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A pictorial history of Malindi

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Malindi – a friendly town Malindi is an ancient coastal town, founded around the 1st Century AD. Its original site may have been Mambrui, north of the Sabaki River. Known to the Portuguese as Malinde, it is now the second largest city on the Kenyan Coast after Mombasa. Some say that the name is Swahili for Mali Ndi, meaning a lot of wealth. Others claim that Malindi means ‘holes’ referring to the caves found along the coastline. The town was also fondly called Malindi Mtama, after the sorghum that was produced in large quantities.

Formally an independent Islamic town, Malindi came under the influence of Portuguese in the 16th century for some two hundred years before being ruled by the Sultan of Oman and Zanzibar and later, in the 19th century, the British. Notable visitors to Malindi included the Chinese explorer Cheng Ho during his fifth voyage and the Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, in 1400’s. The Vasco da Gama Pillar and The Portuguese Chapel stand as evidence of the Portuguese period. The town has gone through boom and decline, from a small settlement to a modern city where Kiswahili and a diversity of other languages are easily understood.

The exhibition gives a glimpse of Malindi’s rich history in photographs, covering a wide range of themes. Malindi’s culturally diverse population of Africans, Asians and Europeans (some of whom are featured as prominent personalities), has led to the development of various economic activities from Indian Ocean trade, fishing and agriculture to present day commerce and tourism.

Malindi town lies to the south of the equator. Her populations comprise of Arabs, Swahili, WaGiriama, Bajuni, Indians and Europeans especially Italians. The town is believed to have come into existence about 2,000 years ago as an Arab settlement and trading station. Vasco da Gama was the first known European from Portuguese to visit the town in 1498.

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