director. "Such initiatives need to be built upon, and with the support of the EU Cross-Border Programme, which is financed by the EUTF, and the respective governments in the region, communities have begun to build trust and collaboration between the vast cross-border communities."
The cultural festival "Tobong’u Lore", which means "welcome home," was held Aug. 14-17 at a local cultural center in Lodwar, Turkana. The four-day event attracted thousands of local and international participants, including Kenya's deputy president, William Ruto, and Raila Odinga, former prime minister of Kenya and currently the high representative for infrastructure development in Africa, as well as the Ethiopian ambassador to Kenya, Meles Alem. The festival’s primary objective was to give Turkana and neighboring cross-border communities a platform for celebrating their unique cultural heritage and an opportunity to interrelate and network on behalf of peace, development and regional cohesion.
Culture is a perfect means of positive communication and trust building, as most conflicts revolving around turkana county are resource-based, " said pacts regional team lead for seek, yussuf mohamed abdullahi. Seek adopts a conflict systems based approach to address the multiple causes of conflict in cross-border areas and to promote peace building, conflict management and conflict resolution capacity at the community and cross-border levels. It is part of the EU's programme for Collaboration in the Cross-border Areas of the Horn of Africa, financed by the EUTF, working to prevent and mitigate the impact of local conflict and to promote economic development and greater resilience in four different cross-border regions.
Since peace is a pre-requisite for any development, it needs to be sustained and supported by other pillars of development, " the eu delegations head of cooperation and acting EU Ambassador, Hubert Perr said, "and this is the reason why EU's investment along the cross-border areas of Kenya and Ethiopia are mainly focused around three key areas that build upon one another: peace, resilience and inter-governmental coordination. Celebrating culture provides needed tourism revenue to the Turkana County government, but at the same time, its a platform of integration and building peace among conflicting communities as evidenced in this event".
The Tobongu Lore event was the fifth annual cultural festival. Such festivals are one of many tools used to build peaceful and cohesive regional collaboration to foster favorable conditions for investments and sustainable economic development.
With support from the EUTF, Pact is keen to continue working with the Turkana County government as they plan to implement a culture-driven development program focusing on three sectors: cultural and creative Industries, peace and cross-border initiatives, and aquaculture infrastructure.
During the event, Pact and senior Turkana County officials held an inter-governmental meeting to discuss successes, challenges and emerging issues related to cross-border security. Outcomes of the meeting included the establishment of six resolutions between Ethiopia and Kenya regarding peace, security and regional cooperation. SEEK will work with communities, respective governments and the EU to ensure implementation of the agreements.
- Publication date
- 28 August 2019
- Region and Country
- Improved governance and conflict prevention