Three times a year my parents and I would embark on a 470km journey from Nairobi to Mombasa for our family vacation. The road was bumpy, the car was hot, but the anticipation of seeing that beautiful ocean would keep us going.
I’ve always had a fascination with the ocean. The way the current moves you and the sound of the waves crashing upon the shore. The vastness of the ocean and how all encompassing it is. The way it makes you feel so small.
As a child I was often scared of the water. I would imagine it sucking me away, never to be heard of again. Still, I was tempted by its beauty.
Mombasa is a coastal town with a history richer than the deep African soil in the Sahara.
Many people have been attracted to those shores. Some of them never left.
The Indian Ocean, a warm, inviting water connecting east and west, was traversed by many a sailor.
Thanks to that ocean we have many of the spices we eat today: cardamom, turmeric, coriander, cumin.
The spices, just like the city itself, are bold, vibrant and colorful. Mombasa’s history involved the Arabic merchants, trading gold, the Portuguese explorers bringing religion (Fort Jesus still stands today), and the Sultanate of Oman, who also brought religion, and later the British empire.
But no one can control that which is wild and beautiful.
While the influence is there on the streets of Mombasa town, I can still stand on her beautiful beach and look out at the same waters that Vasco Da Gama looked upon. I can imagine the way he felt when he landed upon these plush white sands.
At turbulent times in my life, I could always find relief in those waters.
It was my spiritual place, a time where my family would get together and relax by the sea. It was peaceful, beautiful and wild. Untamed by the humans that tried to tame it.
The culture that is Mombasa town is the same deep rooted, mixed up culture that is within me.
To this day if I travel to Mombasa, I feel a warmth swell in my heart. I hope I will make my way back to her warm shores soon.
Palipo na amani mungu yupo.
Where there is peace God is present.