Cultural festivals have become a prominent topic of research because of their socio-economic value. However, thus far, limited research has been conducted on the more profound issue of the possible contribution of festivals towards constructing a cultural identity. The aim of this study was therefore to determine the role that one particular festival, the Lamu Cultural Festival, plays in constructing cultural identity, particularly when people from different cultural backgrounds are involved. Lamu in Kenya was chosen as the study area, due to its rich and unique cultural heritage, with the main aim of investigating whether the Lamu Cultural Festival is helping to preserve the cultural heritage of this area and/or to create a new Lamu identity. An anthropological approach was used to conduct the study on cultural identity. The research was conducted on the 14th annual Cultural Festival in Lamu, where the festival has taken place since 2001, after the Island was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best way to understand another culture is to experience it first-hand by travelling to the destination, hence the use of participant observation for data collection. The dissertation looks at various debates regarding identity construction through cultural festivals. It also investigates the development of festival literature, festival tourism and the history of festivals. Cultural practices among the Aweer, the Bajuni, the Sanye and the Orma in Lamu, and these people's sense of cultural identity before the introduction of the Lamu Cultural Festival are also assessed, in order to understand the respective senses of cultural identity of these four indigenous groups involved in the festival. The Lamu Cultural Festival itself is also discussed in detail: the planning process, stakeholders and organisers, people's motivations for participating in the festival, festival items and their composition. The research findings may assist festival organisers in achieving a better understanding of the importance of involving indigenous communities in the planning process and possibly in achieving a Lamu identity over time.
Dissertation (MHCS)--University of Pretoria, 2017.