Languages, with their complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education and development, are of strategic importance for people and planet. Yet, due to globalization processes, they are increasingly under threat, or disappearing altogether. When languages fade, so does the world’s rich tapestry of cultural diversity. Opportunities, traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking and expression — valuable resources for ensuring a better future — are also lost. In cognizance of this, the Directorate of Culture & Libraries in collaboration with the Department of Culture, Ministry of Sports and Heritage hosted “International Mother Language Day on 21st February 2018, in Bomet Green Stadium. The event aimed at strengthening visibility and impact of Linguistic Diversity and Multilingualism for Sustainable Development.The day was marked with exhibition of Cultural artefacts, dances, songs and poetry. Each of the Sub-counties was represented by a dance group; Kaptech dances (East), Iria maina (Konoin), Sigor Kinyok (Chebalungu), Tabarit dancers (Sotik) and Lyon dancers represented Central Sub-County. Artists who have preserved the Kipsigis heritage through their works were recognised and feted with Certificates of Recognition. The Late Kipchamba Arap Tabutuk, Professor Ngeno, Taita Towett were among those feted posthumously. Others included Joel Kimetto, Bill Rutto, Elijah Soi, Chemirei and Mr Israel (Young Man). On 9th February 2018 the Directorate organised an elders meeting with a view of consulting the elders on the proposed construction of the County Museum in Bomet town. The elders were drawn from all the wards in the County. The main purpose of the meeting was to develop strategies of how to enhance cultural heritage, collect artefacts from the community and tap into the potential cultural tourism. The elders proposed the preservation of war, agricultural and livestock tools, ornaments and ornamental kipsigis dresses. They also proposed the preservation of cultural sites that carried a cultural meaning of the Kipsigis community such as Etya mungu, Motigo Hills, Kapkimolwo Longisa, Kipreres hot springs, Chelchel waterfall and Kipchabas caves. In pursuit of actualising the above, the Directorate has engaged an architectural designer to come up with a cultural design of a one stop Cultural Centre that will house the museum, tourist cottages, curio shops, homecraft centre, recording studio, hall of fame, multiple amphitheatres, picnic site and an outdoor arena. The designs below are some of the suggested plans. In liaison with the Ministry of Sports and Heritage, the Directorate is taking advantage of the bilateral invitations to other countries to showcase the rich Kipsigis Heritage and is therefore sourcing funds to facilitate artists to participate in Tunisian Festival July 2018, Cairo Festival for Contemporary Theatre September 2018, Turkey Children’s Cultural Festival March 2019 and Dubai Expo 2020.

The Governor Hon Laboso at the exhibition stand for cultural artefacts by Kipsigis Museum.

The development of this Cultural Centre and other cultural sites will transform every sector of development in Bomet. We shall use cultural tourism as a bait to attract everyone to ourselves and in the process, all other sectors must improve to contain the population and retain the attraction. Food production will increase, roads have to be passable, housing industry has to be standard, environment must be appealing, water must flow, health facilities must meet international standards, the education sector and enterprise development will certainly be the greatest beneficiaries. More investors will be attracted to invest in Bomet. This will give impetus to the improvement and upscaling of Bomet airstrip. As we know Bomet is centrally located in the tourist circuit of Maasai Mara, Lake Victoria and Lake Nakuru. The upcoming SGR coupled with the Tea tourism in addition will no doubt transform Bomet for the good.