The refurbishment of the Omani House
and Mazrui Hall is complete and the official opening on 12th February
was a grand and colourful affair replete with poetry recitation, song, dance and
The function was graced by Government,
NMK and Omani officials and a large number of invited guests. These rooms have
been extensively revamped and there are now many new exhibits that depict
historic and modern day Oman.
One of the star exhibits on the first
floor terrace is a beautifully crafted replica of an ancient Omani Dhow.
Another interesting item on display is
a dinner plate embossed with the sultans crest; part of a dinner service made by
Wedgewood, UK specially commissioned by the Sultans of Zanzibar.
The plate is a donation from FFJ and
dully acknowledged in the caption.
The renovations were fully funded and
overseen by the Sultanate of Oman and they are a welcome improvement to the
We hope this start will catalyse the
much needed renovations and upgrading of other areas of the Fort some of which
have not seen any facelifts for the past 50 years.
There has been a re-shuffle of the
The Principal Curator, Ms. Saadu
Hashim is now the head of the ‘Kenya Heritage Training Institute’ based at the
KHTI is a newly formed organisation
set up to train County staff on Heritage matters.
Ms. Saadu has had a long association
with the Fort, initially as Head of Education and since 2014 as Principal
Over these years she has worked hard
to promote the Fort and we have enjoyed a very cordial working relation and had
the opportunity to implement a number of projects, the most recent being the
Thanks to Saadu’s encouragement the
veranda of the museum building has become a vibrant venue for a plethora of very
interesting temporary exhibitions, some of which were launched with FFJ’s help.
For the upcoming artists these
exhibitions have provided a valuable platform for showcasing their work.
She was closely involved in the
renovations of the Omani House and set up many educational programmes for
schools. An impressive record !
The new Ag, Principal curator is Ms.
Fatma Twahir, an architect by profession who has been involved with MOTCO and is
well versed in conservation matters.
We look forward to continued
cooperation with the Fort and our congratulations to both Saadu and Fatma on
their new appointments.
The Old Town Tour Guides, a group of
30 odd members who operate outside Fort Jesus play an important part in
promoting heritage as they are the link between the tourists and the locals.
But they function under rather basic
In the absence of a fixed abode they
congregate at a corner in the Memorial Gardens.
The guides desperately need an office
that can serve as their base and as an information centre; a facility that is
essential given the large number of visitors who flock this area.
The tour guides are hopeful that the
County Government and NMK will assist with providing them a permanent base.
This will add credibility to the
association and help in offering better services.
While we cannot help with acquiring a
permanent premises, we are pleased to respond to their request by providing them
with twelve chairs.
Brief presentation attended by outgoing and incoming curators, Ms. Saadu
Hashim and Ms. Fatma Twahir respectively, Raphael Igombo of NMK, members
of FFJ and the tour guides.
We had a brief presentation on Friday,
24th February attended by outgoing and incoming curators, Ms. Saadu
Hashim and Ms. Fatma Twahir respectively, Raphael Igombo of NMK, members of FFJ
and the tour guides.
The tour guides were advised to
diversify and offer visitors not just sight-seeing tours but more interesting
eco-tourism packages that provide a more holistic cultural experience that
includes local cuisine, handicrafts, boat rides and exploit the rich cultural
history of the coast.
Our 2017 calendar project has been
very successful and our thanks to all those who helped with the marketing.
We have about 40 left and they are on
offer at a reduced price of 400/=.
If interested please contact any
committee member or email our secretary at
It is gratifying to know that our
activities are of interest to many members of the public.
However we would like to clarify that
while our Tuesday evening talks are open to all, the outings and bird walks are
exclusively for paid up members.
We have had instances where members
have ‘invited’ non-members to our outings and we would like to avoid this in
If any person wishes to join in the
outings they are advised to first become FFJ members and enjoy all the benefits
the society offers. (Taibali Hamzali, Chairman)
Plates and Khangas: Talk by Judy Aldrick - Friday, 17th February
This well-attended evening took place
in the garden of Judy’s daughter in Nyali where we also enjoyed extra lavish
It was a combined arrangement for
friends of Judy and FFJ.
The fee for the biting’s was
generously donated to FFJ. Judy is a founding member of FFJ who has retired in
UK, but when she visits Kenya usually give talks from her long-time experiences
of the coast and its history.
Chinese plates were highly appreciated
by wealthy Arabs, Indians and Swahilis of the Swahili coast long before
Europeans came to the Indian Ocean.
They are popularly known as Zanzibar
plates. Usually rather large, like swallow bowls, originally in blue but later
in bright colours’.
Before they became more common and
cheaper they were often permanently fixed into the walls of Mosques and wealthy
During the 19th century
Europeans started to produce plates in industrial scale, especially in The
Indian merchants in Zanzibar imported
plates, often with their own trademarks and decoration.
After the opening of the Suez channel
in 1869 the import from Europe became massive.
As western habits of eating spread,
the Zanzibar plates fell out of fashion. In the 1980-ties they became
collectable and highly prized in curio shops and bought by tourists.
Judy told us the different stories how
the Khanga was invented and became popular.
America was the first western country
to make a trade deal with Zanzibar and exported plain cotton cloth in huge
quantities to Zanzibar “Merekani” The earlier import of hand-woven cloth from
The import from USA was interrupted by
the American civil war 1860-65 and gave England the opportunity to become a
major exporter of cloth and printed cloths.
Indians in Zanzibar and Mombasa
quickly took advantage of the new fashion of Khanga and started to design
patterns and sayings to be printed.
The multipurpose Khangas are still
very popular and they are spreading over the world.
A sign of that is that the Khanga
draped on the rostrum Judy talked from had a text in English, which none of the
attendance had seen before. (Lars Asker)
Bird Walk at Jumba Ruins, Mtwapa - Saturday, 18th February 2017
We reached Jumba Beach just when the
water level was rising but some sandbanks and blocks of dead corals were
With the help of our binoculars we
could identify a Sooty Gull, Wimbrel and closer to the beach several
Common Sandpipers and a few Grey Plovers were foraging for worms and
insects along the waterline.
While we were watching Dimorphic
Egrets and Reed Cormorants flying past us towards their roosting
grounds, Lesser Crested Terns scanned the water closer to the beach for
some marine life to hunt.
Further South and through our binos we
were able to identify two Sacred Ibis frantically foraging on a
sandbank, which by now was almost covered by the sea and landing next to
them was a lone, not so often spotted, Saunder’s Tern!
Nevertheless we recorded 16 species
including House Crows, a Spotted Flycatcher in the forest and identified
Zanzibar Greenbul and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird by their songs.
Coastweek--Spot the Whimbrel, Grey Plovers,
Lesser Crested Tern, Lesser Sand Plovers and Curlew Sandpiper!
FILE PHOTO: DORIS SCHAULE
Thank you to 6 Friends of Fort Jesus,
who joined on this beach bird walk, for spending Saturday afternoon looking out
for our Winter visitors along the shoreline! (Doris Schaule)
Visit to Kwetu, Mtwapa - Saturday, 25th February 2017
Our group of about 25 had a very
informative and enjoyable afternoon at Kwetu Training Center, a
grassroots not for profit NGO that trains farmers on sustainable ways of
making a living from the forests without destroying them for charcoal
and timber production.
Among the activities Kwetu promotes
are bee keeping, (they market excellent floral and mangrove honey),
soap, candles, oil and other health products from neem, mari culture in
ponds that fill up with sea water with the rising tides and an active
outreach programme to educate farmers on best sustainable practises.
Besides, there are in-house training
facilities that run various courses. We capped the tour with a short
film about Kwetus and their work.
We then proceeded to the roof top
terrace of Ulrike’s and Parvez’s house and enjoyed the spectacular
sunset views over the Mtwapa Creek over a wonderful sun downer.
Neem leaves are dried using
solar power and processed to health products.
PHOTO: TAIBALI HAMZALI
Unfortunately Ulrike could not join us
due to pressing engagement upcountry. Nonetheless, Parvez looked after us
Our thanks to Ulrike, Parvez and the
entire Kwetu team for a wonderful time and their great hospitality.
The Buxton Connection: Talk by Carissa Nightingale - Tuesday, 14th
March at 7.15pm at the Fort
On Thursday, 5th January,
2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta officially opened the Buxton Footbridge, which
crosses the highway in the area of Mombasa Island, called Buxton that is
adjacent to Nyali Bridge.
Why is this area called Buxton and
what is its connection to the unprecedented Act of Parliament, passed in London,
in 1833, which freed all slaves in the British Empire ?
Carissa Nightingale (nee Buxton) will
explain these connections and talk about her illustrious family’s long
commitment to liberty, education and progress in Africa.
This promises to be a fascinating talk
and a chance to learn more about the famous Buxton Family and their role in
shaping Mombasa from none other than a family descendant!
Bird Walk - Saturday, 18th March at Shanzu
This month’s bird walk is at Shanzu.
The meeting point is at the turn off to Serena Hotel, along the Msa – Malindi
Road at 3.00pm sharp.
For further details ring Doris (0722
277752) or check out our Facebook page.
Heritage Visit for schools - Old Town and Fort Jesus - Saturday, 25th
March from 9.00 am at the Fort
It is a year since our last heritage
visit. Unfortunately for the students, we could not arrange a scheduled visit in
October 2016 due to changes in the school timetable and clash with examinations.
This time the students are from
Primary schools from South Coast, namely Tiwi, Waa, Denyenye and Mkumbi.
The programme starts from around 9 am
when the students arrive with an Issa special breakfast followed by a
comprehensive guided tour of the Old Town, Old Port (access permitting) and the
After lunch Hassan will conduct a tour
of the Fort and the programme will end at about 3.30pm.
If any member would like to join us
please feel welcome to do so.
Breakfast and lunch will be provided
for Ksh 250 and 400 respectively.
If you wish to attend please book with
our secretary Madhvi at
email@example.com before 23rd March.
The heritage visits are fully paid for
by FFJ and any contributions from members in cash or kind (exercise books, pens,
drinking water) will be appreciated.