Malindi Town

Malindi Town, Kenya : Kenya a country in East Africa famously known for its world-class safaris is a beautiful place to visit on vacation. The country has welcoming people who will always greet you with the a smile , great wildlife safaris, abundant wildlife in various National parks and reserves across the country and its white sand beach along the shores of Indian Ocean. On Kenya’s coast of the Indian Ocean lies a town called Malindi, which is located on Malindi Bay at the mouth of the Sabaki River. The distance from Mombasa to it is 120 kilometres. It is one of the Kenyan coastal towns to enjoy the beauty scenic views of the white sand beaches after a wild safari in Maasai Mara National Reserve, Amboseli National Park or any of the Kenyan  National parks and reserves. Malindi is in Kilifi County, it is the county major urban centre.

Malindi’s main industry is tourism. The city is well-liked by visitors from Italy. The Vasco da Gama Pillar, the Portuguese Chapel, the House of Columns, and the Malindi Museum Heritage Complex are notable attractions within the town. A domestic airport and a road connecting Mombasa and Lamu serve Malindi. South of Malindi are the adjacent Watamu resort and the Gedi Ruins also known as Gede. Northern Malindi is where the Sabaki River empties into the ocean.

South of Malindi, a continuous protected coastline area is formed by the Watamu and Malindi Marine National Parks. Classic examples of Swahili architecture can be seen there. The majority of people in Malindi are Muslims.

The History of Malindi Town

In the fifth through to the tenth centuries, Malindi flourished as a part of the developing Swahili Civilization. Bantu-speaking farmers settled in the region, where they spoke a regional dialect of Kiswahili, smelted iron, built timber and wattle huts thatched with palm leaves, and occasionally conducted long-distance trade. Larger settlements, more long-distance trade, and a more complex social structure were the results of the revival of the Indian Ocean trade networks around the end of the first millennium. The Swahili along the coast began serving as middlemen for Somali, Egyptian, Nubian, Arab, Persian, and Indian traders in the eleventh century. Elites converted to Islam and started to build coral houses and walled villages. They also frequently spoke Arabic.

The Malindi Kingdom is thought to have been founded around the ninth century AD and to have developed in strength throughout the two centuries prior to Vasco da Gama’s introduction of Portuguese colonial rule, which brought about the collapse of the civilisation. The city of Malindi, which was established around 850 AD and thought to have been destroyed in 1000 AD, was situated somewhat further north than the current town. The next two centuries show little evidence of human occupancy, but the 1200s see a revival and a period of affluence.

Abu al-Fida in the period between 1273 to 1331, who was  a Kurdish geographer and historian, is most likely the earliest author to have mentioned modern-day Malindi. Malindi, according to his description, is located south of a river’s mouth that rises in a mountain hundreds of miles away. It’s possible that this mountain is Mount Kenya, the source of the Galana River. As a result, Malindi has been inhabited by Swahili people since at least the 13th century. Malindi has historically been a port city, once rivalling Mombasa for power in this region of East Africa. The Zheng He fleet, led by the Chinese explorer, stopped at the village in 1414. The monarch of Malindi dispatched a personal envoy on that ship along with a giraffe as a gift to China.

When he erected a padro now known as the Vasco da Gama Pillar, the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama met Malindi authorities in 1498 to establish a trade deal and hire a guide for the voyage to India. In contrast to the angry reception he received in Mombasa, Vasco da Gama received a gracious welcome from the Sultan of Malindi. It is a well-liked tourism destination for both domestic and foreign visitors.

Malindi had a thriving economy with a population of between 5,000 and 10,000 in 1498.By this time, the bulk of the populace had converted to Islam, primarily between the 13th and the 14th centuries. The chiefs of the wealthiest patrician families constituted up the ruling class, or wazee, in mediaeval Swahili towns like this one. These clan chiefs elected a mwenye mui, or chief, who represented the patricians, just like other Bantu-speaking peoples. The Portuguese misunderstood the nature of Swahili political organisation and called these people “Kings,” calling them by the wrong name. The wazee claimed legendary ancestry from the East, typically Persia, and spoke both Swahili and Arabic.

The export of agricultural goods such rice, coconuts, oranges, millet, and rhino horns, as well as ivory and rhino horn, was Malindi’s main source of income. Malindi was a regional power in the years before the arrival of the Portuguese, although it lagged well behind the two biggest states, Mombasa and Kilwa. The wazee, who wanted to use the Portuguese military strength to establish themselves over their competitors in Mombasa, were happy to welcome the Portuguese when they established a trading post in Malindi in 1499 that functioned as a rest stop on the journey to and from India. Malindi was granted vassal status by King Dom Manuel I in 1500. In 1505, Malindi assisted Portugal in its victorious conquest of Kilwa and Mombasa.

The Portuguese built a factory in Malindi in 1502, and it remained there until 1593. Malindi grew as a result of Kilwa and Mombasa’s downfall. Malindi expanded as more and more Swahili, Arab, Persian, and Indian craftspeople, labourers, and sailors migrated to the suddenly powerful city. Before the Portuguese shifted their main base to Mombasa in 1593, Malindi remained the hub of Portuguese activities in eastern Africa. The Segejus and the Sheikh of Malindi assisted in making this possible. Malindi helped Portugal win Kilwa and Mombasa as the country’s principal ally in East Africa along the Swahili Coast. As they competed for control of the trade, the two Swahili city republics frequently engaged in conflict with one another. The Sheikh of Malindi teamed up with the Portuguese and Segejus to conquer Mombasa in his military campaigns. Mombasa was conquered by the Segejus in 1592, who eventually gave it over to the Sheikh of Malindi. From 1593 to 1630, the Sheikh reigns from Mombasa after moving his court from Malindi. He invites his allies, the Portuguese, to construct a garrison during this time, and they take control of the town.

Malindi Town
Malindi Town

The town started to decay once the Portuguese left, and by the end of the 17th century, it had almost completely vanished. A United Kingdom Navy chart of “Melinda” from 1823 said that, except from Vasco da Gama’s Pillar, there were “no vestiges of the once splendid city of Melinda” at the time. When Ludwig Krapf visited the town in 1845, he discovered it to be deserted and overgrown with plants. Before Francis Xavier’s visit in 1542, a Portuguese chapel with a cemetery had already been constructed. The Juma Mosque and castle on the seashore are two of the many Swahili-built structures still standing today. Sultan Majid of Zanzibar re-founded Malindi in 1861, and it was used as a hub for the slave trade up until the end of the 19th century. The area of occupation at that time can be seen on a town plan from 1873. Malindi was governed by the British after the abolition of the slave trade and slavery in 1890. A considerable drop in agricultural output resulted from this action. At the start of the 20th century, Malindi had a small number of enterprises outside from agriculture, including those that produced mats and bags, crushed sesame seeds for oil, and tembo, a popular Swahili beverage. Malindi became a town formally in 1903. Ten years later, there were around 1148 people living there, 843 of them from Africa, 230 Arabs, 67 Asians, and 8 Europeans.

Between the end of World War I and 1925, when a famine struck, Malindi saw a surge in trade. By 1924, exports to foreign ports had increased to $26,000. In the 1930s, Europeans began to settle back in Malindi by purchasing land from Arabs. Some of them, like Commander Lawford, created the first lodging establishments, which later served as the cornerstone of the  kenya tourism sector. Malindi was one of just two towns in East Africa that the Italians bombarded during World War II. This occurred on October 24th, 1940, and then, until the end of the war, allied troops were stationed in the town. Following World War II, Malindi started to transform into a resort city.

book a trip