Over 20,000 people expected for Maulid Festival in Lamu

Pilgrims during the 2016 Lamu Maulid Festival. PHOTO: COURTESY.

Lamu, KENYA: Lamu old town is this year expected to host over 20,000 Muslim pilgrims from around the world for this year’s Maulid Festival.

The festival kicks off on Tuesday, December 12 to Friday 15.

The festival’s organizing secretary Idarus Muhsin said visitors from around the world have been flocking the town in time for the festival.

Speaking in Lamu on Monday, Muhsin said all was set for the festival.

He said Muslim faithful from various Islands of Lamu County including Faza, Kizingitini, Ndau, Tchundwa, Matondoni, Kipungani, Kiwayu and other places of the archipelago have already begun flocking Lamu old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site to mark the event.

Guests from other counties including Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and other countries including Tanzania, Yemen, Omani, Comoros Islands, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Middle East and even the United Kingdom (UK) are also expected to attend this year’s Lamu Maulid Festival.

“We are good to go for this year’s Maulid.We are expecting between 15,000 to 20,000 visitors.We shall also be hosting visitors from Tanzania, Comoros Island, Yemen and others,” said Muhsin.

Maulid Festival Coordinator Sheikh Mohamed Khitamy of the Riyadha Mosque said the festival was the 130th since its introduction in Lamu.

“We shall be hosting international and local pilgrims and we are glad.All are welcome,” said Khitamy.

Meanwhile, Lamu county commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo has assured all those coming for the festival of adequate security.

He said security has been beefed up to ensure the festival proceeds smoothly.

He said all vehicles coming and leaving Lamu during the festival will undergo intense police checks on the road just to ensure no suspicious persons or commodities come into or leave Lamu.

“We have deployed enough security here on the Island and all over the county. All visitors and Lamu people attending the Maulid festival should rest assured that their security is guaranteed. We have also added more officers on our roads, and at sea to ensure we don’t have any reason to worry,” said Kitiyo.

He, however, asked residents and visitors attending the event to be vigilant and keep an eye out for any suspicious person or activity during the festival and have the same reported to the police as soon as possible to allow for prompt interventions by police.

The Maulid festival is marked annually by a section of Muslims in remembrance of the birth of prophet Mohamed (S.A.W) in the holy city of Mecca in 570AD.

The festival is marked every third month of the Islamic calendar.

The Lamu Maulid Festival is one of its kind since it attracts hundreds of both domestic and international tourists who flock the Island to witness the diverse activities incorporated during the festival.

Various competitions including the famous donkey race, Jahazi and Kasa races, dhow races, poetry among others are also held during the Maulid festival.

Lamu is among the oldest towns on the East African Coast and boasts itself as among the first urban centres in the region to embrace Islam.

It has some of the oldest mosques and centres of Islamic learning in the world.