The Technical University of Mombasa boasts a staff of approximately 600 members and takes pride in the cultural diversity of its employees. In celebration of this, the Human Resources office organized a staff cultural day for the very first time in the university's history. 

The special committee for Cultural Day, led by Mr. Juma Wanyonyi, one of the main event coordinators, organized a full day of exciting activities. These activities included preparing cultural foods, wearing traditional attire, organizing football matches, and tug of war. On May 15th, 2024, staff from various departments, both academic and administrative, gathered at the assembly hall and the event kicked off with a vernacular Maasai prayer.

The twelve tribes represented were Mijikenda, Luo, Pokomo, Kamba, Swahili, Kalenjin, Kikuyu, Meru, Kisii, Luhya, Taita, and Maasai. TUM staff were dressed in their traditional costumes such as the Maasai's Shuka, Mijikenda's Visutu, and Luo's Owalo, among many others. This included our very own Professor Laila, who adorned the Kalenjin attire and later changed to her traditional Mijikenda attire.

Each group decorated their corners with beautiful ornaments and artifacts, such as Kyondo from the Kamba, Kithari from the Meru, Orwambo from the Kisii, and Nkasi from the Pokomo tribes.

Mr. David Mwaringa, a journalist and voice-over artist from Msenangu FM, and Mr. Erick Milimu, both alumni of TUM, who are deeply invested in and enthusiastic about drama and culture, served as judges at the event. 

They evaluated how well the different cultures internalized their traditions, the quality of their explanations, and the effectiveness of their presentations. For the food preparation, they were keen on the originality, presentation, variety, and taste of the traditional meals. Some cultures excelled in explaining the benefits of their meals, meal times, waste disposal practices, and more. For example, the Mijikenda constructed a traditional kaya, while others like the Kalenjin showcased their attires and ornaments from head to toe.

The judges, guests, and staff, including the Vice Chancellor and the two Deputy Vice Chancellors, enjoyed a variety of traditional meals at the buffet. They sampled dishes such as matobosha from the Swahili tribe, Chisaka from Luhya, Muthokoi from the Kikuyu, Kimanga from the Taita, and drank the Mursik from the Kalenjin tribe which were all on display. 

Afterwards, the TUM community gathered for an intense soccer match. Two teams were formed, and after an entertaining game, it ended with a score of 2-0. Tag of war followed among two male teams and thereafter, between two female teams which Professor Laila joined in as well. The staff had a very joyful afternoon which was to some capacity, a team-building experience.

The top three cultures as announced by the judges were: Swahili as the second runner's up, the Abaluhya tribe as the runner-up and finally, the tribe that emerged first was the Mijikenda. 

Additionally, the Kalenjin were awarded the ‘Best Costumes Award’, the ‘Well-Presented’ Award went to the Mijikenda Community, the ‘Original Culture’ Award went to Mijikenda and Maasai, the ‘Variety of Food’ Award went to Swahilis and finally, the ‘Adjudicators’ Award went to the Luo community. Nonetheless, all the tribes were praised and congratulated for their impressive performance despite the time limits.

The event was also wrapped up with a vernacular prayer from the Kalenjin. This was after a brief word by Professor Laila and Professor Rasowo who were equally happy for such an exciting, enlightening and fun day, promising to make this an annual event. This event will be a perfect means of cultivating cultural heritage, celebrating diversity and embracing togetherness among the TUM staff.

Tags: TUM, Culture, Tradition, Diversity, Tribes, Cultural Day, TUM staff