Lamu county government commences plans to protect Lamu heritage

A street in UNESCO listed Lamu old town. PHOTO/ FILE.

Lamu,KENYA:The county government of Lamu has commenced plans to formulate strategies that will help preserve the culture and heritage of the old town from being wiped out by external and western influences.

The focus is to ensure the upcoming mega projects in the county don’t affect Lamu’s heritage and culture.

The plans are being strategized by the department of Tourism with the CEC Dismas Mwasambu in charge.

Speaking in his office on Friday,Mwasambu said at least 1.5 Million will be coming into Lamu to work in the various mega projects including the Sh.2.5 trillion LAPSSET corridor one and the Sh.200 Billion coal plant project once they operationalize.

Mwasambu said the county has so far formed a team of experts comprising of county officials, representatives from the LAPSSET board and the National Museums of Kenya-NMK who have been mandated with formulating clear and stringent regulations that will protect Lamu’s heritage from all the external influence expected with the employability of such a high number of people from vast backgrounds.

The team has also been tasked with moving around the entire county to create awareness and reinforce the need and means for locals to preserve and be proud of their heritage.

“We are racing against time so that we have proper regulations in place by the time all these projects are up and running.There is going to be a massive influx of people from all walks of life coming to Lamu.We need some sort of guard to protect against foreign influence that can easily seep in and do injustice to the heritage here,”said Mwasambu.

Lamu was enlisted by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 2001 but risks losing heritage status owing to too much western influence.

The narrow alleyways in the old town only allow for movement by foot or on donkeys.

However Lamu town at the moment is a total contrast of the traditional town it was known for and is now flooded with motorcycles and vehicles.

There is also an increased number of stores, stalls and shops along the sea front,a direct contravention of the UNESCO town requirements.

All these and a myriad others are threatening to have Lamu old town delisted by UNESCO if interventions aren’t made to stop the western trends from penetrating further into the back born of the old town.

Lamu’s well kept heritage and culture continues to be the region’s biggest tourist attraction and the CEC says there is need for the situation to be even better when mega projects in the region commence their operations.

Mwasambu also says the county plans to invest more in the annual festivals in Lamu which he said have successfully sold the region heritage and culture to the whole world.

“The plan at the bottom line is to cushion Lamu against any external influence that could be damaging especially to the culture and way of life of people here.If we are having millions expected to come in pursuit of the projects,that equally means the cultural challenge will be a huge task that we must overcome,”added Mwasambu.

Recently, the county also announced plans to set up a Sh.6 Million cultural centre at Mokowe on the mainland before the end of this year.