Lamu traders reap big from Maulid Festival

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

Lamu, KENYA: Traders in Lamu town reap big profits during this year’s 130th Maulid Festival that came to a close on Friday.

Hoteliers, boat operators, small traders and fishermen who spoke to Baraka FM on Friday expressed satisfaction that the Maulid festival had been successful due to the high number of tourists and visitors who attended.

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.

This year’s Maulid festival which is the 130th edition since its inception in Lamu Oldtown, will go down the books of history as the first ever to record the highest number of Muslim pilgrims both local and international who congregated in the Lamu Old town which is the county’s main Muslim hub and a tourist destination.

The traders who graced this year’s Maulid festival were drawn from all across Lamu including Mpeketoni, Faza, Hindi, Mokowe, Manda, Mkokoni and far-flung Islands.

They said the high turnout of visitors had worked to their advantage and left them with more profits than ever before.

Traders from Lamu and other neighboring counties wouldn’t miss a chance to attend the annual Maulid festival it provides a much-needed platform for them to reap bigger profits just in four days.

“This year had so many pilgrims attending the festival meaning demand for our services was more than doubled which is good for business.In four days we have made more than we could ever make in a normal month,” said Abdi Swaleh, a boat operator in Lamu town.

The Proprietor of the Bush Gardens Seafront Restaurant Ghalib Alwy said business had been good for hoteliers for the four day period of Maulid.

“The recent Lamu cultural festival opened doors for an even better Maulid Festival.There is an improvement in the hotel business.We have had a good business in terms of bookings and generally increased clientele during Maulid and we are glad,” said Alwy.

Thursday which was the climax of the festival, locals and tourists witnessed various activities ranging from traditional dancing with sumptuous performances of the Goma la Lamu and Kirumbizi dances at the Riyadha Mosque Grounds.

Other activities involved included Q’uran Kareem Memorization, Islamic Calligraphy Competition, swimming, donkey, dhow sailing among others.

The festival also gave an opportunity to more than 1000 residents and visitors to benefit from free medical camps by various organizations and Turkish experts.

Free medical services provided included checkups, medicine and medical advice and tests for various ailments including Tuberculosis, Asthma, Diabetes and High Blood pressure.

Over 100 children were also circumcised for free by international professionals mostly from Turkey.

Maulid Festival Organizing Secretary Ustadh Idarus Muhsin also said five weddings were also conducted during this year’s Maulid festival.

“This year’s Maulid festival was bountiful.We had so much going on and our people greatly benefited from all. On Thursday alone, five couples tied the knot,” said Ustadh Muhsin.

This year’s Maulid was attended by Muslim pilgrims from countries like Tanzania, Yemen, Omani, Comoros Islands, United Arab Emirates-UAE, Middle East and the United Kingdom-UK.

Lamu is among Kenya’s oldest living town and also one of the original Swahili settlements along coastal East Africa which has existed for at least a thousand years.

The town which was enlisted a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001 boats itself for having some of the oldest mosques and centers of Islamic learning in the world.

The Riyadha Mosque, which is the centre of the Maulid festival, is the longest continuously functioning and historically one of the most influential Islamic teaching institutions in the Swahili world (coastal East Africa).