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This is a must attend festival that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Mombasa in itself is one of those places I can’t get enough of. Once, twice, numerous times is never enough.Everything from the amazing beaches, to the beauty that is the Indian Ocean, to the diverse cultures that live there, to the well preserved historical places like Fort Jesus, the list is endless. When I heard about the cultural event, and knowing how I am really attracted to cultures, I bent backwards to ensure that I got to attend it. I am very glad I did as I got to experience the below.

A) Borana Culture

I hardly knew much about the Borana community before this, so  seeing them exposing their culture was outstanding. They out did themselves in showcasing various elements of their culture from their food, clothing, music and dance among others. They are also pastoralists by nature and thus revere livestock. Being a conservative community the women will normally be decked in long flowing dresses while all the women who are married would have their hair covered with a scarf or shawl.

With ladies of the Borana community in Mombasa, Kenya
Enjoying “Tor”, a Borana traditional drink in Mombasa, Kenya
With Jamila enjoying sampling Tor during Mombasa Cultural Festival in Mombasa, Kenya

Their dances are graceful, very little vigour or chest thumping as is common in most Kenyan communities. When the men and women dance together, there is no body contact though they seem like they are hugging or should I call them flying hugs.They then had the “creme de la creme” in my view, a young girl and a young boy in the dance troupe who danced, smiled and talked to people. One is never too young to learn their culture and it was a great sight watching these young ones being actively involved in showcasing their culture. I clearly need to return and interact more with the Borana in their natural setting/homes to get a complete  integration. If you know anyone, have a relative or can hook a sister up-let me know.

This group exposed us to their music and dance, and what a great experience it was.

These Borana men showcased their music and dance during the Mombasa Cultural Festival in Kenya

The Borana women carrying the traditional “thermos” used to carry milk or water

b)Local Delicacies

Sample any and everything you come across.You have not been to Mombasa if you haven’t heard or seen “mnazi” otherwise called palm tree. It is however famous for the local brew ‘mnazi” or “Uchi” as the locals call it, that is made from its fruit. It is drank traditionally from a traditional alcohol cup called “mboko” and “mritza” which is the traditional straw.Thanks to the below lady for taking time to educate me on some of the Mijikenda culture. Mijikenda community is made up of nine tribes and is the largest group in Mombasa.

Mnazi is drank in these traditional cup called Mboko in Mombasa, Kenya
A mboko used as a traditional cup for the mnazi drink and mritza which is the traditional straw

Sample the “Mhogo” crisps, otherwise known as cassava crisps that are prepared as you watch. The cassava is peeled, the pieces are cut and it is fried all as you watch. One then gets to choose if they want it salted or with chili. I can never have enough.

Mhogo crisps made from the cassava plant, are prepared as you wait,Mombasa, Kenya

3)Learn how to cook

The meals in Mombasa are famous for being delicious and most are known to use coconut as an ingredient. In this case, most of the coconut milk used here is prepared fresh and not store bought. An instrument called “mbuzi” is used to scrape  “kuna” the coconut. One sits on one side of the mbuzi instrument and uses the razor sharp edge to scrape off the coconut. The shavings are then placed in  another instrument, water is then added and then the mixture is squeezed out to make liquid coconut or coconut milk/syrup which is then used to cook various meals like rice,stews among others. It is really an interesting process to watch as these ladies showcased to us while they prepared meals.

This is called a mbuzi and is used to scrape coconut shavings from the coconut plant
Lady using mbuzi at Mombasa Cultural Festival, Kenya
A lady using “mbuzi” to scarpe coconut shavings from the coconut plant
Making coconut milk at Mombasa Cultural Festival
A lady making coconut milk during the Mombasa Cultural Festival, Kenya

4)Enjoy traditional Dances:

There were dances in plenty from the wide array of Kenyan tribes and more so from the dominant community in the coastal area which is the Mijikenda . Their dances are quite vigorous with the women mainly shaking their shoulders and waist while the men shake their shoulders and feet. Even the rains would not dampen their spirits, I was thoroughly entertained.

A Mijikenda traditional song and dance being showcased at the Mombasa Cultural Festival, Kenya
Mijikenda cultural dances being showcased during the Mombasa Cultural Festival in Kenya.

5) Enjoy the Indian Ocean:

The Mombasa Cultural Festival 2015 was held at Mama Ngina Drive which is near the Indian Ocean. One can thus attend both the Festival while getting a chance to also enjoy viewing the Indian Ocean and the ships on it.

A view of the Indian Ocean from the Mombasa Cultural Festival area

The Mombasa Cultural Festival is indeed a must attend festival. There is so much culture on display and you will indeed leave having learnt lots about the various communities that live there.  Mombasa Cultural Festival, thank you for having me and making my trip so worth it.  For related article on Mombasa, kindly check out:

Mombasa: http://wangechigitahi.co.ke/9-fun-things-to-do-in-mombasa/


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  1. Brilliant post ,been to Mombasa and loved every minute of it,unfortunately never had a chance to enjoy the cultural week as l was there in November.

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