MOMBASA, KENYA

Just to give you an idea of location, Kenya shares its borders with the countries of Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia.  Mombasa is an island connected to the mainland by a bridge and a causeway.  It has an important port which serves Kenya and the countries of the interior.

The Portuguese first came to Mombasa in the late 1400s  but soon left as “relations deteriorated with the townspeople.”  Mombasa’s natural harbour attracted a Turkish expediton who built a small fort there in the late 1500s.  The Portuguese, fearing for the security of their route back to Portugal, attacked and took Mombasa and built a large fort to guard the harbour entrance.  The Portuguese sailed under the flag of the Order of Christ, and so it became Fort Jesus.  Over the centuries the fort seesawed back and forth between the Arabs and the Portuguese.   Then the  British took over the fort in the late 1800s and used it as a prison.  In the 1950s it became a National Monument and in 2011 became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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ABOVE FORT JESUS

 

We visited the Akamba Woodcaving factory, only to find out that it is not a factory at all, but a conglomeration of poorly constructed huts.  The working conditions are deplorable, filthy with dirty water running through ditches, but these men turn out beautiful carved objects from masks to elephants and giraffes, salad servers and bowls.  The Akamba tribe are known for their carving skills and the co-op stores sells their work, giving them a percentage of the sales.

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WOODCARVERS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mombasa is like many other cities we have visited in Africa.  Lots of poverty. People eeking out a living by selling whatever they can on the streets from food to clothing to lottery tickets.  The citties seem to have no means or will to collect the garbage and it fills the streets and gutters and blows into the empty lots and fields.  I don’t know what the solution is.  Certainly governments both local and nationally that are willing to spend money on their people for programs and education and not line their own pockets would be a start.  

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