92 – Maulidi (or Maulid Nabi Festival)

Fri 26th Feb, Lamu Castle Lodge, Lamu, Kenya
Now i have intentionally timed my Lamu visit to coincide with this festival, which celebrates the birth of the Prophet and is celebrated in a big way here in Lamu. Unfortunately, there was going to be only a small celebration today. The festival which incorporates other maulids will peak at the end of the 3rd month in the muslim calendar, rabiul awal, and will feature dhow shows and donkey races. I would have to contend today with just joyous celebration in the streets. 😉

Note: There are a couple of vids that is taking forever to download. i’ll put it here later on. cheers

In the morning, i spent time exploring more museums. There were four or five on the island, but i just did the Lamu Museum (500 KSH, with entry in Lamu Fort as well). It wasn’t as well kept or spectacular as the Zanzibari one, and i was the only tourist in the 2 storey building. But it still provided an insight into the life on Lamu island back then, as well as the Swahili culture.The Fort itself was located in front of the town centre, and was used more for events and meetings. There was some sort of team building thing in the meeting hall when i was there.

After 4.30pm, the celebrations started. The procession started at the southern part of the town, going up north along the main street, then looping down along the seafront road before hitting inland towards the Riyadha mosque. Actually it was many processions, not one. Each group of revelers were from a madrasah, or religious school, and were led by their teachers. Along the way, they played their kompangs (i forgot what these things were called in swahili, so im using the malay word for them!) and sang praises, all the while jumping around and making merry. It was a competition too, with the madrasah groups all trying to outdo each other with the best performance in front of a judge.

Everyone then congregated in front of the main mosque, where some speeches were given in Arabic and Swahili. Quite a lot of people from town were gather there. It was a really friendly affair. And this was the mini-celebration. For the big ones in a couple of weeks, visitors from all over East Africa will make their way to Lamu.

At night, the guy at the hotel tells me he found the fellow who stole his engines. Going back a little, 2 days ago i was in conversation on the balcony of the lodge, and this guy proceeds to tell me about his big plans to make money (all Africans are budding entrepeneurs, true story) by buying a boat, outfitting them with twin15 horsepower engines from Dubai, and converting it to a deep-sea fishing boat. There was money to be made here in sport fishing. The foreigners who come here are restricted to only one option on Sheila beach, with Peponi hotel. So this guy with all his savings got the two engines and shipped them here, took the difficult route from mainland to transport his boat to Lamu.

Unfortunately his engines were stolen off the boat a few days after. The thief was undoubtedly still around, hiding the engines somewhere, since news would spread if someone is selling brand new engines. The guy asked around in Mombasa and Malindi as well over the next couple weeks, but no news. Then today afternoon, i tagged along with him for Friday prayers, before splitting so i can catch the procession. He, on the other hand, went into a provision shop and overheard this man talking to a prospective customer about two particular engines. My friend knew this guy too, he was the one who brings him to shore in a small boat when he anchors his boat in deeper waters. The  thief gave an “OH  f&^@ look” but my friend didn’t raise hell then. Instead he let the fellow go, he now can put a face to the thief, even though he doesn’t know where the engines are hidden. He would arrange for a peaceful resolution, and his father would mediate with the thief’s employer. If he gets the engines back, then case closed, and he won’t pursue the matter. Otherwise, he will bring in the police again.

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One comment

  • Anonymous November 8, 2011   Reply →

    Thanks for this account. I am Kenyan needed some information on the Lamu Maulid coz I have never been there. I wish you had said something about the blowing of the 'siwa' instrument and how it is kept safe by the museum

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