• Asean promotes socio-cultural integration, intergovernmental cooperation and economic, political security, military and education ties
• Each of the four Asean countries had a stand where they demonstrated live cooking of their different cuisines
Asean countries last Sunday hosted their fourth festival, where they showcased their food, clothing, dances and accessories at Village Market, Nairobi.
The countries represented were Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia.
Asean is an international organisation comprising Southeast Asian countries, which promotes socio-cultural integration, intergovernmental cooperation and economic, political security, military and education ties amongst its members and other Asian states.
Each of the four countries had a stand where they demonstrated live cooking of their different cuisines. For instance, Malaysians had nasi lemak, a national fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. Toppings such as fried fish, anchovies, sliced cucumber, a hard-boiled egg and cut into two, water spinach and crispy peanuts are added. It is normally for breakfast.
Indonesians had satay, or sate, popularly known in Kenya as mshikaki and bakso. It is seasoned, skewered and grilled meat, served with a sauce. Like Kenya, it is also a popular street food in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei.
The Philippines also showcased hand-woven handbags and beach hats and their national dress, barong, as well, while the Malaysians had their traditional dresses and the sampin. The male attire is hand-woven fabric, which is worn at either the waist or the hips.
There were exotic dances from the Philippines, angklung musical performance of Malaika and Kenya Hakuna Matata and the traditional Muay Thai war dance.
Two lucky raffle ticket winners won a trip to Indonesia and the Philippines, while others won different goodies.
The Asean festival, an annual event hosted by the respective countries in alphabetical order, is a deliberate effort by the Asian countries to promote their people-to-people relations and tourism through cultural diplomacy.
“This is our way of giving the people of Nairobi a chance to glimpse our vibrant Southeast Asian cultures in the comfort of your home country and perhaps awaken their desire for adventure to travel and experience first-hand the sights, tastes and sounds of ASEAN,” Philippines Ambassador Alex G Chua said on Sunday.
“We can already see it because of the increase in flights between the Philippines and Kenya, as more and more airlines, such as Oman Air, fly into and from Nairobi and Manila. I am aware that there has been an upsurge in Filipino Tour Groups enjoying the touristic attraction in Kenya.”
Ambassador Chua noted there is a burgeoning awareness of Africa and its culture in his country.
He said there is a Ms Africa-Philippines beauty contest, where contestants of Filipino and African descent shared with Philippines’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs their thoughts on how to deepen engagement with Africa.
“Our Department of Foreign Affairs has begun its “Wakanda” series of lectures and events, which raise awareness about the vast African continent. I trust that this reawakened attention for Africa will manifest soon not only in Kenya but also the whole of East Africa,” he said.
“I was so happy to see Filipino telenovelas being aired in Kenyan prime-time television.”
To further enhance these ties, the envoy challenged Kenya to open a mission in Manila.
“The Philippines truly believes there is no substitute for actual physical presence in a country to promote its interest. That is why the Philippines established the Embassy in Nairobi in 1975. We would be delighted if Kenya would open an Embassy in the Philippines, as it will provide them the opportunity to explore, promote and foster potential areas of cooperation and collaboration for the mutual benefit of Kenya and the Philippines,” he said.