Definitions

Mombasa

Mombasa

[mom-bah-sah, -bas-uh]
Mombasa, city (1990 est. pop. 537,000), capital of Coast prov., SE Kenya, mostly on Mombasa island in the Indian Ocean and partly on the mainland (with which it is connected by a causeway). It is Kenya's chief port and an important commercial and industrial center. Manufactures include processed food, cement, and glass. Oil is refined and tourism is also important. From the 8th to the 16th cent. Mombasa was a center of the Arab trade in ivory and slaves. The city was visited (1498) by Vasco da Gama on his first voyage to India. Mombasa was burned three times by the Portuguese. The Portuguese controlled the city until 1698, when it was regained by the Arabs; the Portuguese briefly held the city again in 1729. It came under Zanzibar in the mid-19th cent. and passed to Great Britain in 1887. Mombasa was the capital of the British East Africa Protectorate from 1887 to 1907. Of note are the remains of Fort Jesus, built by the Portuguese in 1593-94. The city's extensive beaches and resorts attract thousands of tourists annually.

City (pop., 2006 est.: 823,500), Kenya, located on the island of Mombasa off the southern coast of Kenya. The island has an area of 5.5 sq mi (14.25 sq km) and is linked to the mainland by causeway, bridge, and ferry; the city includes a mainland area of 100 sq mi (259 sq km). Founded by Arab traders in the 11th century, it was visited in 1498 by the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama. With its strategic position for the Indian Ocean trade, it was continually fought over, passing among the Arabs, Persians, Portuguese, and Turks until 1840, when Zanzibar gained control. It came under British administration in 1895 and was the capital of the East Africa Protectorate until 1907. It is Kenya's chief port and second largest city; it is also a major agricultural market.

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Mombasa is the second largest city in Kenya, lying on the Indian Ocean. It has a major port and an international airport. The city is the centre of the coastal tourism industry. The original Arabic name is Manbasa; in Swahili it is called Kisiwa Cha Mvita (or Mvita for short), which means "Island of War", due to the many changes in its ownership. The town is also the headquarters of Mombasa District which, like most other districts in Kenya, is named after its chief town.

Description

The city has a population of 707,400 and is located on Mombasa Island, which is separated from the mainland by two creeks; Tudor Creek and Kilindini Harbour. The island is connected to the mainland to the north by the Nyali Bridge, to the south by the Likoni Ferry and to the west by the Makupa Causeway, alongside which runs the Uganda Railway. The port serves both Kenya and countries of the interior, linking them to the Ocean. The town is served by Moi International Airport.

The town is mainly occupied by the Muslim Mijikenda/Swahili people. Over the centuries there have been many immigrants and traders who settled in Mombasa, particularly from Persia, Middle East, Somalia and Indian sub-continent who came mainly as traders and skilled craftsmen and even after four or five generations, their descendants continue to contribute highly to the economy of present day Mombasa and Kenya as a whole.

Traditional dress for the Swahili women is a brightly coloured, printed cotton sheet called a kanga, which may have inspirational slogans printed on it. Muslim women wear a covering known as a bui bui, that is traditionally black, along with a head covering called a hijaab, and sometimes wear a veil called a nikab, also known as the "ninja". Men wear a type of sarong, which is coloured in bright bands, called a "kikoi".

History

The founding of Mombasa is associated with two rulers: Mwana Mkisi (female) and Shehe Mvita. According to oral history and medieval commentaries (also based on oral history), Shehe Mvita superseded the dynasty of Mwana Mkisi and established his own town on Mombasa Island. Shehe Mvita is remembered as a Muslim of great learning and so is connected more directly with the present ideals of Swahili culture that people identify with Mombasa. The ancient history associated with Shehe Mvita and the founding of an urban settlement on Mombasa Island is still linked to present-day peoples living in Mombasa. The Thenashara Taifa (or Twelve Nations) Swahili lineages recount this ancient history today and are the keepers of local Swahili traditions. Even though today Mombasa is a very heterogeneous cultural mix, families associated with the Twelve Nations are still considered the original inhabitants of the city. Most of the early information on Mombasa comes from Portuguese chroniclers writing in the sixteenth century. The famous Moroccan scholar and traveller Ibn Battuta did visit Mombasa in 1331 on his travels on the eastern coast of Africa and made some mention of the city, although he only stayed one night. He noted that the people of Mombasa were Shãfi'i Muslims, "a religious people, trustworthy and righteous. Their mosques are made of wood, expertly built."

The exact founding date of the city is unknown, but it has a long history. It must have been already a prosperous trading town in the 12th century, as the Arab geographer Al Idrisi mentions it in 1151. During the pre-modern period Mombasa was an important centre for the trade in spices, gold and ivory. Its trade links reached as far as China and oral historians today can still recall this period of local history. Throughout early modern period Mombasa was a key node in the complex and far reaching Indian Ocean trading networks, its key exports then were ivory, millet, sesamum and coconuts. In the late pre-colonial period (late nineteenth century) it was the metropolis of a plantation society, which became dependent on slave labour (sources contradict whether the city was ever an important place for exporting slaves) but ivory caravans remained a major source of economic prosperity.

The great Chinese fleet of Zheng He is supposed to have visited Mombasa around 1415.

Vasco da Gama was the first known European to visit Mombasa, receiving a chilly reception in 1498. Two years later, the town was sacked by the Portuguese. In 1502 the sultanate became independent from Kilwa Kisiwani as Mvita (in Swahili) or Manbasa (Arabic). Portugal attacked the city again in 1528, and built Fort Jesus in 1593 in an attempt to colonise, from which time it was governed by a Captain-major. In 1638 it formally became a Portuguese colony (subordinated to Goa, as a stronghold on the route to Portuguese India).

In 1698, the town came under suzerainty of the Sultanate of Oman, but it became subordinate to Zanzibar, prompting regular local rebellions. Oman appointed three consecutive Governors (Wali in Arabic, Liwali in Swahili):

  • 12 December 1698–December 1698 Imam Sa`if ibn Sultan
  • December 1698–1728 Nasr ibn Abdallah al-Mazru`i
  • 1728–12 March 1728 Shaykh Rumba

Next, Mombasa returned to Portuguese rule by captains-major Álvaro Caetano de Melo Castro (12 March 172821 September 1729), then four new Omani Liwali till 1746, when the last of them made it independent again (disputed by Oman), as the first of its recorded Sultans:

  • 1746–1755 `Ali ibn Uthman al-Mazru`i
  • 1755–1773 Masud ibn Naisr al-Mazru`i
  • 1773–1782 Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mazru`i
  • 1782–1811 Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Mazru`i (b. 17..–d. 1814)
  • 1812–1823 `Abd Allah ibn Ahmad al-Mazru`i (d. 1823)
  • 1823–1826 Sulayman ibn `Ali al-Mazru`i

From 9 February 1824 to 25 July 1826 there was a British protectorate over Mombasa, represented by Governors. Omani rule was restored in 1826; seven liwalis where appointed. On 24 June 1837 it was nominally annexed by sultan of Zanzibar and muscat Sayyid Saeed Bin Sultan with the assistance of Shaikh Isa Bin Tarif with his tribe Original Utub Al Bin Ali . Isa Bin Tarif , Chief of the Al Bin Ali Al Utbi Tribe, is a descendant of the Original Utub who conquered Bahrain . Fort Jesus in Mombasa was named after Shaikh Isa Bin Tarif . The name Jesus in Arabic means Isa, therefore it means the Fort of Isa (Isa Bin Tarif ). The Al Bin Ali (the tribe of Isa Bin Tarif ) were a politically important group that moved backwards and forwards between Qatar and Bahrain, they were the original dominant group of Zubara area .

On 25 May 1887, its administration was relinquished to the British East Africa Association (see Kenya). The sultan formally presented the town in 1898 to the British. It soon became the capital of the British East Africa Protectorate and is the sea terminal of the Uganda Railway, which was started in 1896. Many workers were brought in from British India to build the railway, and the city's fortunes revived. On 1 July 1895 it became part of Britain's Kenya protectorate (the coastal strip nominally under Zanzibari sovereignty).

Mombasa was part of the state of Zanzibar until 12 December 1963 when it was ceded to be incorporated into the newly independent state of Kenya.

On November 28, 2002, a suicide car bomb exploded at the Israeli-owned beachfront Paradise Hotel killing three Israelis and ten Kenyans. About 20 minutes earlier, an (unsuccessful) attempt was made to shoot down an Arkia Israel Airlines Boeing 757 chartered tourist plane taking off from nearby Moi International Airport using surface-to-air missiles; nobody was hurt on the plane, which landed safely in Tel Aviv. The main suspect for both attacks is al Qaeda (see Kenyan hotel bombing).

Geography and climate

Being a coastal town, Mombasa is characterised by a flat topography. The town of Mombasa is centered on Mombasa island, but extends to the mainland. The island is separated from mainland by two creeks, Port Reitz in south and Tudor Creek in north.

Mombasa has a warm, tropical climate. Winter months are slightly warmer than summer. The amount of rainfall depends essentially on season. The rainiest months are April and May, while in January to February the rainfall is minimal.

Economy

Mombasa is a major trade centre and home to Kenya's only large seaport, the Kilindini Harbour. "Kilindini" is an old Swahili term that means "deep". The port is so called because the channel is naturally very deep. Kilindini Harbor is an example of a natural geographic phenomenon called a ria, formed millions of years ago when the sea level rose and engulfed a river that was flowing from the mainland.

Mombasa is the centre of coastal tourism in Kenya. Mombasa island itself is not a main attraction, although many people visit Old Town and Fort Jesus. North of Mombasa island are Nyali, Kenyatta, Bamburi and Shanzu beaches. South of the town there are Shelly, Tiwi and Diani beaches. Several luxury hotels exist on these beaches, while most of cheaper beach hotels are located farther away from the town.

Other local industries include an oil refinery and the Bamburi Cement factory.

Transport

The airport of the city is the Moi International Airport. Mombasa has a railway station and Kenya Railways runs overnight passenger trains from Mombasa to Nairobi, though the service is less extensive than it used to be. Highways connect Mombasa to capital Nairobi, former Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam while northward road link to Malindi and Lamu. Within Mombasa, most local people use Matatus (minibuses) to move between villages and Mombasa Island. Mombasa port is the largest in Kenya but there is little or no scheduled passenger service. International cruise ships frequent the port.

There is no bridge between Mombasa Island and south coast, instead the distance is served by ferries from Kilindini and Mtongwe to Likoni in south coast. Operating ferries are aged. In 1994 a ferry serving Mtongwe route sank, leaving 270 people perished.

Culture

Music

Taarab music, which originates from Zanzibar, has a prominent local presence. Recently, hip hop has become popular, especially among the youth.

Sports

Kenyan Premier League has currently one football team from Mombasa, Bandari F.C. who play at the Mombasa Municipal Stadium. Another team, Coast Stars, relegated from the league. The only Mombasa-based team to win the league is Feisal FC, the 1965 champions.

There are several cricket teams in Mombasa. One of them is Mombasa Sports Club (MSC), whose ground was given ODI status in 2006. MSC has also a rugby union team playing in the Kenya Cup league, the premier rugby competition in Kenya. Mvita XI men and MSC ladies represent Mombasa in Kenyan field hockey leagues.

The 2007 World Cross Country Championships were held in Mombasa. Mombasa Marathon is competed annually in Mombasa. The town also hosts the biennial classic edition of Safari Rally and annually a Kenya National Rally Championship round.

Townships/Areas

Mombasa Island

Kizingo: Considered the prime residential area of Mombasa. The State House & Mombasa Golf Club are in Kizingo. The Aga Khan Academy is an independent school in Kizingo.

Kibokoni: Part of Old Town with Swahili architecture. Fort Jesus is in Kibokoni.

Makadara: Part of Old Town consisting of a high number of descendants of Baluchi soldiers who settled within this area before it developed into a town. The name is derived from the Arabic word Qadr-ur-Rahman meaning fate of God.

Ganjoni: Primarily residential. Middle class.

Tudor: Another middle class residential area with homes and shops.

Outside Mombasa Island

Nyali: Also considered a prime and up-market residential area, it is on the mainland north of the island & is linked by the New Nyali Bridge. It has numerous beach front hotels in the area known as the "North Coast". Nyali has two distinct sections - the posh Old Nyali and the upcoming New Nyali. For many residents, Nyali has now become a self-contained residential area, with a multiplex cinema, shopping malls, banks, schools and post offices. This often eliminates the need for residents to cross the bridge and to go into the congested Mombasa city center. Nyali is home for the Nyali Cinemax complex, the Nyali Golf Club, and some of the most prestigious academic institutions of the Coast Province, examples of which include Oshwal Academy and the Mombasa Academy (both fully-fledged primary and secondary schools) and Tiny Tots Kindergarten (Nyali's oldest and prominent educational institution specialising in early childhood development and education).

Likoni: is a lower class area connected to Mombasa Proper by a ferry. It is south of Mombasa Island and made up of mostly non-Swahili tribes. The ferry was the target of the Likoni Riots of 1997.

Magongo: is an outlying township 10 minutes northwest of Mombasa Island, situated on the Nairobi road. This fringe community lacks any effective electricity, water or sewer systems, with a general lack of infrastructure. Poverty, lack of sanitation, and unemployment continue to be the greatest issues for the Mikindani Township, which have ensured low health and safety standards for its residents. Poor, lower class housing is widespread, ranging from simple stone, two storey structures to mud and earth homes fitted with corrugated iron roofs. Much of the community works outside of the township, within Mombasa Island itself as there is a lack of employment and industry. There are number of small health clinics, shops, and a few public primary schools: Nazarene primary is one school, which is known in particular as being staffed by a revolving volunteer teacher base from Western, and predominately English speaking nations. This small town that serves as a link between the city and Moi International Airport. Magongo is also home to the Akamba Handicraft Cooperative.

Mikindani and Miritini: These are outlying townships on the mainland along the Nairobi road. They are built in the heavy industrial sections of Changamwe and mainly accommodate the working class who either work in the industries, the town centre on the Island and the Port at Kilindini harbor.

Changamwe: Industrial

Bamburi: also an outlying township (fifteen minutes drive) on the way to the town of Malindi. This is area where a cement factory Bamburi is located. Other notable features in the area are Mijikenda public beach and Haller Park, a wildlife conservatory.

Diani Beach a beach resort situated over the Likoni Ferry on the South Coast of Mombasa.

Twin cities

See also

References

External links

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