I think the first time I heard Kisite Mpunguti was when I was going through OneTouch live photos and saw @mwarv‘s shot of the beautiful island by his drone camera. At first I felt ashamed and sad that all my life I had lived at the coast but had never visited this paradise. I quickly googled it up and the images that I saw on the screen blew my mind instantly. I marvelled on seeing a dolphin and there and then I knew this was my next destination.
Where would we, sorry I, be really without the internet? I checked google maps and found out the island was roughly 60km south of Mombasa. I knew the road would be rough since I had been to south coast before, so I used a 4*4 and set out for the journey. As usual I don’t wake up early and thus started the road trip at 9.00 AM. Later on I would discover that was a very bad decision. We crossed the ferry as usual but the jam to get to Likoni was crazy. After an hour or so we made it through. South coast is just chilled and calm and driving past Diani brought back so many memories. We got lost a couple of times but we finally got the road that led to the island. The road was really poor, and I mean really really poor. I don’t think you can get to the Island with a vitz using that dirt road. A few kilometers down the road and we got to Shimoni.
Shimoni is a major historical site. This was where the slaves were kept before being shipped to Europe or Asia. I bet Django must have been at Shimoni before making his way to the USA. The caves were pretty dark and creepy and you could feel the pain still lingering on the walls. Being a Pan Africanist, it made me appreciate my roots more and a tour down the caves made me appreciate the struggle black people have endured. A very kind gentleman called Hassan Mbwana made our stop there very worthwhile. Hassan is a local at Shimoni and owns a company that provides tours in the island. I asked if we could get to see dolphins. The answer Hassan gave broke all my heart. He explained to visit Kisite Mpunguti you had to wake up at the crack of dawn and get the boat ride to the island. The boat will then go to tides where you could be able to view the dolphins. We asked for a solution since we had really travelled from far (north coast to South coast). He said we could visit Wasini Island(*not Shimoni Island) which was the closest island that was closest to the mainland. We had no option but to take the offer.
We got in a canoe and started the voyage to Wasini Island. The mainland and island are separated by a Kilometer of the Indian Ocean. Mpare hills which are in Tanzania could be seen and our tour guide told us guys cross into Tanzania everyday.
We finally docked in Wasini Island and the rich and diverse culture just took me by surprise. The natives speak a very distinctive language. The native tribe is called Wavumba (in Swahili language Vumba is sort of basket used to carry food). Their language is a mixture of Digo and Arab languages. Just to be clear, I really like learning new things. The island is very small with a population of about 300 and as you have thought, everyone knows everyone in the island. We visited the local women trade show where they showcase bead works and shells which they sell to sustain their living.
We also saw the famous bamboo canopy walk which is actually the only one in Kenya. This was an initiative by the locals and foreign investors to conserve the bamboo and environment. The tide had just started to rise and we hurriedly took the walk and got backso as not to get caught up with the high tide. The village was fascinating as they did not have fresh water but they had improvised underground tanks which could hold large amounts of water. The people were calm and friendly. They depend on fishing as their main source of living. The kids looked like they were having more fun than I had back in the day. They would swim in the clear waters of the Indian Ocean and bask under the sun.
It was a great experience and as we started our way back home I just thought of all the great things I had learnt that day. See you again Kisite Mpunguti, soon.
Hassan Mbwana (+254720024986)
By Zeddy Msagha @ZeddyShizzle
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Wasini Island(*not Shimoni Island) – One of the readers correctly identified the wrong naming for the island and corrected us in the comments. Thanks @Ipha .