SPEECH BY THE CABINET SECRETARY FOR SPORTS, CULTURE AND HERITAGE HON. AMB. (DR) AMINA C. MOHAMED, EGH, AV DURING THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE RUSINGA CULTURAL FESTIVAL, 19 TH DECEMBER, 2019.
Your Excellencies Ambassadors,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Members of County Assembly,
The Festival Organizers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to join you all for the official opening of this year’s Rusinga Cultural Festival. Cultural Festivals, as we all appreciate, provide a platform for showcasing, promoting and preserving our cultural heritage. This also applies to this 2019 edition of Rusinga Cultural Festival, which is organized around the theme “Island Remembers.”
This is a timely theme considering, as we are all aware, that the Suba culture has been increasingly under threat, with the Olusuba language, for example, is listed in The Red Book of Endangered Languages by UNESCO.
This festival is, therefore, a great opportunity to call to mind and celebrate the rich, diverse and unique cultural heritage of Rusinga Island. It is also an opportunity to engage in dialogue towards preserving, promoting and appreciating the Suba culture.
Equally important, this festival is an occasion for us to reflect on how aspects of this culture – including music, dance, attire, crafts, and other cultural expressions – can be exploited to enrich the lives of the people of Rusinga and our country as a whole.
I, therefore, thank the Department of Culture and all those who have been involved in the organization of this festival. I am confident this festival will mark an important step towards the preservation and promotion of the cultural heritage of this Island.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A lot of research has been undertaken to document the Suba culture and language. Moreover, and as you may be aware, the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage is in the process of preparing a National Language Policy.
This policy will give guidelines on language promotion management in the country. Towards this end, we are ready to work with communities, including the Abasuba communities, to promote languages that are at risk of extinction.
Besides preserving aspects of our culture, the Ministry is also working to help communities harness the potential of culture for development. Cultural festivals are in this regard avenues through which cultural expressions can be developed and showcased for commercialization.
This festival, for instance, can be used to promote tourism in this region considering that the Mfangano-Rusinga Island Complex is in the World Heritage tentative list awaiting inscription by UNESCO. This festival, therefore, has the potential to be the biggest cultural event in the region, welcoming thousands of attendees from across the country and beyond.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we celebrate the 8th edition of this festival, it is important to emphasize that the founding principal of cultural festivals still remains – that is, bridging the gap between cultures as a prerequisite for peace, stability and development.
This festival is, therefore, also envisaged as an avenue for enabling different communities to interact with the culture of the Abasuba people in a manner that will create deeper understanding, appreciation and accommodation of each other. In this way, the festival will help strengthen the sense of identity of the Abasuba communities while at the same time contributing to the enhancement of national cohesion, peace and stability.
In appreciation of this critical role of culture in society, the Ministry is working to provide an enabling environment for the growth of the cultural sector. We are seeking to do this through the National Policy on Culture. We will continue to support the creative sector to the fullest extent possible with a view to ensuring that our artists and cultural practitioners are empowered and benefit from their trade.
We are also focused on supporting those aspects of culture that will advance the “Big Four Agenda.” We are, for example, actively promoting traditional foods and building materials, encouraging the production and sale of crafts and other forms of visual arts as well as promoting traditional medical practices.
As part of this effort, I appeal to all of us to take part in the cultural activities of our respective communities and uphold positive traditional values, customs and practices. As we do so, we should also ensure that our children and grandchildren are also adequately socialized in our cultures for purposes of effective transmission to future generations.
In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, I once again thank the organizers of this event and all stakeholders who have extended support in one way or another. Let us all work together to promote and enjoy our rich cultural heritage and capitalize on its potential to promote economic development and enhance national cohesion.
I now have the pleasure and honour to declare the 8th Rusinga Cultural Festival officially open.
I Wish All of You Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Thank you and God bless you all