The curtains on the 3rd Nairobi Cultural Festival came down yesterday evening at the Nairobi National Museum grounds and nothing from the diverse food, cultural dances and songs to the traditional attires on showcase from over 15 cultures across the world fell short of visitor expectations.

Conceived by Munira Mohammed of the Research Institute of Swahili Studies of Eastern Africa to promote the Swahili culture back in 2013 with only 9 countries participating, the event has been growing in size and richness and today’s festival was a testimony to its future potential as a platform to showcase the cultural diversity of people who call Kenya home.

Flamenco dancers from Spain performing at the Nairobi Cultural Festival

The cultural showcase oscillated from the flamboyant Spanish flamenco dance to the interesting Mexican elote dish made from boiled maize covered in cheese, mayonnaise and pepper and Nigeria’s famous pounded yams. The dazzling shemma attires from Ethiopia were available for admiration and buying.

There were lots of fun games for kids as well derived from various European, Asian and African cultural orientations. It was interesting to see how the games, despite having subtle variations, were generally the same across the continents.

Traditional dishes from Indonesia on showcase at the Nairobi Cultural Festival

This year’s theme dubbed ‘World Heritage, World Unity’, aimed to illustrate the universality of world cultures and how, despite our differences, we are all really grounded on a belief system nurtured and passed on from generation to generation called culture.

The event’s direct target is embassies residing in Kenya. These embassies in turn invite their residents living in Kenya to showcase the goods and services they offer including a showcase of that country’s dance, songs and foods.

A rather technical stick dance from the Philippines where the dancer needed to hop and skip to the rhythm of the stick without looking down and without being hit by the sticks moving inwards and outwards.

Today’s event was a success. Nairobi, once again, proved it was a cosmopolitan city where people of varied nationalities lived, earned a livelihood and kept the traditions and cultures of their origin alive through, dance, food, attire and language.

As I left the courtyard of the museum, amidst music and merry-making, I could only imagine how the 2016 event will be. I am already excited!