Old Mombasa

I walk the streets of old Mombasa, looking for the Portuguese and Arab ghosts who fought and died to take or hold this ocean port, but ghosts defer to those who live and walk the streets, or sit in stalls to ply their trade. Twelve hundred years ago the Arabs came to trade in slaves and spices from the east. Strategic to their goals, the port, an enclave drew the Arab culture and black slaves who intermarried and from which Swahili grew. This ancient city rose, was razed, and rose again. in bloody cycle of dispute between the Portuguese and Arab traders who sought control of Indian trade and local slaves to feed their appetite for wealth. Not much is left of these disputes, a testament to man’s and time’s destructive might. The nineteenth century survives in streets and walls and doors of buildings from that time, but Fort Jesus is all that’s left of prior times. The blood of Arab traders still survives among the crowds who walk the potholed streets, and live behind the doors of iron studded wood, half-timbered broken corral walls, and rubble piled among the shops and stalls. White Kanzu, saris bright, and black chador, printed Kanga cloths, dresses, shirts, and slacks speak of many cultures living here among the streets of old Mombasa. Of Portugal, we found no sign except cold stone at Fort Jesus.
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved

Old Mombasa

I walk the streets of old Mombasa, looking for the Portuguese and Arab ghosts who fought and died to take or hold this ocean port, but ghosts defer to those who live and walk the streets, or sit in stalls to ply their trade. Twelve hundred years ago the Arabs came to trade in slaves and spices from the east. Strategic to their goals, the port, an enclave drew the Arab culture and black slaves who intermarried and from which Swahili grew. This ancient city rose, was razed, and rose again. in bloody cycle of dispute between the Portuguese and Arab traders who sought control of Indian trade and local slaves to feed their appetite for wealth. Not much is left of these disputes, a testament to man’s and time’s destructive might. The nineteenth century survives in streets and walls and doors of buildings from that time, but Fort Jesus is all that’s left of prior times. The blood of Arab traders still survives among the crowds who walk the potholed streets, and live behind the doors of iron studded wood, half-timbered broken corral walls, and rubble piled among the shops and stalls. White Kanzu, saris bright, and black chador, printed Kanga cloths, dresses, shirts, and slacks speak of many cultures living here among the streets of old Mombasa. Of Portugal, we found no sign except cold stone at Fort Jesus.
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved