Mombasa Kenya

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Many people have written about Mombasa county for many years. Mombasa is a well-known city in the world. This city has many stories some are good and some are bad. I have researched and visited some of the places in this county. Here is a table of contents about Mombasa.

  1. History of Mombasa City
  2. Swahili Culture
  3. Coming of Europeans in Mombasa city
  4. Attractions in Mombasa city
    1. Mombasa Old Town – Ndia Kuu
    2. Old Port of Mombasa
    3. Old Post Office building
    4. Haller Park Sanctuary
    5. World trade fare Oganisation in Mombasa
  5. Markets in Mombasa City
    1. Kongowea Market
    2. Macknnon Market
  6. Economy of Mombasa

Mombasa Kenya information and excursions

Mombasa Landmark
Mombasa Landmark

Mombasa County is the second-largest city in Kenya. It has one of the oldest town in Africa . After devolution in 2013, the first governor of Mombasa became Ali Hasani Joho. Mombasa has five sub-counties: Changamwe, Jomvu, Mvita, Likoni, and Kisauni. Mombasa is a tourist town with many international hotels and beaches. Visitors come from different parts of world for a day excursions in Mombasa .

  Mombasa has a population of about 1, 341, 000. Arabs first called this city Manhasa. Manhasa means scattered or dispersed. 

“Kisiwa cha Vita”, meaning the Island of War in Kiswahili.

Why is Mombasa Island of war?

Many wars have been on this Island between Arabs, Africans, and Portuguese. They were fighting to control trade on the coast of Kenya.

How to access Mombasa Kenya Island

  From Nairobi National Park Mombasa city is 487 kilometers, using the Mombasa Nairobi highway.  325 kilometers from Tsavo East National Park at Voi gate using the Mombasa Nairobi highway. 727 kilometers from Amboseli National Park.   Mombasa is an Island. You have to use bridges and Ferries to get to Mombasa Island. To arrive at the Island from Nairobi . You’ll use the Kibarani Bridge. Malindi to Mombasa city you will have to cross the Nyali Bridge. Chinees constructed Nyali Bridge. This was around 1980. Nyali bridge is 396 meters long. 

Nyali bridge is used by pedestrians, motorcycles, and vehicles. If you are to go to Tanzania by road you will have to use the Likoni ferry channel. Likoni sub-county of Mombasa has the highest population of workers who cross Ferry on daily basis.

3000 vehicles, 200,000 people cross the Likoni channel daily. Likoni has a higher population . Houses are cheap in Likoni.   In 1997 there were tribal clashes in Likoni. The Digo tribe which lives in Likoni did not want the Luo tribe.

1997 tribal clashes in Likoni

The Luos are nilots who came to Kenya from Sudan. The Luo are found in Kisumu county near lake Victoria. Politicians incited the local people against the Luo tribe. This was a divide a rule strategy to win 1977 general elections. One day the locals burned houses of the other tribe . Many people lost their lives and property. Some people moved to other districts in Mombasa.

29th April 1994 a ferry from Mtongwe to the island capsized and killed 272. MV Mtongwe was designed to carry 300 passengers only. The day Mv Mtogwe capsized it had carried 400 passengers. The ferries are managed by the Kenya Ferry Services Limited.

Rush hours in Mombasa are between 5 am and 9 am. This is the time many people are going to work in Mombasa Island and at Kilindini. In the evening rush hours starts from 4 pm to 8 pm. Only one ferry operates between 12 and 5 pm.

Mombasa city has on international airport. Moi International Airport. The airport was constructed in 1978 . It was named after the Second President of Kenya Second President of Kenya Daniel Toroich Arap.

Mombasa international airport receives visitors all over the world.   Mombasa is a cosmopolitan town. All races live in Mombasa peacefully. found in Mombasa.  Islam and Christianity are the major religions in Mombasa.  It is a common thing to see Muslims wearing their religious clothes almost everywhere in the city of Mombasa.

  Religions in Mombasa

Where are the first mosques in Mombasa?

The first mosques wwas built in Ndia Kuu. In Mombasa town, you can see temples, churches and mosques.

Mombasa is a peaceful city; visitors all over the world come to this town.

History of Mombasa City

Mombasa city was founded around 1300. The founder of this city was queen “Mwana Mkisi” from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mwana Mkisi lived in Kongowea. She was an African traditionalist. Shehe Mvita ended the Mwana Mkisi dynasty. Mvita was a Muslim Priest, |he founded the Maudhry Mosque, this was a stone mosque. Shehe Mvita, was born in Mvita subcounty. Mvita sub-county has been able to bring prominent politicians to Mombasa. Sharrif Nassir and the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism in Kenya Hon. Najib Balala. were born in Mvita. Hon Najib has made very important decisions in the tourism sector. Hon Najib Balala beautified the city of Mombasa to international tourism standards in the ’90s.

Early visitors to Mombasa

Africans were the first people to live in Mombasa, on the 6th-century people from different races started to come to Mombasa. The Jordanians were the first foreigners in Mombasa. Persians in the 9th century, and Arabs around the 10th century. The first visitors to Mombasa between the 6th and 10th centuries did not use modern-day ships .Invaders in those days used dhows to sail to Mombasa city.

Persians and Arabs were the first people who established trade routes to the Middle East and India. The main reason which made invaders come to the coast of Mombasa Kenya was to spread Islam, look for goods like ivory, gold, rhino horns and spices from India.

 Original Africans who lived on the island welcomed the early foreigners to Mombasa. They were Bantu-speaking Africans. The Bantus were from one common ancestor who had nine sons, the nine sons formed the nine sub-tribes called the Mijikenda “nine homesteads”, the Arabs married African women from these nine tribes, the offspring’s of the Arabs and Africans are what we call the “Swahili” people. 

Swahili culture in Mombasa

These Swahili people speak Swahili as their language. Their religion is Islam. Their staple diet is rice, fish and bread. C

There is a large population of people who eat bread in Mombasa.

These foods include Kaimati, Mahamri, bhajia and chapatti.

 Local music here is Taarab, bango , Mwanzele and chakacha.

The people of Mombasa observe the Swahili festival each year in the month of March.

This culture has borrowed much from Arabic culture, you can find Africans having Arabian names even wearing like people from Saudi Arabia. Men wear white long clothes known as Kanzus. Women wear their long dresses known as Bui Bui. They wear open shoe sandals.

The coming of Europeans in Mombasa Island

Arabs established a port in Mombasa. This is Kenya’s oldest port and first port. The port transported goods from Mombasa to the middle east. Goods traded with goods like cowries shells, spices, ivory.

Sultan of Zanzibar started clove plantation, Sultan introduced slavery. Arabs started to do human traffic.

Arabs who introduced slavery in Africa used Mombasa city as a slave trade route to other nations in Middle East, Europe and America.

Vasco Dagama was the first European who came to Mombasa around 16th century. he discovered this route after he had tried to look for an alternative route to India. Pirates from Turkey started to attack their ships. Portuguese discovered a new route to India through the coast of Kenya. Arriving in Mombasa Vasco Dagama was not welcome by the locals, he had to flee to Malindi. At Malindi Vasco Dagama build the Portuguese chapel and a monument.


Attractions in Mombasa Kenya

Mombasa Old town  Ndia Kuu

The streets in the Mombasa island that lead to Fort Jesus. It has very narrow streets. Many traders used camels, donkeys and hand carts to transport goods in this town. Nowadays you will never find donkeys and camels in the town. Traders use hand carts “Mkokoteni”.

What are the means of transport in Mombasa Oldtown?

Three-wheel motorcycles “tuk-tuks”, motorcycles, bicycles can use the streets in the old town of Mombasa city.

Exported goods from Mombasa in those days include, ivory, rhino horns, spices, cowrie shells, clothes from India, gold, silver and slaves. Mombasa has many jewelry shops in Central business district. Portuguese introduced maize, now day’s cornmeal has become a common staple food in Kenya.

British declared Kenya as its protectorate. The British build the first post office along with Mombasa old town.

Old Port of Mombasa

The old port of Mombasa is one of the oldest ports in Kenya. It started operations in 16 century . Exports from old port were slaves, ivory, hides, cloves, sorghum and millet.

The first people to do international trade in Mombasa are Arabs Indians and Portuguese. British imperials East Africa company collected taxes on behalf of Sultan of Zanzibar. The British came to Kenya Kenya through Mombasa city around 1890.

the need for a bigger port. The British thought of building a railways line from Kenya to Uganda.

Old Post office building.

Around 1899 Imperial British East Africa had started to control East Africa, the colonial government thought of building a post office for easy communications.  The architecture of the building is British.

Haller Park in Mombasa.

A visitor feeding a giraffe at Haller park during feeding time

In 1900 places like Tudor in Mombasa was a forest.

    Cement in the Bamburi led to the construction of a cement factory in Mombasa. This factory cause deforestation in Bamburi. 

  The company decided to rehabilitate the land. The company looked for the help of Dr. Haller Parker . He came up with an idea of rehabilitating the quary. Haller Parker looked for species of trees in Kenya and other nations like Australia. He enriched the soil and introduced wildlife to the quarry.


World fair trade organization in Mombasa (Bombolulu workshop and cultural center)

Persons with disabilities in Kenya lacked education in the early 1960s. They lacked walking aids like wheelchairs, crutches, braces, walking sticks and white canes.  Bombolulu workshop and cultural organization have transformed formed tlives of people living with disabilities.  It trains people with disabilities in tailoring, jewelry, welding and business skills. The government of Kenya donates some of those wheelchairs to people living with disabilities for free. Visitors who visit this place can donate free wheelchairs to persons living in Kenya. The workshop has four sheltered workshops metal works, jewelers, woodwork, and leatherwork.

Masai performing a traditional dance in Kenya

National parks near Mombasa

Mwaluganje National park isin Kwale County. this national reserve is home to elephants in Kwale County. The the sanctuary has elephants, giraffes, buffaloes and warthogs.

Markets in Mombasa

Kongowea Market

This market is one of the largest markets in Mombasa. Mombasa is the second-largest market Market in Kenya after Gikomba Market.   Mombasa receives goods from inland Kenya and other East African countries. East African countries are Tanzania and Uganda Somalia Rwanda Burundi and Southern Sudan. Kongowea market supplying goods to other markets and stalls in Mombasa county.

MacKinnon Market in Mombasa
A grocery in MacKinnon Market in Mombasa

MacKinnon Market was build around 1914.

It is located along Digo road. Some meters away from Absa bank. Only white settlers and Asians were able to buy and sell in this market.  Africans had their own market at Jomo Kenyatta Avenue.

After Kenya got independence in 1963. Africans were now able to buy goods from this market. The name of this Market became Marikiti in Kiswahili.   Goods trade in this market are spices, coconuts, macadamia nuts, Kenyan passions fruit, Zanzibar passion fruits cereals, sandals, fruits and vegetables.  It operated from 8 am to 3 pm daily.

Economy of Mombasa

Mombasa county has the largest port in East and Central Africa. The Port of Mombasa.  The port of Mombasa is active throughout the year..  Land-locked countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and southern Sudan depend on the port of Mombasa. Between 1896 to 1901, the colonial government constructed the Kenya Uganda railway. It starts from Mombasa to Uganda. This railway caused many people to die in Tsavo West National Park. 135 people died at Man-eaters of Tsavo. Kenya’s government constructed a new standard gauge railway from Mombasa city to Nairobi.

 Limestone is all over Mombasa County. Bamburi cement factory and Mombasa cement are the largest mining companies in Mombasa.

Are there manufacturing industries in Mombasa?

There are manufacturing industries Mombasa maize millers, grain industries limited, clearing and forwarding companies, fish processing companies, importing and exporting companies, car sales companies, tourism companies and many more others.

Sports clubs in Mombasa

There are a number of sports clubs in Mombasa, Mbaraki sports club, and Aghakan sports club, Mombasa sports club.

Golf courses in Mombasa

The golf courses in Mombasa are Nyali golf club and Mamangina golf club and Mombasa cement golf.

Hotels in Mombasa

White sands hotels and spur located along the new Mombasa Malindi road

Bamburi beach hotel

Baobab resort

Milele beach

Museum is Mombasa 

There are two museums in Mombasa; the Swahili Museum is just a few meters from the Mombasa

Where does Mombasa get its water from?

Mombasa County has no rivers. it receives a lot of water from Taita Taveta County. Taita Taveta County has many water catchment areas. Water to Mombasa County from Mzima Springs. Mzima Springs is in Tsavo West National Park.

The best time to visit Mombasa

You can visit Mombasa any time of the year. Except if you would like to do sporting activities and beach holidays in Mombasa.


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