[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]If you know the history of Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city, then you will be able to understand and appreciate its rich multicultural diversity. Persians, Chinese, Arabians, Portuguese, Indians, and Europeans have made contact with and left their cultures and imprints on Mombasa. Throw into the mix the local African culture, then you can begin to appreciate the cultural mélange of the city which is best showcased during the annual Mombasa Cultural Festival, popularly referred to as Mombasa Carnival, a multi-cultural street party.
Boasting the largest coastal port in East Africa, Mombasa has been a popular stop off for traders since the 12th century. Once upon a time, it was known as Island of War, following repeated battles between Omani Arabs and the Portuguese who built Fort Jesus in 1593. In the long run, the Brits took over in 1895.
The Mombasa Carnival is the biggest and most engaging festival in Kenya and is organised by the Ministry of Tourism. The event which usually take place in November revolves around two parades which converge on Moi Avenue with Mombasa’s multicultural communities represented by floats, costumes, music and dance.
A mix of traditional and contemporary artistes join the celebration to make it a refreshing introduction to East African cultural diversity. On the streets, several stalls are set up offering food and all kinds of local delicacies, while local brews like mnazi (made from coconut sap) and madafu (fresh coconut milk are drunk freely). Vigorous and energetic traditional dances, as well as contemporary forms and belly dances are performed as local bands and sound systems pump out music into the atmosphere.
Men and women are often dressed in the traditional kikoy and kanga which usually have Swahili maxims and sayings boldly printed at the hem. The events often culminate with an interesting boat regatta on the Indian Ocean as the procession march down to Fort Jesus to the beach. What better way to bring all the fun to a climax than at the beach?
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