Tag - thankful

The Beauty of Heena

Every Eid and during weddings women in Mombasa adorn their hands with floral henna patterns, some with the black dye and others natural henna.

In Mombasa, there are henna artist who do the henna designs around town but the most common place is called Bin Sidiq center on Bawazir Lane. There are few salons located inside the shopping arcade that primarily do henna art. In addition, you can find a few on Facebook where you can see samples of their work before you visit them and book online.


The designs depend on status, for little girls normally a small simple design pattern suffices. For a single girl, the art goes just up to the wrist of the hand whereas for married women it is not restricted.

It is believed that a woman must always adorn her hands with henna to look beautiful for her husband so that whenever she is with him, he sees the beautiful and colourful artwork.

The price starts at 300 kshs for a smaller design i.e to the wrist and the higher the design on the hand it goes the higher the price.  Bridal designs are different from the other designs because it is the bride’s first night with her husband she has to look extra beautiful.

Different cultures have specific designs; you can Indian design Mehndi or United Arab Emirates Khaleeji style, also Sudanese black dye style.

The process includes mixing the henna powder with water, and the designer puts the wet henna in a cone which is used to draw with. Once the henna is applied on your skin, you wait for about forty five minutes to one hour for it to dry.After that, you just peel off the dried henna and normally you are advised not to touch water for 6-8 hours so the henna can darken preferably overnight. These days henna is mixed with a thinner which speeds up the process of drying.

Jumba la Mtwana

The full name Jumba la Mtwana means in Swahili “the large house of the slave”. Within this area four mosques, a tomb and four houses have survived in recognizable condition. These houses include the House of the Cylinder, The House of the Kitchen, The House of the Many Pools, which had three phases, and the Great Mosque. The inhabitants of this town were mainly Muslims as evidence by a number of ruined mosques.

There are no written historical records of the town but ceramic evidence showed that the town had been built in the fourteenth century but abandoned early in the fifteenth century. The dating is based on the presence of a few shreds of early blue and white porcelain with lung-chuan celadon, and the absence of any later Chinese wares.

It is most likely the site’s strategic position was selected because of the presence of fresh water, exposure to the North East and South East breezes which would keep the people cool and its safe location from external attacks by sea since it had no harbor, thus larger vessels had to anchor along way offshore, or move probably in Mtwapa creek. One can only therefore guess reasons for its eventual desertion, namely trade interruption, hostile invasion or a failure in water supply. Though there is need to pursue further research on this.
Clearance and excavation of the ruins were first carried out in 1972 by James Kirkman with a view of dating the buildings, its period of occupation and consolidating buildings which were in danger of collapse. Ten years later in 1982, Jumba la Mtwana was gazetted as a National Monument. Thus Jumba is legally protected under Antiquities and Monuments Act Chapter 215 of the Laws of Kenya.

Excerpt from National Museums of Kenya

Mombasa Instameet #wwim12_Mombasa

Every few months Instagram hosts a worldwide instaMeet, basically photo enthusiasts coming together to take photos and videos and upload on instagram.

A definition as per their blog “An InstaMeet is a group of Instagrammers meeting up to take photos and videos together. That’s it! An InstaMeet can happen anywhere and be any size. They’re a great opportunity to share tips and tricks with other community members in your area, and an excuse to get out and explore someplace new!”

A group of people or an individual can plan and organize an instaMeet in their city and invite others via Instagram.

In the beginning of October 2015, Instagram called out for worldwide InstaMeet number 12. The theme was #WWIM12 is to share #todayimet portraits of the people you meet at the InstaMeet.

For Mombasa we held the Instameet at Mombasa Butterfly House, located next to Fort Jesus. The Mombasa Butterfly House has on display butterflies that have been purchased from community groups living adjacent to key coastal forests, including the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest.

About 20 people attended the event, we enjoyed getting know one another and capture the different species of butterflies that inhibits the gardens. We were given a tour of the garden, and a few facts on Butterflies and the House itself.

Below are scene captured from the InstaMeet



Nguuni Nature Sanctuary

Nguuni Nature sanctuary is located 4km from Lafarge Bamburi Cement on the Nguu Tatu Hills; the amazing sanctuary is the home to many species. Including Giraffes, elands, oryx, waterbucks, ostriches and many species of birds have made Nguuni their home. Large Doum Palm crowned by Leopard Orchids are scattered in the grassland.

Nguuni offers a beautiful location to view the sunset, also caters to weddings, camps and barbecue sundowners. At sunset Giraffes make their way to the picnic area for feeding. You can experience feeding the giraffes without gates or barriers, an exquisite experience only at Nguuni.

I had the privilege of visiting Nguuni during a sunset and the experience was magical and enchanting, I had the experience to feed the giraffes who made their way to the picnic area, as the sunset the giraffes made their way back to the grassland. The backdrop of the landscape and giraffes walking away was very beautiful and delightful.

Below are photos from the trip.

Mwembe Tayari Memorial





Memory of Arab and Native African troops who fought the carriers who were the feet and hands of the army and to all other Men who served and died for their kin and country in Eastern Africa in the great war of 1914-1918. The Monument is located on Jomo Kenyatta avenue at Mwembe Tayari area.


Duka La Abdalla Leso

Located in the heart of Biashara Street, Duka ya Abdallah under the Kaderdina Hajee Essak Ltd have been around since the forties of the nineteenth century. Mali ya Abdalla Leso has become a household name in Mombasa and other parts of the world.

The leso is a rectangular piece of material made of pure cotton. It measures approximately 150 x 110 cm, and is wide enough to cover a person from the neck to knees or from breast to toe. All lesos have fairly broad borders (pindo) all around and are printed in bold designs and bright colours. Lesos are bought in pairs – a pair is known as a gora – and are most attractive and useful as a pair. A gora of lesos is joined along the width of the fabric when bought. The buyer then cuts along the width and hems each of the two pieces of lesos to prevent fraying of the sides of the fabric. The leso is also known as the Khanga – the names are interchangeable. – Duka Ya Abdalla

The saying is the crucial part of the leso, it sends a message, and it tells a story to others. Others are made for gifts to newlyweds, to new parents and etc. Once you step into the shop you look for two things in the leso- the saying and colour patterns of the leso. Choosing a name depends on the occasion of the purchase of the leso. If it is for a newlywed, one with beautiful colours and congratulatory words will be ideal.   A tradition that used to be common in Mombasa is when neighbors quarrel they just argue through sayings of the leso, one will wear a Leso with a saying that indicates hate to the other. Duka Ya Abdalla gets the sayings from anyone who gives them suggestion, they accept from the general public.

So if you are in Mombasa, take a walk to Biashara street to Duka ya Abdalla shop and peruse through the different patterns and colours of the lesos showcased.

In the meantime here are some samples from my visit to Duka ya Abdalla shop.

Jina langu ni Abdulrahman Ndegwa


Abdulrahman blogging.

Your name and what do you do?

My name is Abdulrahman Ndegwa and I use the pen name Abu Amirah in all my blogs. I write but work as an Admin at an Islamic information centre to pay the bills! Currently am running two blogs, a weekly column right here at LIM and also part of a pioneering group of writers representing the Coast under the banner tendi.org.

Tell us more about your move to Mombasa?

I moved here in the fall of ’07 right after the elections. My move wasn’t because of the PEV violence but it was a calling of sorts because I felt Mombasa, with its distinguished Islamic signature and identity would be the right place for me since I had embraced Islam that same year. I really wanted somewhere I could start over as Abdulrahman as compared to being in Nairobi where everyone knew me as Dennis.

What made you revert to Islam?

I would say it was because I was at a critical stage in my life when I was trying to come into terms with my spirituality and purpose in life. I considered Rastafarianism because it really advocated for peace and humility but there never was a significant difference between it and the outlawed Mungiki so I shun the idea. Up to then, I had never considered Islam or even researched about it. One Saturday evening my young bro came with a piece of paper some Muslims had dished out in the bus. On it was the shahada (declaration of faith) in Arabic and Kiswahili and for some reason the phrase just ignited something in me and on Sunday morning I walked into the local Masjid and became a Muslim!

Have you faced any difficulties after accepting Islam?
Well, nothing major to write home about because my family has been very supportive and we respect each other’s religious identities. Am the only Muslim in my family and it gives me a lot of joy when am with my folks and little cousins and they are using “In Sha Allah” and “Masha Allah” and making light jokes about my beard (a note to Uncle Kenny: ndevu ishafika kifuani!). I mean, it’s a blessing to have such a wonderful family. I meet New Muslims every day in our centre and some of their stories are very moving, with some even getting chased away from home just because they embraced Islam.

The way I see it, if someone goes home and tells his family that he has joined the freemason, he stands a higher chance of getting accepted than when he becomes a Muslim. Sad but true.

Why do you write?

I write because it’s a God given talent. Because it is through writing that am able to adequately reconcile the voices in my head to put their heads together (tadaaa!) and come up with something readable and fascinating. Because it is through the written word that History is preserved for future generations.

I write because the process of coming up with characters and putting them down in a story gives me immeasurable gratification when I see them assume lives of their own which resonates with the reader’s own experiences. I write because I love to and if this was a drug then I would be a desperate junkie!

What does it mean to be a writer in Mombasa?

Being a writer in Mombasa is an immense challenge because we write from the back drop of a rich cultural history which was the impetus of our National language and needs to be preserved well. The minor challenge is writing or re-writing this history without losing its meaning and the major issue is writing to a generation and society that has a dismal reading culture. A writer in Mombasa has to compete for attention amongst people who prefer listening and watching to reading. Getting the point across such an obstacle is not easy.

What motivates you to write?

I am motivated by real life stories and a myriad of other things in nature. For a writer, anything, however vaguely mundane it may seem, is enough to motivate and inspire one to write. My wife too is a huge motivation because she is my biggest fan and critic. She reads my stories (she read ‘my ideal woman’ in my blog before I married her) and offers very beneficial input. If I was to write for her I would do every passage a thousand times over!

Any artist will tell you that the biggest motivation is having a spouse/partner who supports and appreciates what you do because talent is innate and even if everything is stripped from you, it will always remain intact and true! An artist and his trade are inseparable.

Mombasa is diverse city do you feel that tribalism present in Mombasa?

Tribalism is rampant everywhere and Mombasa is not an exception especially because we are ardent political debaters and the issue of tribe is wont to rise in our conversations.

In its diversity, Mombasa is still rising from the ashes of marginalization and the only thing that suppresses tribalism talk is the commodious ethno-lingual culture which tends to be very welcoming, and the youth of today are using it to combat this tribal vice.

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

Haha, this is hard. Ummmm, I don’t know, I guess it is classified info, ‘for her eyes/ears only’ and I may have to literally shoot you if I tell you. (Copied from a movie I watched kitambo). But yenyewe I don’t think I have anything surprising enough to make your heart skip a beat, am simple like that!

Parting shot
My parting shot is to all artists (writers, bloggers, photographers, poets, et al) in Mombasa. We are faced with a crisis of putting across the right message to our audience. We have to work together to create credible, fascinating and entertaining content that is appropriate for all audiences and age groups.

Jamila is doing a great job uniting artists in Mombasa and we can use this to create more awareness and appreciation for our content. Let us stop this ‘art drain’ where artists from the Coast have to relocate to places like Nairobi to be appreciated. Ni hayo tu kwa sasa! 

Old Town

Old town Mombasa is full of rich culture and traditional architect, that keep you inspired. Even though I am native coastarian, every time I visit I find a hidden gem. One thing I have realized take a tour guide from Fort Jesus, the guides have vast Knowledge of the Old town and the habitats.  I recently took a tour guide and I was impressed by their knowledge of Old town, very inspiring.

Below are photos taken by an iphone :


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Coast Sandals

The sandals are meticulously cut, trimmed and beaded by hundreds of highly skilled Swahili craftsmen in workshops mostly tucked away in the inner parts of the city. Every sandal you buy plays out as strong support for the local economy. Plus there’s something inherently positive about handmade items. You feel the crafter’s passion.

Read about coast Sandals on Femme Hub




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Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.

Muslim’s fast between dusk and dawn, no water or food can be consumed. Also, it is advisable to spend all free time doing worship. In Mombasa, a tradition passed on by generation and generations is every evening between 4pm and dusk food vendors align themselves from Markiti to Bonden selling varieties of coastal snacks at affordable prices. The residents of Mombasa call it Al-Arsa meaning varieities of food.

Below find slideshow gallery of the Street Vendors