The Kirakira township is buzzing with excitement as the Makira banana festival kicked off yesterday.
Hundreds of people from far and near turned out in numbers to witness the grand occasion.
The highlight of the event was the float parade from the western end of the township where Makira premier Thomas Weape meets with the British High Commissioner His Excellency Dominic Meikel Johns and escorted him to the festival site.
The parade was led by the Mapungamanu cultural group of Nukukaisi, West Makira, followed by many cultural groups from all over the Makira Island, with the Makira banana queens.
The event goes along with speeches and the official cutting of the ribbon for the inauguration of the festival.
Speaking to introduce the event, Makira tourism association chairperson Mr Noel Mamau, who also chairs the festivals local organising committee highlighted the importance of the event as it will be an annual festival.
“The reason to celebrate this banana festival is simple. It is a staple food for every family in the Islands of Makira.
“Makira has the biggest variety of banana, which provides energy for the people of Makira.
“We want to make this festival an annual event as the plants have numerous uses.”
He stated the Makira tourism has seen banana as an idle icon for the Makira tourism industry.
“The Makira island tourism sector has seen banana as an idle icon for the province’s tourism industry.”
Guest of honour to the event Dominic Meikel John commended the hospitality of the Makira people and their staple food.
“I have friends in these beautiful islands of Makira. The hospitality of the Makira people makes up for the term Hapi Isles.”
Her majesty the queen in her first visit to the Solomon Islands did land on Makira Island, to be greeted by the hospitality of the Makira people.”
He congratulated the Makira people for their initiative of the festival.
“The initiative of the festival is a good one; wish you all a happy celebration and hope for your continuous link with the United Kingdom”.
Premier Weape commended the private sector for taking the lead in initiating the festival.
“I wish to acknowledge the Makira tourism sector for taking the lead in initiating the banana festival. It’s a positive move in the right direction.”
The presence of bigger companies like, Our Telekom, Islands Enterprise, Origin Gas, BSP, Central bank, and NGO’s like Kastom Gaden Association added flavour to the festival showcasing their products and information.
By CHARLEY PIRINGI