(Work in progress)
Lamu is Kenya’s oldest continually inhabited town and was one of the original Swahili settlements along the East African coast founded in 1370. For centuries, people have been drawn to this unique and enchanting corner of Kenya where life appears to stand still. Lamu town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. Over the years, Lamu has experienced mixed fortunes and today, Lamu County is facing unprecedented upheaval and uncertainty as the port development goes ahead, as well as plans to construct the first coal plant in Kenya.
The people of Lamu are part of the Swahili of the East African coast and a mélange of many groups, including Banjunis, Arabs, Somalis, Indians and other migrant populations. These people will be on the frontline of the changes to come and their resilience and adaptive capacity will be tested. In the face of this impeding upheaval, I feel drawn to say something about who they are, how they live, their culture and traditions.