Riziki is all dressed up for the annual Lamu cultural week that sees everyone around the world come to the island to celebrate Lamu’s tradition and heritage. She is more excited about this year’s celebrations because it is like a jubilee to her.
“This is the tenth time I am celebrating the cultural events.” She smiles as the blush on her slim face reveals some hidden dimples.
She remembers like yesterday how it was ten years earlier when she first came to Lamu and experienced the cultural celebrations.
“I remember I had just come from Mombasa and all this was quite new to me.” She laughs to reveal a golden tooth on her upper jawbone.
She says not so many people valued the events then as they do now.
“Right now people come from as far as Nairobi and the Middle East to celebrate with us our Swahili culture and that makes us so happy.”
The Al shabaab attacks that happened in Lamu in 2012 severely affected the economy of the small island; the cultural week wasn’t left behind.
“It wasn’t a celebration because there were no people to celebrate with us. It looked like a ghost town the whole week.” Riziki says sadly.
The children are all around running up and down. The girls are in their beautiful dresses with their cute small bags. Not even the new outfits that they are donning can keep the boys from dashing around like little rockets.
Riziki glances at a wall clock and announces to her chubby 7 year old son that it is getting late.
“Come on Hassan, it is late daddy, please go home and sleep I will come home late on.”
‘Daddy’ bites his lower lip and makes a defiant grunt, unwilling to stop playing when the game is just getting into high gear.
But his mum remains adamant.
“Hey, I want you to go home because I want to go for the women cultural side and enjoy my Taarab songs with my age mates. Come on get up and go home with your cousin Mohammed.”
The boy knows that his mum now means business; he gets up with a withdrawn face and goes on his way with his teenaged cousin.
A friend of his mother makes a lame attempt to defend the young boy.
“That was unfair my friend. Its only 9pm and most of his friends are still here.”
Riziki isn’t moved, she looks away to give a sign that she wanted to give the matter a rest but opens it up again.
“He has been having fun the whole day watching the swimming competitions and the donkey rides. Don’t forget the traditional dances by the Pokomos, Bajuni and the Zamuni dance performed by the young Muslim boys. He had a lot in his plate already.”
Her friend’s silence is an indication that she agrees with her completely. Riziki still feels her point isn’t driven home.
“Okay, tomorrow is another day; he will be the first one to arrive here for the dhow race.” She concludes with a face that clearly says ‘if that’s not good enough, then I don’t know what is.’