Mombasa Kenya is the second largest town in the country with a population of about 600,000 and the ofﬁcial gateway to the country by sea. Mombasa city has a history dating back to more than 2,000 years when the Persians, Arabs, Greeks and Romans visited the East African Coast and carried out trade between the Coast and the Mediterranean Lands.
History of Mombasa Kenya
Mombasa Kenya is built on what was formerly an Island separated from the mainland by a narrow channel until a causeway was built at the beginning of this century connecting the Island with the mainland. Both the sea-farers from the Persian Gulf, the Indian Sub-continent, the Cape of Good Hope and the land-lubbers from the African Continent met at Mombasa Island to enjoy its calm beauty once described by Winston Churchill, (1908) as “alluring and delicious”.
For a period of over 1400 years since the Great Geographer Ptolemy marked the town of Mombasa on his “World Map” of A.D. 150 until the island was seized by the Portuguese who built Fort Jesus there to signify their reign on the East African Coast, Mombasa town was the hub of commerce“ and communications between Eastern Africa, Middle East and the Far Eastern countries. The Portuguese were however driven out of Mombasa by the Arabs who ruled the Island until the arrival of the British in 1873.
The British stopped the dreadful slave trade and eventually established orderly government and development facilities like the Uganda Railway, Kilindini Harbour and several tourist facilities along the Mombasa Coast.
Mombasa’s tempo of development continued. Missionaries built churches and Indians and Muslims established temples, Mosques and bazaars. After independence in 1963, the up-country African communities brought with them a rich wealth of business experience which expanded the town as a commercial and tourism nerve centre at the Coast.
The old section of the town with its old-fashioned houses, carved doorways and shops fringe the old dhow harbour with Fort Jesus dominating the entrance. This section is characterized by narrow streets and passages. There is the Customs House, a fishmarket and shops which sell carpets, chest, brassware, souvenirs and colourful clothes. Various African traders sell curios and antiques in the shops and on the sidewalk vendors.
A museum has been established within Fort Jesus displaying ancient artifacts of the coastal life. Shops in Digo Road and Moi avenue in the main town offer excellent shopping facilities. A signiﬁcant landmark in Mombasa is the “Mombasa tusks” built in 1952 to commemorate the visit of Queen Elzabeth. The town offers various night entertainment interesting artefacts unearthed from the ruins.
The ruins are surrounded by a thick coastal forest where interesting mammals and birds are seen. Some of the common mammals include Greater galago, Bushbaby, Blue monkey, Yellow baboon, Black and white colobus, Red duiker, Blue duiker, Ader’s duiker, suni and Black-faced vervet monkey. Birds are plentiful and one is sure of seeing interesting forest bird species like Crested guineafowl, Green pigeon, Fischer’s turaco, Brown-headed parrot, trumpeter hornbill, Silvery-cheeked hornbill and many others.
From Gede village one travels for about 8 kilometres to Watamu village beyond which is the Watamu Marine National Park established in 1968 for the preservation of the coral reef resources.