Fort Jesus of Mombasa Kenya

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Fort Jesus or Fort Jesus of Mombasa

A  cannon at Fort Jesus in Mombasa
One of the cannons that sounded Fort Jesus in Mombasa

Fort Jesus of Mombasa is found in Mombasa Island in Kenya. It is the second-largest city in Kenya is one of the most visited cities in East Africa. It has many good beaches at the North coast and south coast. The Portuguese built Fort Jesus the 16 century. The main reason was to spread Christianity and trade in the Indian Ocean. Fort Jesus is one of the world heritage centers under United Nations Educational and cultural organization.

This post talks about this iconic building in Mombasa.

  1. Oder of King Philip II of Portugal
  2. Genesis of War in Fort Jesus
  3. Fort Jesus seige
  4. Cannnons in Fort Jesus
  5. Artifacts in Fort Jesus

Portuguese first landed on the East African coast in 1485. Portuguese were catholic Christians. Moors are Africans who had converted to Islam. On the day Portuguese arrived in Mombasa. They faced opposition from Arabs. The Portuguese moved to Malindi. Malindi is a tourist town in Kenya. At Malindi, Portuguese build the Portuguese Chapel. Portuguese Chapel is a monument. Portuguese also build the Vasco Da Gama Pillar. India had spices. Spices became very expensive in Portugal because of medicinal values. When Portuguese The Turkish started to attack ships from Portugal.

Fort Jesus build by oder of King Philip 1853

The scramble and partitioning of Africa in 1853. King Philip II of Portugal gave an order to build a Fort in Mombasa. T Fort Jesus was to protect their ships going to Malindi and Goa India.   A designer Giovanni Battista Cairati came up with a plan for the building. The plan was in the building in the form of a man. Part of the building curved on a coral rock in a peculiar shape. This shape could not allow people to climb the wall.

Giovanni Battista died in India in 1593. The building of Fort Jesus was supervised by the captain, Mateus Mendes de Vasconcelos on 11th April 1593. Construction. Mendes De Vasconcelos came with Masons from India. Mendes De Vasconcelos called it Fortress of Jesus. Rembersoldiers the soldiers use force to Evangelis

The height of Fort Jesus was 15 meters. The Oman Arabs captured Fort Jesu. They constructed three meters higher making the wall have a total of 18 meters, Fort Jesus had for Bastions: S. Felipe, S. Alberto, S. Mathias and S. Mateus. Some believe that the first doors of the Fort had Portuguese influence. It is not known if the first doors were by Portuguese. The doors which are there are Arabic doors. The doors are known as Lamu doors.

A lamu door in Fort Jesus Mombasa
Arabic doors in Fort Jesus: A sign that Arabs controlled the fort

The genesis of War in Fort Jesus

In 1626 Mohamed Yusuf from Mombasa Island travelled with Portugees to Goa India for education. Mohamed Yusuf became a Christian. Given the Portuguese name Dom Jeronimo Chingulia. He had married a Portuguese woman. The Portuguese did not know he was their enemy. Portuguese soldiers had killed Dom Jeronimo’s father.

Dom Jeronimo wanted to revenge. Dom Jeronimo aka Mohamed Yusuf became a Sultan. In 1631 Dom Jeronimo Chingulia came by surprise and killed captain  Pedro Leitão de Gamboa and all the Portugees who were living on the Island inside Fort Jesus of Mombasa: (45 men, 35 women and 70 children). Some soldiers had to come from Goa India. After two months of siege (10 January 1632-19 March 1632), they abandoned the enterprise. On 16 May the Sultan abandoned Mombasa and became a pirate. On 5 August 1632.  A small Portuguese force under the captain Pedro Rodrigues Botelho from Zanzibar reoccupied Fort Jesus.

Fort Jesus Seige of Fort Jesus of Mombasa

In 1661 Sultan  Yusuf I bin Al- Hassan attacked and took the control of the fort Jesus, 1632  the Portuguese recaptured  Fort  Jesus and fortified it more making it very secure and not easy for invaders to attack and penetrate.

13th March 1696 to 1698 the Oman Arabs led by Saif Ibin Sultan attacked the Garrison. Fort Jesus became under siege for two years. There were about 70 Portuguese soldiers in Fort Jesus. Hundred loyal  African soldiers and civilians. Those in the building died of diseases, hunger and thirst.

In December all the Portuguese soldiers died in the Fort.   Oman Arabs handed Fort Jesus to Sheikh Daudi of Faza and the seventeen members of his family eight African men and 50 African women. On September 15   and December 1697. The Portuguese send reinforcement to Mombasa. This was a siege. On December 1698 only a captain, a priest and nine men were alive in Fort Jesus. The Oman Arabs came to attack on December thirteen and captured the fort.  Portuguese arrived late. The Portuguese surrendered to the joint force of Somali and Oman.  (Muslims)

In 1728 the British came and took control of Fort Jesus.

Fort Jesus of Mombasa has become one example of Portuguese fornication in the world. This building has become one of the most visited places in Mombasa Kenya like Haller Park in Mombasa.

Arabs used the fort as a cave to hide slaves. Here they put slaves from Zimbabwe, Zambia n.   They exported slaves to Europe and the Middle East countries

A slave cave at Fort Jesus Mombasa
A slave Chamber in fort Jesus

Cannons in fort Jesus

British cannons in Mombasa
Cannons visible in Fort Jesus Mombasa

The Portuguese and Britons never wanted other invaders to come to Mombasa Island. There are two types of cannons that you will see in Fort Jesus, the Portuguese cannon which can throw the cannonball of about ten kilograms 200 meters and the British canon which can throw the cannonball 300 meters.  Canons were around the building.

The British took control of the building in 1631 and 1875. Fort Jesus became a barrack for British soldiers. British converted the building to a Prison. Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was jailed in Fort Jesus. British declared Fort Jesus a national monument.

Artifacts in Fort Jesus

The artifacts in fort Jesus are ceramic, pottery and potteries. These were collected on Mombasa. Zanzibar, Malindi and Lamu. The sword of Saeed Sayeed the Sultan of Zanzibar is collected here, a Museum. The Arabs marked the building by using inscriptions on the doorposts and ceiling beams.

A skeleton in  Mombasa
Skeleton of a man in Fort Jesus Mombasa

One of the ruins which you will see in fort Jesus is the Oman house. Sultan lived here. Portuguese build a water canister to collect water in the building. A small church in the compound. a skeleton of a man, people believe that the man was a priest. A well 76 feet deep. Slaves dug the well.

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