History of Mombasa
The founding of Mombasa is associated with two rulers: Mwana Mkisi (female) and Shehe Mvita. According to oral history and medieval commentaries, Shehe Mvita superseded the dynasty of Mwana Mkisi and established his own town on Mombasa Island. Shehe Mvita is remembered as a Muslim of great learning and so is connected more directly with the present ideals of Swahili culture that people identify with Mombasa. The ancient history associated with Shehe Mvita and the founding of an urban settlement on Mombasa Island is still linked to present-day peoples living in Mombasa. The Thenashara Taifa (or Twelve Nations) Swahili lineages recount this ancient history today and are the keepers of local Swahili traditions. Even though today Mombasa is a very heterogeneous cultural mix, families associated with the Twelve Nations are still considered the original inhabitants of the city.
Most of the early information on Mombasa comes from Portuguese chroniclers writing in the 16th century. The famous Moroccan scholar and traveller Ibn Battuta did visit Mombasa in 1331 on his travels on the eastern coast of Africa and made some mention of the city, although he only stayed one night. He noted that the people of Mombasa were Shãfi'i Muslims, "a religious people, trustworthy and righteous. Their mosques are made of wood, expertly built."
The city has a population of 939,370, as per the 2009 census,and is located on Mombasa Island, which is separated from the mainland by two creeks: Tudor Creek and Kilindini Harbour. The island is connected to the mainland to the north by the Nyali Bridge, to the south by the Likoni Ferry and to the west by the Makupa Causeway, alongside which runs the Kenya-Uganda Railway. The port serves both Kenya and countries of the interior, linking them to the Ocean. The city is served by Moi International Airport located in the northwest mainland suburb of Chaani, northwest of Changamwe area.
Being a coastal town, Mombasa is characterised by a flat topography. The town of Mombasa is centered on Mombasa Island, but extends to the mainland. The island is separated from the mainland by two creeks, Port Reitz in the south and Tudor Creek in the north.
Mombasa is a major trade centre and home to Kenya's only large seaport, the Kilindini Harbour. Kilindini is an old Swahili term meaning "deep". The port is so called because the channel is naturally very deep. Kilindini Harbor is an example of a natural geographic phenomenon called a ria, formed millions of years ago when the sea level rose and engulfed a river that was flowing from the mainland.
Driving in Mombasa is straight-forward and the majority of the roads are tarmacked. Main roads include; Jomo Kenyatta Avenue, Digo Road, Nyerere Road, Nkurumah Road, Moi Avenue, Mama Ngina Drive, Barack Obama Road, Nairobi Highway and Nyali Road. Highways connect Mombasa to Nairobi, Dar es Salaam while northward road link to Malindi and Lamu, which also extends towards the border with Somalia.
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Kizingo: Considered the prime residential area of Mombasa. The State House Mombasa,Provincial Headquarters, The Mombasa Law Courts, The Municipal Council are located in Kizingo. The Aga Khan Academy, Aga Khan High School, Serani Primary School, Serani High School, Santokben Nursery School, Coast Academy, Mombasa Primary School, Loreto Convent, Mama Ngina Girls' High School and the Government Training Institute (GTI) Mombasa are all part of Kizingo.
2. North Coast
Nyali: Also considered a prime and up-market residential area, it is on the mainland north of the island and is linked by the New Nyali Bridge. It has numerous beach front hotels in the area known as the "North Coast". Nyali has two distinct sections - the posh Old Nyali and the upcoming New Nyali. For many residents, Nyali has now become a self-contained residential area, with two Nakumatts, a multiplex cinema, shopping malls, banks, schools and post offices. This often eliminates the need for residents to cross the bridge and to go into the congested Mombasa city center. Nyali is home for the Nyali Cinemax complex, Mamba Village, the Nyali Golf Club, and some of the most prestigious academic institutions of the Coast Province.
3. South Coast
Likoni: is a lower income and lower middle class neighborhood connected to Mombasa Island by ferry. It is south of Mombasa Island and made up of mostly non-Swahili tribes. The ferry was the target of the Likoni Riots of 1997.
Magongo: is an outlying township 20 minutes driving distance northwest of Mombasa Island, situated on the Nairobi Highway. This fringe community lacks any effective electricity, water or sewer systems, with a general lack of infrastructure. Poverty, lack of sanitation, and unemployment continue to be the greatest issues for the Mikindani Township, which have ensured low health and safety standards for its residents. Poor, lower class housing is widespread, ranging from simple stone, two storey structures to mud and earth homes fitted with corrugated iron roofs. Much of the community works outside of the township, within Mombasa Island itself as there is a lack of employment and industry. There are number of small health clinics, shops, and a few public primary schools: Nazarene primary is one school, which is known in particular as being staffed by a revolving volunteer teacher base from Western, and predominately English speaking nations. This small town that serves as a link between the city and Moi International Airport. Magongo is also home to the Akamba Handicraft Cooperative.
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