KISII (Xinhua) --
Kenya plans to use the upcoming
Smithsonian Folk Life festival in the United States to draw world
attention to the poaching menace, a senior government official
said on Monday.
Culture and Sports Cabinet Secretary Ali Wario said in Kisii,
Western Kenya that the East African country is one of the two
key exhibitors for this year’s festival.
"We will use our center piece to draw global attention to
the campaign to save the endangered elephant," Wario said
during the commissioning of the elephant sculpture.
The ten-day event runs from June 25 to July 6.
The center piece is a 12-foot and 15-tonne monolithic
granite stone sculpture elephant that embodies Kenya’s
commitment to protecting its national heritage.
Kenya’s elephant and rhino population has been dwindling as a
result of poaching.
He added that Kenya will showcase its culture as part of
efforts to conserve the country’s endangered wildlife species,
which is the bedrock of our tourism.
It is a tradition that each country featured at the festival
develops a work of art that acts as the center piece of the
Wario noted that the sculpture will also showcase Kenya
as a preferred destination for conservation tourism.
"We will implement strategies to preserve, promote and
protect Kenyan intangible cultural heritage through visual
and performing arts," he said.
"We recognize the fact that cultural heritage, creative
industries, sustainable tourism and cultural infrastructure
can serve as strategic tools for revenue generation," the
cabinet secretary said.
He added that the carving exemplifies our concerted
effort to craft new and innovative ways of exploiting our
Kisii, which is located 300 kilometers north of Nairobi, is
renowned for being the home of soapstone.
The rock can be manipulated to make a variety of objects.
However, soapstone as an industry remains unexploited as mining
and carving is still done using rudimentary equipment
"The potential of soapstone is yet to be achieved but through
mechanization it will be possible," he said.
Ministry of Culture Director of Administration Ann
Nyikuli said that during the festival, Kenya will showcase
her uniqueness in the world as a nation.
"Kenya remains a coveted destination for prehistoric
culture, modern time traditions, cultural expressions as
well as contemporary technology and arts," Nyikuli said.
She added that the festival will open up avenues for
professional artistes to share their diversity of cross
cultural expressions in creative arts and exchange ideas on
Kenya Smithsonian Folk Life Festival Program Manager
Elizabeth Ouma said that Kenya will showcase its handling of
valued cultural expressions and natural heritage.
Kenya and the U.S. signed a memorandum of understanding on
collaboration in culture in 2011.
He said that Kenya plans to use art to uplift
"It is an aspiration for other upcoming artists," she
The sculpture was carved by a team lead by renowned artists
Elkana Ong’esa. Ong’esa, who is also the President of the Pan
Africa Association of Visual Artists, said that Kenya plans to
use elephant sculptor to reinforce its anti-poaching campaign.
He said that they began working on the stone carving two
"We will continue to finish the sculpture during the
festival so that visitors can experience Kenya’s artistry,"
"It is not just a piece of art but it indicates the
importance of wildlife to Kenya’s economy," Ong’esa said.
Kenya Smithsonian Folk Life Festival Communication Manager
Walter Mong’are said that event will be used to attract more
international tourists into Kenya.
"The festival provides us with an opportunity to showcase
our potential as a country to be a tourist and investment
destination, " he said.
Mong’are said that event will be used to enhance Kenya’s