The Technical University of Mombasa just concluded cultural week is an annual affair meant to showcase the diversity of the institution’s members and their various cultural backgrounds. Far from encouraging negative ethnicity, the events carried out throughout the week are geared towards uniting the many communities at the university by encouraging each to learn about and understand other cultures.
The TUM Cultural Week featured various activities such as game matches, singing and dancing, as well as cooking and feasting. It was interesting to see members of different communities interacting easily. One Johnson Mwatari, a Mombasa native, says he had fun getting dressed in traditional Maasai garb, the shuka and jumping up and down like a moran.
Come Friday and there was a cultural parade of costumes, dishes and dances as they presented various aspects of their culture before a panel of judges. Members of the Luo community prepared their kuon (ugali) and rech (fish) while the Costerians made their biriani – a dish of rice made with pawpaw and thick spicy meat stew – and brewed their mnazi, the Luhyas made their obusuma (ugali) in large sufurias, obusera (porridge), ingokho, (chicken) and brewed busaa and the Kikuyus boiled everything they could and roasted a goat. Then they made mukimo, meat stew and brewed muratina. Everyone – from the Somali to the Kamba to the Mijikenda and Kisii – made their various dishes as delectable as they could.
The final day saw the students making their presentations on stage. Musicians, dancers, body builders and martial artists showed off their best moves. However, the highlight of the day was the beauty contest where fine ladies and gentlemen walked up and down the runway, to much ogling and applause. They showcased various designs including African wear, beach wear, official wear, and so on. David the Student, of the Churchill Show fame, made an appearance, sending the students into wild cheers.
Mr. Obadiah Maganga, the Dean of Students at the Technical University of Mombasa had a lot of praise for his students.
“They have shown a lot of maturity and tolerance for each other. The institution will always seek to promote and ensure appreciation of our various cultures.” he said. “Mwacha mila ni mtumwa, “he added. “Whoever deserts tradition is a slave.”
“Events like these are opportunities for people to celebrate their own as well as others’ cultures. One learns a thing or two watching all these presentations,” said Kevin Kibet, who presented a Kalenjin dance with his friends.
All in all, the TUM cultural week was a hugely successful event and proof as well as a reminder that institutions of higher learning can and should be used to promote cultural cohesion and prevent ethnic strife such as that seen in the past after elections.
By Mauko Maunde