First international Maasai festival planned in Kenya – keeping East African language culture alive – valuing indigenous knowledge in southern Africa
Frankfurt, 19. June 2023. Kenya is planning the first international Maasai festival in the country this year. It is to take place in August at the time of the Great Migration of Wild Animals in the Masai Mara. In other regions of Africa, cultural traditions are also finding more and more space in the tourist portfolio. Local ethnicities tell their story anew and thus enrich the classic offer around safari tourism.
According to the Kenyan Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Cultural Heritage, the one-week international Massai festival should not only offer cultural activities of the Maasai but also tourist partners space to present their services and products directly on site at one of the most important tourist attractions in the country.
Cultural mountain bike tours in Karamoja, Uganda (c) Theo Vos/Kara-Tunga Tours
In addition, conservationists and scientists from all over the world are given the opportunity to exchange views on species conservation in the Masai Mara National Park. The exact date of the event will be announced.
Kenya has a great cultural diversity with almost 50 different ethnic groups. The Maasai culture is the most famous in the world and, as in neighboring Tanzania, plays the biggest role in the country’s ethnotourism.
Tourism as a socio-economic opportunity for indigenous minorities in East Africa
Shepherd in the Karamoja region in northeastern Uganda (c) Theo Vos
The non-profit Kara-Tunga Foundation in Karamoja in northeastern Uganda is concerned with the preservation of the cultural heritage of minorities and nature conservation. The region is inhabited by a great variety of people, including the semi-nomadic Karamojong welters and former hunter-gatherers named Ik. After decades of armed conflict, the region was considered tourist depreciated until Kara-Tunga Tours established ecotourism here in 2016 as an instrument for sustainable development.
„Green tourism gives people new perspectives. Socio-economic opportunities are created to preserve the region’s rapidly disappearing cultural heritage and natural biodiversity,“ explains Ugandan-Dutch social entrepreneur Theo Vos, CEO of Kara-Tunga Tours and Foundation.
The tourist activities such as guided nature hikes and mountain bike tours enable an enriching cultural exchange, even across national borders to Ethiopia, South Sudan and Kenya, framed by picturesque landscapes. Through the proceeds, the Kara-Tunga Foundation can train tourist guides, restore protected areas and document valuable oral traditions of the different cultural groups.Indigenes Wissen im Südlichen Afrika bewahren
! Khwa ttu San Museum in Yzerfontein on the west coast of South Africa (c) Karin Schermbrucker
An estimated 130,000 San live today across several countries in Southern Africa. The San are among the last hunter-gatherer societies in the world. Their culture has been subjected to considerable oppression in history, but now there are community-based initiatives that recount the history of the San and revive the cultural heritage.
That’s how he sits down !Khwa ttu Heritage Centre in Yzerfontein on the west coast of South Africa for the dynamic preservation of indigenous knowledge and supports young San through educational measures to connect the traditions of their ancestors with everyday life.
Members of the San Community lead through the exhibition of the !Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre (c) Karin Schermbrucker
Through responsible tourism, including guided tours, cultural activities and accommodation in guest houses, the San share their traditional knowledge with visitors and tell their own story. This contributes to the appreciation of their culture and creates financial independence.
!Khwa tuu San-Guide shares indigenous knowledge with visitors (c) Karin Schermbrucker
„Community-based tourism can make an important contribution to the preservation of cultural heritage in African destinations,“ explains Hanna Kleber, initiator of Voice4Africa. „Authentic encounters contribute to international understanding and the income from tourist activities largely flows directly to the local communities.“
VOICE4AFRICA is an initiative of the KLEBER GROUP, a full-service PR agency with a special focus on tourism and many years of expertise in Africa. Together with African tour operators, the initiative promotes responsible tourism to Africa as a means of international understanding and a driver for sustainable development. Voice4Africa is the winner of the Corps Touristique Award for International Understanding 2023.
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Photo: Massai-Kultur in Tansania und Kenia (c) Voice4Africa