The south-eastern coast of Lake Turkana turns into a meeting place for diverse Kenyan ethnic groups every year. The name of the lake can be translated as "a place of many trees" and therefore, the symbolism of the festival grows even more

The Marsabit- Lake Turkana Festival is a conglomerate of 14 communities that form the bulk of the larger Marsabit County’s populace. The festival was proposed by the local communities who reside on the Eastern shores of Lake Turkana in Marsabit County. It was initiated in the year 2008 and has since been an annual event.

The event features unique performances and cultural traditions of 14 ethnic communities which live in Marsabit County: El Molo, Rendille, Samburu, Turkana, Dassanatch, Gabra, Borana, Konso, Sakuye, Garee, Waata, Burji, and Somali. The presentation of the customs and living conditions of the fourteen tribes, their spectacular traditional costumes, arts and crafts, dances and music is a unique and fascinating experience – in particular in light of the stunning geographical characteristics and the limited general knowledge about the Lake Turkana and Marsabit County.

At first glance, this sounds like a light culture entertainment programme but the three days event will serve a deeper purpose in the region. The Marsabit-Lake Turkana Cultural Festival gives all the communities in Marsabit County an opportunity for the cross-cultural interaction, harmony, cohesion, integration, cooperation, and trading. The underlying main goal, therefore, has been and continues to be, promotion of peace and reconciliation.

Being home to 14 ethnic communities with unique and diverse cultural practices, Marsabit is the county with the most diverse, unique and original cultural elements spread among its many communities. The event will feature unique performances and demonstrations of the 14 ethnic communities, which live in Lake Turkana, Chalbi desert, Mount Marsabit and Moyale Escarpments notably:

  1. The Gabra a nomadic camel-keeping ethnic group, residing in the north-western part of the County, bordering the Lake Turkana on the east.
  2. The Borana the largest cattle-keeping community spread across Moyale, Isiolo and Marsabit Mountain.
  3. The El Molo a near extinct ethnic group living in El-Molo Bay on the banks of Lake Turkana.
  4. The Rendille which also means the holders of the stick of God. This is a Cushitic community living across Kaisut desert.
  5. The Samburu ethnic Nilotic people who are undisputedly cousins to the Maasai, the face of tourism in Kenya.
  6. The Turkana the 3rd largest pastoralist group after the Maasai and Samburu. They live around Lake Turkana and the Omo Valley.
  7. The Dasanech one of the ancient tribes of Africa, the Dasanech are also known as the crocodile hunters of the night.
  8. The Konso a Cushitic ethnic group spread across Marsabit County and rich in steaming cultural practices.
  9. The Sakuye they are smallest of Oromo speaking people, a semi-nomadic group of pastoralists sharing a tradition with Rendille, Gabbra, and Somali.
  10. The Waata also known as Sanye, they are a hunter-gatherer community whose wealth of unique cultural tradition is felt across Kenya. They are also found in Arabuko Sokoke forest.
  11. The Burji ancient agriculturalists who introduced this mainstay to the pastoralists of northern Kenya, particularly within Marsabit county.
  12. The Gurreh this is a unique ethnic group which is mostly Islamized, related to the Somali and practice both agriculture and pastoralism.

The Somali — probably the largest Cushitic group but a minority in Marsabit county, they are mostly Islamized.

 Marsabit-Lake Turkana Festival Video