As the year comes to an end, people from around the world look forward to the holiday season and the brand new year. However, Kenyans have another thing to look forward to towards the end of the year and that is the ever so amazing Rusinga Festival.
This magnificent event is only magnified by the efforts of locals and the result is an experience unlike any other. If you’re meaning to visit Kenya, this may be the reason to encourage you further. This once a year event is enough reason alone to step foot in this beautiful country. Add to that the various delicacies that you can try plus the friendly locals that you can meet, it’s a no brainer that Kenya should be your next vacation destination!
To help you give a better idea of what you can expect with this festival, we have compiled some of the things that you must know about it. If you’re curious to learn more, keep on reading here at Rusinga Festival.
What is the Rusinga Festival?
At the end of every year, thousands of locals gather around to celebrate the Rusinga Festival. The event is held during the last Thursday and Friday before Christmas in December and it takes place at the titular Rusinga Island.
The two-day event revolves around the goal of preserving the culture of the Abasuba people. This Bantu group resides on Lake Victoria, Mfangano island and of the venue of the vent itself, the island of Rusinga.
Who are the Abasuba?
The Abasuba or simply Suba is a heterogeneous tribe in Kenya whose culture is at the brink of extinction to the point where their language is classified by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as endangered.
Asabuba is just one of the 13 languages that were considered endangered by UNESCO and this festival is a great way of providing not only the language but their culture as well.
History of Rusinga Festival
The first Rusinga Festival was held back in 2012 with the principle of connecting different cultures to promote peace. It planned to achieve this by providing a platform for locals to showcase their culture in fashion, food and more.
Fast forward to 9 years later, the festival is now considered the biggest event in all of western Kenya. It grew so successful that even people from different countries flock to the island just to witness this magnificent event.
What can you expect from the festival?
Once you partake in the Rusinga Festival, you’ll certainly never experience a dull time as the event is filled with events and showcases that won’t only make your jaw drop but your tummies satisfied as well. This is because the festival is two days of non-stop music, food, fashion and more. All of which focuses on the beautiful culture of Abasuba and Kenya as a whole.
To give you a better idea, here are some of the things that you can expect from the Rusinga Festival:
There’s no better way to taste the cuisine of Kenya than in the Rusinga Festival. During this magnificent event, locals will showcase the best dishes that they have to offer, whether it be deserts, main or side dishes and more.
The selection of local delicacies that you’ll encounter here is amazing and all of them offer a unique flavour, texture and overall dining experience. If you’re unsure of which dish to try, here are some foolproof ones that you’re sure to enjoy:
Once you start roaming around the festival, you’re bound to find Ugali being served by several locals. This is because it’s a staple dish in Kenyan cuisine and it’s usually served to accompany various main dishes.
Ugali is simply a cornmeal-based dish that is boiled to form a paste-y structure. It’s not the fanciest dish in terms of looks but it has a flavourful taste and some meals won’t be complete without this accompaniment.
Irio is one of the most famous dishes in Kenya which is why you can expect to see it at the Rusinga Festival. This dish may seem familiar to westerners as it shares similarities with mashed potatoes and it makes sense considering that the dish consists of mashed peas and potatoes.
Similar to ugali, this dish serves an important role in the cuisine as it serves as an accompaniment for other main course meals. Without it, some dishes wouldn’t taste and feel complete.
If you want an entry-level dish that your tastebuds may be familiar with, you can always try the Nyama Choma. This dish is made up of roasted beef or goat meat and it’s roasted to perfection making it a meat lover’s delight.
There’s also other variations of this dish for people who don’t want to eat beef or goat meat. These are:
- Kuku choma – Chicken-based version
- Samaki choma – Fish-based version.
The people of Kenya also has an interesting taste when it comes to their fashion. However, their clothes aren’t just for fashion sense but it’s also deeply rooted in their roots, particularly, their tribes. Every tribe in Kenya has their distinct dress, cloth and style. Here are some of the most famous ones that you’ll see when you visit the Rusinga Festival:
The clothing worn by the Masai tribe is one of the most common ones that you’ll see throughout Kenya. This is because it’s considered as the country’s national attire and you’ll see it being worn by almost everyone not just people from the Masai tribe.
You’ll see this dress from a mile away thanks to its vibrant red colour and eye-popping patterns. Aside from the dress themselves, this outfit is completed by wearing accessories such as bracelets, necklaces and headdresses.
As for men, they wear a classic Masai blanket called Shuka and they bring a ball-ended curved club made out of wood.
Kitenge is one of the most common fabrics used to create different clothes in Kenya. It’s made of cotton and it’s coloured and embroidered to create the finished product. The method used to colour this fabric is the tie and dye technique which involves scrunching the cloth and applying different coloured dyes.
Locals use Kitenge in their everyday lives and not just in special events. Also, it’s not just popular in Kenya but the entire continent of Africa as well.
Khanga is a piece of cloth that’s designed with inscriptions of Kenyan sayings. It spans 1.5×1 metres is worn across the torso by women. The sayings that make up the pattern of this cloth is either written in English or Swahili.
As you bask in the ambience of the festival, you’ll hear numerous songs and pieces of music that are originally composed and performed by Kenyan locals. Whether you’re engaging in one of the activities or you’re indulging yourself in the island’s local delicacies, you’ll surely feel at home with the Kenyan music playing in the background.
Aside from serving as background music, you can also watch live Kenyan music played before your eyes through the performances and talent showcases during the festival. The types of music that are usually played in this event are either traditional or contemporary. Regardless of which you end up listening to, your ears will be delighted.
The main purpose of the festival is to celebrate and appreciate culture. This is why you’ll see different things that perfectly captures the culture of the different tribes displayed in all their glory.
Included here are the music, food, etc, but what most people forget is that there are also works of art in the festival such as woodwork, clay work and other sculptures. All of the works made by the Kenyan locals are aimed to help preserve Abasuba culture.
A fun and exciting festival wouldn’t be complete without sports. These sets of friendly competitions are sure to provide excitement and liven up the crowd while also giving athletes a platform where they can showcase their talents.
The sports that are featured during this festival include wrestling, boat racing, and more. What’s great about these sports is that they are also available for women. This means that there’s a separate competition for both genders allowing everyone to join the different games held at the event.
Additionally, there are also smaller and less strenuous sports that the elderly or children can partake in like board games.
Head to the Rusinga Festival now!
Now that you’ve learned the important things regarding the Rusinga Festival, it’s time for you to experience it first-hand! Trust us, there won’t be a single dull moment in this event filled with activities, local dishes, friendly locals and more. You’ll thank yourself for making this decision. What are you waiting for? Head to Kenya and experience one of the most amazing festivals in the world!