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Refurbishment Of Omani House And Mazrui Hall Is Complete

Coastweek-- 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 many speeches.

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 Museum.

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 Fort management.

The Principal Curator, Ms. Saadu Hashim is now the head of the ‘Kenya Heritage Training Institute’ based at the RISSEA building.

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 Curator.

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 2017 calendar.

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 arrangements.

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.

Members of FFJ and the tour guides | Coastweek

Coastweek-- 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 future.

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 biting’s.

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 homes.

During the 19th century Europeans started to produce plates in industrial scale, especially in The Netherlands.

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 India dipped.

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 still exposed!

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.


Bird Walk at Jumba Ruins, Mtwapa | Coastweek

  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.


Visit to Kwetu, Mtwapa | Coastweek

  Coastweek-- 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 exceedingly well.

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 Butterfly House.

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 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.

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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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