t will be a blend of culture and diversity when an estimated 140,000 participants drawn from education institutions across Kenya and the neighbouring countries converge in Kakamega county this week to showcase their talent and battle for honours at this year’s annual music festival.
This 91st edition of the Kenya National Music Festival starts today and ends on July 22 at Masinde Muliro University. Central Bank of Kenya is the title sponsor and has put in Sh25 million facilitate the event.
The festival has attracted learners from early childhood development, primary and secondary schools, middle level and vocational colleges and universities. This year’s theme is Enhancing National Unity, Cohesion and Integration through Kenya Music Festival.
Participants are expected to preach national unity, cohesion and integration in their presentations as the country prepares for a General Election on August 8. The annual event in the education calendar is returning to the second largest county in the country after an eight-year wait. And this time round, it has attracted participants from across the borders and India.
“We expect to host some 140,000 participants spread from early childhood development class to the university over the next 10 days,” Western region education coordinator Nereah Olick told Scholar.
She said participants from Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and from India have lined up presentations. The fete rolls off this morning, one month ahead of the traditional August holiday schedule.
The Education ministry had brought the entire schools co-curricular programme forward to avoid the inconveniences that could come with the August 8 General Election.
The association’s National chairman Kahi Indimuli says they expect thousands of students, teachers and other guests in Kakamega town. More than 30 schools in Vihiga and Kakamega will offer accommodation to the participants. “We are ready to hold the festival,” he said.
The participating choirs are champions in their own right, selected after a rigorous exercise that span from local zones to the regional/provincial finals. “The finalists constitute the crème de la crème of this years music performers,” Indimuli said.
Students from 36 boarding primary and secondary schools in Kakamega and Vihiga counties have proceeded for a long half-term break to give room to accommodate the expected visitors.
“MMUST, the main venue of the festival, will host the village health centre as well as provide accommodation facilities to participants from universities,” Olick said, noting that the facility will be manned by two doctors, four clinicians and 10 nurses.
Kakamega School, Ingotse, Shikoti, Malava Girls and Boys, Kivaywa, Mukumu Boys and Girls, Mukumu Primary, Liranda, Eregi, Mumias Boys and Girls primaries and St Peters and St Mary’s Mumias Secondary, School the Death and Butere Girls in Kakamega county are some of the selected games villages.
In Vihiga county, the schools include Kaimosi Girls and Boys, Chavakali High, Vihiga High, Keveye and Bunyore Girls, just to name a few. Business people are hopeful of doing booming business as the event kicks off.
By the weekend, hotel owners reported good bookings from the participants. Western region police commander Moses Ombati has assured the participants of total security during the festival. Ombati said enough security officers would be deployed at the venue to provide security.