One of the key highlights of the 2019 county cultural festivals was the performance of Kapkonga dancers soloist, master Eisteen Kibet.
Spectators and judges at the County finals held in Iten were impressed by his performance on stage, but few knew that he was a school drop out after his parents could not afford to pay his school fees.
When this message got to H.E Governor Alex Tolgos who was present, he immediately ordered that his fees be paid by the County. Just like that, Kibet’s performance secured him full educational scholarship.
This is just but a tip of what our amazing culture can achieve. It is for reasons such as Kibet’s that the County has been promoting culture to tap the talent that lies in communities living in Elgeyo Marakwet.
Since 2013, the County has been organizing ward cultural events culminating in County competitions at the County headquarters. These events showcase cultural talents existing in the County and preserves our rich cultural practices.
“The groups are given monetary reward and these resources go directly to our people. Besides, these cultural events have won us accolades at the national level,” said Tourism, Trade and Culture CEC Shadrach Yatich.
The County has sponsored cultural troupes to perform in regional and national events where they emerged among the top. This resulted in the County receiving an eco-warrior award at a ceremony held in 2018 organized by the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) in Nairobi.
“The County is now in the process of developing two cultural museums in Sambirir and Soy North wards. These facilities will link tourists with our rich culture,” added the CEC.
The tourism sector is however yet to be fully tapped despite its immense potential due to limited allocation it gets from Equitable Development Act (EDA) funds.
For instance, Rimoi National Reserve which was opened in March 2016 is yet to be fully exploited due to lack of supporting facilities such as lodges within the park.
Nonetheless, the County has continued to use the available resources and sought partnerships to position the County as a top tourist destination in Kenya and globally especially in sports and culture tourism.
The County has promoted camping sites such as excursion activities at Chebara dam, Kiplachoch caves, Kessup hills, Mureto campsite, Koisungur hills and Lolgarini dam. All the 42 tourist attraction sites have been mapped out.
“At Rimoi, the County is seeking private investors to put up eco-lodges to attract visitors who wish to spend the night there and we have already come up with a public private partnership concept on the same,” said Yatich.
In Trade, the County established several market stalls with modern toilet facilities across the wards to improve small scale enterprises. However, there is lack of land to put up more new markets.
“We are also enforcing fair trade in the County, particularly weeding out middlemen who exploit our farmers. This ensures they get value for produce that they sell. A good example is the 50kg potato sacks which has now been popularly called Tolgos,” said the CEC.
The County further supported the opening of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry chapter in Elgeyo Marakwet to help position the County as an investment hub for local and foreign investors.