The weekend has been superb. Every Tanarian including the majority of Kenyans tasted the rich cultures of Tana River people. People from different parts of Kenya flocked to Hola town to experience the first ever unique Tana River Festival which was launched by the Tana River County government. Those who were unable to travel to Hola were able to watch it live on air on local channels. Those in the diaspora also were able to stream the event live from YouTube.
The world saw the rich culture of Tana River people. Performers showcased their undisputed talents, we saw the rich and delicious Tana River cuisines, and also ancient artifacts that could only be associated with the locals.
Apart from the showcase, it was a money rush to the business community who were ready to provide services to hundreds of ‘tourists’ who braced the event. With such a successful event, some of them openly wished the event could be hosted every weekend.
The event as expected ended well and almost everyone was happy, but not all.
There were complains even before the event started. In places like Chara and Nderani majority of the groups could not make it to Hola since the event organizers required only three participants against the agreed number of the performers. This made them disappointed since it was the County Government hosting the event and was supposed to fully provide for transport.
Also, as the event closed on Saturday, some of those who performed on the event were not paid their allowances, majority of them coming from the Delta region. They complained of being sidelined by the county government yet they gave out their best in marketing the Tana River culture. They were angry that their counterparts from Hola and Bura were given their allowance but not them.
With the fiasco, the frustrated performers held a demo to the governor’s office demanding their pay. A dinner which was to be held after the event was disrupted due to the rioting crowd.
It should be known that the performers spent their time and money to make the event a success. It should also be known that the majority are youths who are trying to make it in life. They have hustled money for the event. I spoke to one of the performers who was disappointed that he used his own money to search for materials and production yet at the end of the day he gets nothing.
My take is that the County Government of Tana River should man up and hold to the end of the bargain. If they fail to pay the performers today, then I don’t expect next year the same people to return back at the same stage for another disappointment.