• PS says country wants to shift from depending on the international tourism to local by recognising several other national heritages to keep the sector vibrant.
• Elders-to-be aged below 25 wore traditional attires known as 'Handos’ to symbolise the passage of culture from elders to the next generation.
The national government on Wednesday used the Chenda Chenda ceremony in Kwale county to promote agro-tourism.
Principal Secretaries Safina Kwekwe (Tourism), Josephta Mukobe (Culture) and Fred Segor (Wildlife) chaired the event.
It incorporated the Mijikenda Kaya elders from Tana River, Lamu, Kwale, Taita Taveta and Kilifi to appreciate the diversity and unity of the coastal people.
The Shimba Hills National Reserve was chosen for the occasion.
The Shimba forest is said to be an icon of the Kwale communities because great Kayas and major rituals were once held in it.
It is also the largest coastal forest in East Africa and home to many species of trees and animals including the rare sable antelopes.
Kwekwe said the ceremony was meant to identify various tourist attraction sites to boost local tourism in Kenya.
"We are here to showcase our traditions as well as coordinating various cultures and activities to magnify the tourism economy, " she said.
She said the country wants to shift from depending on the international tourism to local by recognising several other national heritages to keep the sector vibrant.
The Kayas, she said, are among them.
Last month, Kwekwe said the government intends to make use of cultural heritage, sports, agriculture and the blue economy to grow the tourism industry.
Currently, the sector has lost more than Sh81 billion after it was largely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The PS said they aim at delivering tourism services as a complete package by combining various historical monuments.
Segor said there is a need for the three ministries to work together to help the locals improve their income and livelihoods through tourism.
The Chenda Chenda festival is celebrated every September 9. Last year, it was marked in Ukunda showground.
Usually, elders from the nine Mijikenda tribes would meet to perform special prayers to appease the gods and teach the young people different cultures.
The Mijikenda comprises the Giriama, Rabai, Ribe, Kauma, Digo, Chonyi, Kambe, Duruma and Jibana.
However, this year, the event was marked with no traditional drums and song due to Covid-19.
Elders-to-be aged below 25 wore traditional attires known as 'Handos’ to symbolise the passage of culture from elders to the next generation.
The event was followed by tree planting exercise where over 210 trees were planted at Kwale Baraza park.
Edited by R.Wamochie