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Elgeyo Marakwet County Kerio Valley F.I.S. ‘World Heritage’ Site

Coastweek-- Kenya has another site inscribed by UNESCO under World Heritage Site listing, NEWSLETTER NOTES FROM FRINEDS OF FORT JESUS.

The Marakwet Furrow Irrigation System in Kerio Valley in Elgeyo Marakwet County has been recognised as “a testimony to a civilisation that has transformed lives.”

The Marakwet people have developed a unique system of furrows on the steep escarpments to provide water for irrigation, human and animal consumption in an area where water is scarce.

The trough shaped furrows are made from stones and timber, using age old techniques.

UNESCO adds “the use of furrows for irrigation is a demonstration of the mastery of their harsh environment and harnessing water for irrigation is a survival technique adopted by these people”

However, it is not just the furrows that are unique but also the manner in which they are managed by the various clans who own and depend on it.

“The Marakwet people has set taboos to ensure that the furrows are not damaged or abused. Due to this the irrigation system has withstood the test of time” says UNESCO.

The right to water is mutually respected.

A non-bureaucratic system of water management allows clans to borrow and share water. 

The WHS listing will no doubt attract more tourists to the scenic Kerio Valley.

There are plans by the tourism sector to open camps.

At the same time the furrows are under threat from modern agriculture methods taking root in parts of the escarpment.

The management of this fragile ecosystem site therefore requires delicate approach.

Statistics on marine pollution indicate that some 12 million tons of plastics are disposed to the oceans every year.

Of that only 14 per cent is recycled.

The rest ends on beaches and in the stomachs of sea animals and birds that feed from the oceans.

If plastic pollution is not curbed its effect on marine life will be devastating.

In Lamu, a dhow project, dubbed ‘FlipFlopi’, was started in 2016 essentially to demonstrate how plastics can be recycled and to inspire others to come up with innovative ways of reusing plastic waste.

Built from 45 tons of plastic collected from Lamu’s beaches the 18 metre long dhow was launched this early this month, with much fanfare.

Lamu’s dhow making tradition goes back hundreds of years.

The FlipFlopi construction adopts the ancient techniques still practised by traditional boat builders.

The same craftsmen who have been building dhows using only timber made the all plastic FlipFlopi.

The boats structural skeleton including the keel and ribs are made from moulded plastic.

The hull and deck are faced in colourful flip flops and its dramatic shimmering sail is woven from thousands of strands of plastic.

The colourful eye catching FlipFlopi is set to sail along the East African coast and South Africa with a crew of 20 made up of plastic ambassadors, cameramen and conservationists.

It will be a beacon for raising awareness among the law makers, manufacturing companies and public on the need for sustainable and responsible use and disposal of plastic waste.

Congratulations to all who made this possible!

Our 40th AGM marks 40 years of the society’s existence.

This is a milestone moment for us and hope you will make a special effort to attend.

Best wishes to our Hindu members on the occasion of ‘Navratri’ festival (nine nights of dancing) that is presently under way and a Happy Diwali and New Year that will be celebrated on 7th and 8th November. (Taibali Hamzali, Chairman)


Saturday, 15th September - Bird Walk at Nguunu Nature Sanctuary

It is always good to be back at the birding hot spot of Mombasa North and as usual expect the unexpected !

Already on our way up to the sundowner picnic site we logged 3 species: Long-tailed Fiscal, White-browed Coucal and Water Thick-knee; these belong to the more usual species at Nguuni !

Not so common are Madagascar Bee-eater, of which we watched about 12, some showing off their acrobatic skills and others preening themselves.

This bee-eater species from the South visits us from around July to September.

We visited the ponds to the North and the lily-ponds in search of waterfowl but only flushed a Black Crake !

One sharp-eyed member spotted a Greater Blue-eared Starling, quite rare to see at Nguuni nowadays and we all had to put our binos to good use in order to find a Verreaux Eagle Owl well camouflaged in the foliage of a doumpalm !


  Coastweek-- Madagascar Bee-eater. PHOTO: DORIS SCHAULE

Some House Crows had given it’s position away by hovering above the trees and trying to dislodge the owl. 

After 2 hours we had spotted and identified 26 precious species in this part of Nguuni alone.

On the way out I couldn’t resist to pay a visit to a more hidden pond and believe you me…approx. 100 White-faced Whistling Ducks and 11 not so common Fulvous Whistling Ducks seemed to have a get-together.

What a sight!

Last but not least, a Long-crested Eagle in the distance, watched us heading to the exit!

There is just no end to the surprises one can enjoy on a bird walk! (Doris Schaule)

Tuesday, 25th September at 7.15pm - ‘Waste to Art’: Illustrated talk by Julie Myra, WMA

Julie started with an overview of Watamu Marine Watch and the work they do.

One of their core activities is ‘EcoWorld’ a waste management centre that we visited recently.

The clean-up programme is so successful that there is now a scramble for waste at Watamu and flip flops are in short supply !

This is because the locals who have become aware of the income potential of waste are scavenging the beach with gusto.

Besides EcoWorld there are many individuals in Watamu who have ventured on their own to produce beautiful objects from waste and this in itself is an inspiring story.

Julie spoke about the Waste Education Programmes that she runs at EcoWorld.

Students from Kindergartens to University are invited to the centre for a hands on experience on how to make useful objects and artwork from waste.

The older generations, perhaps not too artistically orientated, are taught how to generate cash from waste.

This helps to inculcate better waste management, generates some cash and helps to curb pollution.

We saw how building blocks are made from plastic and glass bottles.

This technology is spreading fast and there are now a number of private houses built in this way.

The locals realise the cost benefits and understand that waste is a resource.

Eco world were asked to consider holding a similar workshop for Mombasa schools in conjunction with Fort Jesus Education Department to raise awareness in waste management.

We also hope Eco-world will have an exhibition of their products made from waste so that his important message of responsible waste management is spread to a wider audience.

Julie came with a range of products that are marketed by EcoWorld.

Thanks to Julie for travelling all the way from Watamu and her excellent and inspiring presentation.


Tuesday, 14th October at 7.00pm at Fort - EGM and AGM

Notices for the meetings and agendas have been sent earlier by our secretary.

The Extra Ordinary Meeting will precede the AGM.

As there is only one item on the agenda we expect this will be brief.

After the AGM business there will be refreshments, courtesy of FFJ, followed by screening of a short documentary film, ‘Haunt of the Fishing Owl’.

Fishing Owls are rare nocturnal species with a wing span of 5 feet making them one of the world’s largest predators.

This is a National Geographic production, spectacularly filmed, in the un-spoilt wilderness of Burundi’s Coco banga river delta and lagoons.

The AGM is an important date in our calendar when we take stock of the past year. We hope you will all make a special effort to attend.

Saturday, 20th October - Bird walk at Vipingo Ridge

This month’s bird walk is at Vipingo Ridge. Meeting point is at the gate at 2.45pm to clear security protocols in time for start of walk at 3.00pm. Please carry your ID documents.

Vipingo Ridge sustains a large variety of birdlife and this promises to be an exciting afternoon.

For more information see our Facebook page or contact Doris Schaule Tel: 0722 277752. Email:

Saturday, 27th October - Outing: Rabai Cultural Festival for ‘Mwaka Muphya’

Mwaka Muphya is an important cultural event that marks the beginning of the Rabai community’s New Year.

This year festivities will be held at the grounds of the Dr. Krapf Memorial Museum.

There will be plenty of activities showcasing the Rabai culture; dances, exhibitions of local handicrafts and produce, fashion show, games competitions and food stalls selling local delicacies.

We shall also officially ‘hand over’ the benches that FFJ sponsored.

Meeting point is at the Museum car park at 10.30am. If you are interested in joining and/or would like a seat in shared transport (at about 1,300/= pp., assuming full van) please inform

Kalim Hassanali:  Email: or by SMS 0735 209 814 before 25th October.

Tuesday, 30th October at 7.15pm at Fort - Book Launch and Talk
by Judy Aldrick on ‘Sir Ali bin Salim and the making of Mombasa’

We are delighted to welcome back Judy Aldrick for the launch of her latest book on the life of Sir Ali bin Salim, published by Old Africa.

This is the latest addition to several books that Judy has written on the history of Kenya and prominent personalities of the past.

About the book: Sir Ali bin Salim (c1870-1940) was a distant relative and representative of the Sultan of Zanzibar.

He was born in Malindi and rose to prominence under the Colonial Regime succeeding his father as Liwali of the Coast.

His public life was sometimes controversial as he struggled to provide leadership for the Coastal people and work with the Colonial officials to maintain peace and prosperity in Mombasa.

His chief legacy is the many institutions, schools and public works, which owe their existence to his generosity and foresight - several of which are still serving the tow today.

It was due to his enthusiastic support for town planning and road building that Mombasa emerged fit for the modern era and was able to become the major port and metropolis it is today.

He gave land and endowments and helped wherever he could.

His name continues to resonate in Mombasa and he is deservedly considered to be the most famous Coastal Leader of his era.

Copies of book will be available for sale after the talk and Judy will be there for book signing.

All of Judy’s talks have always been very popular and we look forward to an interesting and well attended event.

Remember: you read it first at !


Please contact

MOMBASA - GULSHAN JIVRAJ, Mobile: 0722 775164 Tel: (+254) (41) 2230130 /
Wireless: 020 3549187 e-mail:

NAIROBI - ANJUM H. ASODIA, Mobile: 0733 775446 Tel: (+254) (020) 3744459

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