To read part 2 of this series, click here

Considerations For Marriage

Please note that the whole purpose of this segment is to give you a guide on how to go about the process of choosing a spouse, not rules to be followed strictly. Life is not simply black and white and fate is very very mysterious. So many very unlikely individuals have had very successful marriages and so many who seemed well put together ended up divorced. There is no 100% guaranteed formula for a successful marriage because at the end of the day, as much as we make the choices, fate could have very different plans for us. Many things differ from era to era, case to case, individual to individual, culture to culture and context to context so please read the following with an open mind.

5. Age

They say age doesn’t really matter and over the years we’ve had individuals with huge age gaps and the opposite of that as well and still managed to have a healthy marriage. Shaykh Waleed Basyouni mentioned that sometimes when there is a huge age gap there can be a disconnection between the two. For example, right now Gen Z, they’re very different from previous generations. They are in a totally different era. They have different mannerisms, wordings, jokes, lifestyles and values that older generations might not necessarily agree with, understand or connect with. As such, it is advisable to have a smaller age gap, but if otherwise, just understand in advance how that can affect your interactions as spouses then decide whether that works for you.

6. Physical Attraction

Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder and one man’s meat is another man’s poison. As such, it is very important that an individual is physically attracted to the person they intend to marry. This should be based on their own opinions not what others think/feel about the individual. Some individuals have stronger chemistry and connection from the first time they meet and for others, the attraction grows over time and as they know more about the person. However, Shaykh Waleed mentioned that when considering an individual, that physical attraction shouldn’t be completely zero. There should be at least some attraction which then gives you room to grow in love with them. But if it is completely zero, then perhaps you should consider someone else. Physical attraction cannot be forced; it is a natural thing. So even if someone has very good character and deen but you feel nothing at all towards them, then you shouldn’t feel guilty to decline the offer.

I understand that sometimes the pressure from the family is a lot and they would mock your decision to decline a person you’re not physically attracted to, but at the end of the day, you’re the one who will live with this person for the rest of your life. This doesn’t mean the individual is ugly or entirely unattractive. In fact, to someone else, they could be the prettiest/most good-looking person they’ve ever seen. But you don’t see or feel it that way, and that is okay. We, human beings are like art. And art is very subjective. Each one is drawn to something different. It would be very unfair to both of you if you accepted someone you don’t feel attracted to and then spent your years wondering how it would have been if you found someone else or waited for someone you’re attracted to. You both deserve better than that. And if you’re on the receiving end of a rejection, do know that one person’s rejection doesn’t mean that you’re unattractive to everyone else. It can be as hard as it gets, but have faith that there is a person decreed for you who will absolutely love everything about you.

It is also important to note that sometimes people look very different in photos and in real life. You could be attracted by someone’s photo but when you meet them in real life, you would feel differently about them. As such, make a point to see an individual in real life before proposing.

There is also another wisdom in seeing a person before marriage because you could notice something in their mannerisms that could enhance your attraction to them or otherwise. Shaykh gave an example of a woman who was proposed to by a very good-looking and fashionable man. When he came to her home to meet the family, the man ate in such a disgusting way that the woman was immediately put off. And this happens. Sometimes people are put off by seemingly small things or what they would consider their pet peeves and reject the proposal. Please note that this does not in any way mean we should seek perfection (because that is never attainable) but rather, when it comes to physical attraction, it is entirely upon you to decide what is something you can live with and what is not.

From Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘If one of you proposes marriage to a woman, if he can look at her to see that which will encourage him to go ahead and marry her, then let him do so.’ I proposed marriage to a young woman, and I used to hide where I could see her, until I saw that which encouraged me to go ahead and marry her, so I did so.’” According to another report he said, ‘a young woman of Bani Salamah. I used to hide from her, until I saw that which encouraged me to go ahead and marry her, so I did so.” (Saheeh Abi Dawood, no. 1832, 1834)

From al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah: “I proposed marriage to a woman, and the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Have you seen her?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Look at her, because it is more fitting that love and compatibility be established between you.’” According to another report: “So he did that, and he married her and mentioned that they got along.” (Reported by al-Daaraqutni, 3/252 (31, 32); Ibn Maajah, 1/574)

7. Culture

Allah Subhanahu Wataala said in Surah Al-Hujurat, verse 13: “O humanity! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may ˹get to˺ know one another. Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware.”

Interracial/Intercultural marriages can be as beautiful as they get. They give us a chance to appreciate our different cultures and traditions. Yet when we are entering into a different culture, we should be prepared for what comes next.

We do have tribes and races that are very traditional and really uphold their culture and values, for example, Indians, Arabs, and other types of Asians. Then we have like Western cultures that are a bit flexible and more easily embrace others’ cultures. So it may be easier for an American for example to embrace the culture of their spouse. But imagine when two strong traditional tribes come together, there might be some challenges that will come about. For example, (not to be stereotypical or anything but these are just examples so as to illustrate how two different traditional individuals can merge) an Arab woman getting married to a Chinese, Indian or Mexican man. Please note that this is not to say that it can’t happen in a healthy way, it is possible. Yet when an individual is about to enter into a family of a different strong culture, it is important for them to take time to understand the other culture, calculate the risks, consider the clashes in lifestyles, gender roles and expectations and think about their willingness to adapt to that other culture.

Also, when an individual or a family states that they prefer someone from their own tribe or culture, let’s not rush to label them as ‘racist’ because sometimes, people actually prefer someone with a similar culture, so as to avoid interracial clashes. This doesn’t make them racists. By all means, we should seek what we believe will make us most comfortable. I know in Mombasa we hear people a lot of times saying in a negative tone ‘wanaoana wenyewe kwa wenyewe’ but there is nothing wrong with that (unless this is done because the said tribe feels superior or undermines others). Otherwise, if it is just based on preferences then this does not equate to racism. We have to understand, some people/tribes/cultures are open to new and different experiences, and some prefer familiarity and that is okay too.

The question then comes, where do we draw the line between personal preferences and racism/colorism?

Personal preference in the case of marriage is when an individual, for example, is attracted to a certain skin tone, or certain physical features that are mostly found in a certain tribe/race. So it is okay for someone to say I would love to have a dark wife or a fair husband or a wife from this tribe. In its original sense, this is very natural. Each individual loves different features and sometimes these features are predominant in a certain tribe.

Racism/Colorism is when an individual discriminates against certain people because of their race or color. Like when someone says, ‘I would never marry a dark-skinned man or I would never marry from this tribe’ in a tone that insinuates that anyone with dark skin or from this particular tribe can never be beautiful. It could also mean, this individual has classified an entire group of people based on race or color to show them as unattractive. That is undermining the tribe/race/color, and this is what is wrong.

I know racism is as real as it gets and I will not in any way try to sweep it under the rug. However, let’s not be quick to judge others’ intentions and classify them as racists.

Additionally, we have to be careful about how we show or talk about our preferences. As much as each individual has a right to have personal preferences about certain tribes, skin tones and even body types, we have to be sensitive not to sound degrading to those with features other than what we prefer. For example, (and this is very common), someone could say they prefer petite or slender women, and that is very okay. However, some go ahead and explain why they don’t like women who are curvier or why ONLY petite women can be attractive. Some are even insensitive enough and say such comments in front of curvier women or on social media platforms. This is very inappropriate and just wrong. We’re human after all, and we need to treat others with kindness regardless of our opinions.

8. Financial stability

Marriage is of course a huge responsibility and the man becomes responsible for the maintenance of his wife and family.

A hadeeth was narrated by al-Bukhaari (5066) and Muslim (1400) from Ibn Mas‘ood, who said: “We were with the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), young men who had nothing of wealth. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said to us: “O young men, whoever among you can afford it, let him get married, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and guarding one’s chastity. And whoever cannot afford it should fast, for it will be a shield for him.” 

This hadith means that if a young man can afford the cost and duties of marriage, he should hasten to get married and protect his chastity. Naturally then, when choosing a spouse, the families ask about the man’s work and income in order to identify whether he can take his responsibilities as required. This thus is an important factor to consider.

Yet still, on the other hand, this does not in any way mean that one has to be super wealthy to be married. It doesn’t mean either that if one is poor they shouldn’t get married. Allah, may He be exalted, says: “And marry those among you who are single (i.e. a man who has no wife and the woman who has no husband) and (also marry) the Salihoon (pious, fit and capable ones) of your (male) slaves and maid-servants (female slaves). If they be poor, Allah will enrich them out of His Bounty. And Allah is All-Sufficent for His creatures needs, All-Knowing (about the state of the people)” [an-Noor 24:32].

As indicated here, “Poverty in and of itself is not an impediment to marriage if the husband is religiously committed and believes sincerely in his Lord, and the woman is likewise. If a person sincerely puts his trust in Allah, wants to keep himself chaste, and seeks that which is with Allah of bounty, there is the hope that Allah will help such a person and grant him provision from His bounty. At-Tirmidhi (1655) narrated, in a report which he classed as hasan, from Abu Hurayrah, who said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “There are three whom Allah is bound to help: the mujaahid who strives (in jihad) for the sake of Allah, the mukaatib (a slave who has made a contract of manumission with his master) who wants to pay off his manumission, and a man who gets married, seeking to remain chaste.”. It was classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh at-Tirmidhi. 

As such, these cases vary according to people’s situations and customs.



‘Fiqh of Love’ course by Al Maghrib Institute



Thank you for reading, I pray this was beneficial. Please stay tuned for part 4 as we delve into the questions to ask potential spouses, identifying red flags and involving Allah Subhanahu Wataala in the entire process.

This article (edited version) was first published on ‘Travel Log Magazine’ an insert of Standard Newspaper on 9/1/2020

When you travel out of your country, for whatever reason, there will always be expectations imposed on you. Nothing will be said to you directly nor is there an old, smelly manuscript by the ancestors stating what is exactly expected of you. However, they still exist. And the moment you just step down from the airplane, your entire community awaits you.

1. Suddenly, you have become the elite of the community and being elite, comes with a price.

It doesn’t matter whether you went out of the country for studies or business or short holiday, especially when you currently live there, you are a different person of a different status now. And status comes with expectations; ‘when will you build your parents a kahouse at the farm at least they enjoy their old age?’ ‘Your uncle has been very ill. You should chip in in his medical bill.’ ‘Are you going to sponsor one of your siblings’ education now that you live in Australia?’

Now, no one really knows what you are doing there; the struggle, the high cost of living or even your earnings, but apparently, being out there somehow makes you wealthy. It could be so but perhaps not. Who cares to ask anyway?!

2. Your entire extended family and community that sometimes don’t even recognize you, expect gifts.

A few weeks or even months before your awaited arrival, the requests start coming in from your aunty who doesn’t really like you, your old friends you haven’t talked to in a year, your ex-neighbor who once did you a favor decades ago…you name it. Someone wants that designer perfume that isn’t available in Kenya, another wants a blow dryer they saw on TV, another wants a kasmall laptop tu. 

All this while, no one asks you whether you can afford it or not. Whether you have the ability to get the item or whether it will inconvenience you. Si uko ulaya? Haya! Deal with it!

3. Somehow, sometimes, a change of accent is considered betrayal of sorts.

‘So you went to live with the wazungus so now you know better eh? You can’t even speak like us anymore!’

Somehow, maintaining your accent equals to honouring your roots. So doing the opposite get people to gossip how your foreign accent is ‘pretential’ and ‘forced’ even though at their own seclusion, in front of their mirror, they try to imitate ‘your enhanced accent’ wishing they were you.

4. You MUST have adopted some of their mannerisms isn’t it?!

Queer questions will start streaming in, ‘I hear that there is an indigenous community there that eat crows, did you try it out too?’ ‘I heard that in their culture, they believe in unicorns, do you think they really exist?’ ‘There is a new Korean series, did you watch it while there?’

I mean, there MUST be something new you picked from them right?!

5. Come cook us a Turkish meal.

You’ve been in Turkey for how long again? 2 years?! You should prepare us a Turkish cuisine! I mean isn’t that the first thing after language that people learn in a new country?!

6. My friend, if your grandfather, your parent or any other individual was supporting you financially before, your travelling/living abroad cancels that automatically. You are now expected to act like a fully independent and a grown up finally! Your problems no longer exist and someone else definitely deserves the finances. I mean, who lives in Canada while being poor?! (even if you went to work there as a home care taker). You can never be broke. You can be broquè though; the elite, classic kind of lacking money. (It should be added on Modern dictionary!)

7. In fact, you are the loan guy now. You are the first person everyone thinks of when they are in trouble. The first person your reckless cousin calls when caught by the police for over-speeding. The first person to call when someone gets admitted to school. The first person invited to a baby shower or wedding. You are expected to act like a malfunctioning ATM machine.

The expectations come in different shapes and forms but the bottom line is this: for you to be respected, some of these expectations must be fulfilled. Once you gain the respect, no doubt, the entire community will be fond of you. Upon your arrival back home, you will be invited everywhere and be over-fed until you can barely walk on your two feet. You will be treated like a dignified individual even with people who never cared about you prior your ‘life-changing journey’. They will ask you for advice on the new business they want to start or anything else that you entirely have no idea about.

You will be forgiven for your otherwise unacceptable behavior. They will cut you some slack when you confront your elder with a rude tone, something that would otherwise have caused a hefty slap on your face. They will say things like, ‘He has been away for so long, the culture is different there’ and follow it with a moment of painful silence. Your younger cousins will call that privilege. The ones older than you will call it misuse of privilege.

When you are away, people will make video calls. The children will proudly tell their friends at school, ‘I have an aunty in London. Aha!’ That statement will be used as a means to gain friends, appear more likeable, bully other kids or threaten them. Family gatherings will be incomplete without you.

The chief of the mtaa will refer to you in the baraza meetings. Your mother will never refer to you by your name but instead say, ‘Si you know my eldest son? The one in Qatar, working as a manager?’ 

You are the pride of the community. Don’t let them down. Don’t forget your roots huh!


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This article (edited version) was first published on ‘Travel Log Magazine’ an insert of Standard Newspaper on 13/12/19

December is upon us and soon enough, Mombasa will be congested from droves of holidaymakers. It is no secret that we all love Mombasa, because hey! ‘Mombasa raha ama vipi?’ We definitely love our home and love being part of it; the entire thing, the good, the bad and the fun! Now here’s a few pointers for our esteemed guests when they come for holidays:

1. Mombasa is an island, and just like any island, we move in slow, calm waves. We are relaxed people; we know it, and we are totally okay with it. Our pace should not in any way make you think we are in any way lazy or too unbothered or have no worthy place to be at. We on the other hand are not fans of the chaos and wildness of the cities and if you noticed, we are doing very well as we are. No one would want to come to our home if it weren’t for this exact solace and calmness that you sometimes criticize.

2. We know that Mombasa is very hot and even hotter during December season. Please do not worry about our hijabs and buibuis. We have lived here our entire lives and this heat has become part of us, we are okay still wearing black under the scorching sun. You can term us ‘Warriors’ for that, we definitely are!

3. Please understand that Kiswahili, is a very beautiful language and has its deep history originating not just from Mombasa but other parts of the Eastern Coast and even beyond. The Swahili accents differ from place to place and tribe to tribe. Ours is as sweet as our souls and we are proud of our mother tongue. Now, do not in any way think that Kiswahili speakers are in any way less educated, civilized or modern. You’d be surprised how many scholars, educators, established business people we have, who take pride in talking in Kiswahili rather than any other seemingly ‘advanced language’.

4. We are kind people. We value brotherhood and we are always ready to assist anyone. Please note however, that when we decide to show you directions or assist you with water or literally take you on a tour, that that is not a cue for wanting small talk or giving out our phone numbers or wanting any kind of intimacy (unless otherwise clearly stated). We are simply kind people. Please get used to it.

5. Walk anywhere, and I mean ANYWHERE in Mombasa and I can promise you that you’ll find someone doing business there, or marketing or just hustling in whichever way they can. We do have idlers and drug addicts and other vices, just like ANY other town. So please, when you get back home, remember to take the report back home that we are not lazy people as many perceive. Talk of the women you saw very early before dawn, selling those delicious Swahili food. Talk of the many seminars that you saw youth attending. Talk of the protests being done continuously to fight for our rights. Talk of the men going to ‘mjengo’ every morning and returning late at night. Talk of how hard working we really are and be part of breaking the available stereotypes.

6. As Swahili people, we really value our culture and principles. We behave in certain ways, dress in certain ways, talk in certain ways…Of course we can’t hold our visitors as prisoners to our values but please, could you try to at least respect our culture? Could you try to be more sensitive to what you say to the locals, or how you dress when amidst the locals or how you behave when invited in someone’s home? We do understand that people come from very diverse cultures and backgrounds and we function in different ways. But as the common saying goes, ‘When you go to Rome, you do as Romans do.’ This is not a rule but more of a humane expectation. If the Coastal women, for example, refuse to shake hands with the male or drink alcohol or party till late night or anything else we’re not comfortable with, remember to not be prejudicial.  Respect the culture instead.

December is a paradoxical time for the Coastals. We are not huge fans of all the over-crowded beaches and extremely busy roads and places, yet we are happy to receive people and shower them with our warmth and kindness. Not to mention the business opportunities huh! To end this I say, ‘Karibuni sana Mombasa.’

Happy holidays!

Photo Courtesy: Majdermind

Buzz! Buzz! You check your phone for the fiftieth time. You scroll lazily through the messages; Eid Mubarak, Eid Saeed! Each one more similar than the previous. You create a quick broadcast of all close friends, family and colleagues and forward the last message you just received. Okay done, one less thing to worry about. It is almost midnight but the house couldn’t be livelier. The smell of fresh paint, oud and freshly baked cookies choke your throat. Your elder brother is changing the curtains, your mother is still whining about the slightly burnt cake and your teenage brother has made himself the designated taster, picking the well laid snacks one plate after another. The kitchen is a big mess. The sitting room however, is spick and span. If your nosey neighbours were to come as early as 6 a.m. you’d be proud of your little home. We can worry about the kitchen in the morning, everyone suggests. Yet everyone knows that the morning would be more hectic than the last ten days combined.

You try to sleep but your anxious mind wouldn’t let you close your eyes. Did I return the remaining milk in the fridge? Ah, I forgot to send an Eid message to aunty. I should do that first thing in the morning. Now what will we do about the burnt cake? Your eyes finally shut but your mind is still racing with thoughts. Your back is aching from bending over at the traditional ‘mbuzi’, grating several coconuts to prepare mkate wa sinia. You remember your pretty, flowery dress and smile, satisfied. It doesn’t even last you a minute, your mother knocks at your door. ‘Minal aidin!’ she wakes you up. You have barely slept and you have too many reasons to whine about. But it is Eid isn’t it? It is a big day and plus, there’s no time to ask for more time to sleep. So you jump out of bed and kiss your mother, ‘Minal faizeen’.

The entire family is awake for the dawn prayer. Your father and brothers go to the mosque while you, your mother and sisters pray at home. Everyone thereafter disperses to a corner; your brother is ironing his kanzu for the Eid prayer about to happen in almost two hours. Your younger sister is laying out her entire attire from head to toe, ready for a shower while your younger brother is still ‘tasting’. Your father is watching the Eid celebrations in Makkah while your mother is setting up the table. You are in between cleaning the kitchen, checking social media, sharing Eid messages and taking bites here and there.

The table is a beautiful sight. All kind of food is laid out from your slightly burnt cake, to cookies, to donuts, to samosas, to home-made chocolate, to mkate wa sinia to meat pies. Coffee and dates wouldn’t miss either. No one has the time to sit and eat yet so everyone is picking a bite in between doing other things. The phones keep ringing; aunties, friends, cousins, all calling to wish your family Eid Mubarak. The kitchen is finally clean and one by one, each dresses up for the special occasion.

Oud fragrance fills the air and soon enough, we’re all taking photos. The entire family heads to the open-ground where the Eid prayer would be performed. There’s a lot of laughter, hugs, kisses and merry everywhere. Little children are running around in cute dresses and kanzus, greeting almost every elder they meet. It is a reunion; old friends, relatives, all neighbours are there. A beautiful moment. A memorable time. The takbiras can be heard all over the area, people chanting and chorusing, ‘Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La ilaha illa Llahu. Wa Llahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lillahi Lhamd…’ (Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, there is no god but Allah. And Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest and to Allah belongs all praise.)

The prayers are done and a multitude of people walk home together; many white and coloured kanzus and bright buibuis. There’s a heavy traffic jam, cars hooting and lots of smiles on the road.
Back home, your mother sets aside plates with food for the neighbours and your younger brother is tasked to make the deliveries. You’re not sure if the food will arrive safely without him ‘tasting’ some more but you’ve given him enough warning to scare his ever-hungry stomach. You can’t wait for the plates to be brought back from the neighbours’ because they never come back empty. You’re eyeing for the very sweet ‘mkate wa mayai’ and kebabs that mama Zeinab makes.

You now all sit down to officially feast and taste the fruits of your labour, literally! Children soon come knocking on the door asking for ‘Eidi mbarak’ and your mother has all these coins and sweets prepared for them. After the heavy, palatable breakfast, you now have the energy to go visit your relatives one after another.
You decide with your siblings on the map to follow, from house to house. Everywhere you go, you are fed once more and the juices are enough to last you the entire week. Your baby sister is given ‘eidi’ with your aunties and uncles and you see her boasting to other cousins the amount she has received yet. It makes you nostalgic. Gone were the days when you’d be the one receiving the money. Ironically, aren’t you the one needing the money more than your baby sister?! You sigh. Before you drown in your financial crisis thoughts, your mother pulls your baby sister aside and whispers, ‘let me keep the money safely for you. If you need anything you’ll tell me.’ You laugh. You know the trick but your naïve sister hasn’t learnt yet. So she gives out the money not knowing she’ll never see it again. You can’t wait to do that to your own kids someday…just for the culture!

Lunch hour, the extended family gathers at the eldest uncle’s house for his famous biryani. The house is full, the stomachs are fuller and the hearts are fullest. The elders sit together at the sitting room conversing endlessly and laughing loudly. The children are running around. The young adults are confused as usual, trying to be everywhere with everyone.

The afternoon sets in and Eid is never complete without the gwaride. Drums and trumpets blowing loudly within the Old town. The team moves from one household to another in their red, blue and black uniforms and ugly masks. Children and adults altogether following the troupe as the kids jump up and down, singing and chorusing along, ‘twataka leo leo!’ When they’ve had enough of the singing and the troupe has gone further way from home, the children come back.

Your baby sister comes and whispers in your mother’s ears while the other children wait at the door anxiously. They want to go ‘bembeani’ at the famous Makadara grounds. As usual, you and your other cousin who’s your age mate are the allocated baby sitters. You are given some money to spend on your baby sister’s games, play and food. Off you set with your group of naughty kids, babysitting them at home is hectic enough let alone in a public, crowded space. However, you and your age mate have plans to have fun too because who said swings have an age limit?! You just have cross your fingers that you don’t lose any of your ‘ducklings’!

Eid Mubaraaaak!


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Photo Courtesy: http://www.lamupaintersfestival.org

Just like any other place, the Coast too has it’s good, bad and ugly. Sure enough, what’s below is only part of the story and not the full picture. There are several other personalities and several other perceptions. So kindly read this without being judgmental. There’s always another side of the coin 😉

1. The man rich in culture: He is the typical ‘Coasterian’ from head to toe. He is proud of his culture and traditions and would never trade it for anything else. He is always in a kanzu and kofia or otherwise a kikoi and shirt. His shoes would always be the makubadhi just like his coffee would never be espresso, latte or cappuccino. He would even ask, with eyebrows raised, “Why on earth would I drink that when there is kahawa tungu?” (In Kiswahili of course). So nah, the sugarcoating of these fancy names don’t move him in the least bit. You wouldn’t miss him in traditional events like the lamu cultural festival or mawlid and zefe. His house preference would always be the Swahili traditional homes so definitely, his wife choice would be a woman who knows enough about udi and asmini and a lot about samaki wa kupaka, mkate wa mofa and matobosha. He probably works as a fisherman or in the traditional businesses that have been existence since his forefathers. In the evenings he’d be seated at the baraza with friends chit-chatting or playing backgammon. His accent is not ‘Westernized’ so the ‘T’ in Fatma comes out mildly as it should be. If you are a visitor at the Coast, this is the guy you meet and see ‘the Coast’ all over him.

2. The Maalim: The man with the longest beard? 😀 His clothe of choice would always be the white sparkling kanzu. He is the sheikh; the ustadh. People trust him and value his opinions. He holds some knowledge in religion and preaches. The community treats him like the village elder and thus, involve him in many of their problems. He is respected and honoured. He is definitely the man to go to when in trouble.

3. The Mganga? Before you meet him, you will come across his poster or a piece of wood on an electricity pole advertising his ‘skills.’ Oh, he promises a lot of things; to cure your ailment, to get you a good job, to know if your wife is cheating. The only thing he won’t promise you is heaven. You’d find his home in a dark town in a dark village in the darkest spot of the mtaa. Creepy? I thought so too.

4. The lazy bone: He has no idea what is happening in his life or those around him. He is pretty much non-existent. He is jobless and is not ready to look for one. His wife/mother/woman of the house ends up spoon-feeding him because he’ll never bother provide or bring something to the table. In the evenings you’d find him at the baraza with his two kilos of miraa. He is so comfy and you’d wonder how they can be that relaxed without a penny.

5. The shy guy: He is genuinely shy. Not the social media guys who claim to be shy because this one definitely is. He is raised with high Islamic and traditional morals, he’d blush if a girl said hi. He is more often than not a loner or with few selected friends. You never have to worry about his behaviour in front of your parents because he knows his limits.

6. The sea-lover: It would be so wrong to be born at the Coast and not love the sea right? He cherishes the sea than anything else. It’s the place he goes to early in the morning for a jog, or at lunch hour to eat or when is stressed, when happy, when he is bored, when everything and nothing happens…you’d find him there. The sea is his home.

7. The odds beater: He is the man who proves against the stereotype that Coast folks only await for the mangoes to drop. He is ambitious and passionate in whatever field he has taken. He may be very well educated but he may also be not. However he is still very successful.

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8. The slippy mouth: He knows all the insults in the world. Everything in his conversations and talks must include an insult even when it’s totally out of context. Doesn’t matter if he is joking, laughing, greeting, teasing a friend,angry or frustrated; an insult will definitely appear somewhere in his sentences. Most probably he grew up with the habit or adopted it. He doesn’t care what you’ll think of it but you better be prepared when talking to him; your ears will beg for mercy. Oh and by the way, he’s also very loud in his speech so you’ll hear the insult even when miles apart.

9. Mommy’s boy: Most of the times, a boy like him comes from the upper class but sometimes from the lower class too. He’s been pampered all his life and been given all he ever needed. He barely knows how to survive on his own and depends highly on his mum/parents to sort things out for him. He loves his mum genuinely though, we can’t argue about that.

10. The gentleman: He may be similar to the shy guy but not necessarily. He is charming, a man of his words and most of all, humble and gentle to the people around him. He is a principled man and knows how to deal with people. Husband material? Most often than not.

11. The man of four wives: He will say he has a big heart which is spacious enough to accommodate four ladies 😀 Cliche much 😀 Never debate polygamy with him because you’ll fail miserably. He finds solace in his women and is proud of himself. Wonder all you want, he still made it through with his wives 😀 or maybe he didn’t but he still doesn’t regret his ‘venture’ into polygamy.

12. The pious one: Born in a family with good morals, raised well enough, ventured into religious education and has succeeded in being a scholar. In other scenarios, he pushed himself single-handedly into piety-hood. May be young but holds an ocean of knowledge in him. May be a hafidh too (memorizer of the qur’an) and people around him value his wisdom. He may or may not be a preacher but his opinions are still highly respected due to his level of piety.

13. The drug-addict: The most unfortunate scenarios of them all. He probably started early with small stuff like sheesha and miraa before graduating to marijuana and the likes. He may be from a broken family or is a neglected kid and sometimes, he is just a spoilt brat. He met other birds with the same colours and now they flock together terrorizing the community around them. This kind of story most often than not ends miserably or terribly except if he is lucky enough and got a hand to pull him out and into rehabilitation. May God protect us from such scenarios.

Oh well, we still love the Coast don’t we? With everything in it and every kind of personality we still love it here more because no place will ever feel like home more. Hey Coastal men, found yourself up there? 😀


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via https://mylitcorner.wordpress.com

I finished watching the fourth season of 24 the other day.
As if I wasn’t already a big fan of the series, this season just went above and beyond to hook me in even further. Jack. Bauer. What’s not to like about this guy?

The narrative around which the show 24 usually revolves is that a lot can happen in a single day. And boy doesn’t a lot happen in Jack’s life in those 24 hours. His hobbies during the day include kicking butt and running around a lot without, seemingly, stopping once to catch his second wind. He kicks off with staging a store robbery, then single-handedly storms a compound chokeful of terrorists to rescue a government official, then saunters off to the headquarters of an arms dealership to gather intel where he wards off an army of mercenaries, then leads a black-ops mission to retrieve an informant from the Chinese embassy, all while looking as fresh as a November chrysanthemum (I don’t know what that word means either).

And he does all this while constantly being pressured and second-guessed by his bosses who include quite possibly the most incompetent US president ever depicted on a TV or cinema screen.

He is hands-down the embodiment of all our fantasies of resilience and invincibility. Jason Bourne and wimpy James Bond have nothing on him at all.

Perhaps it’s just as well that Jack Bauer is not a very complicated man. He has no philosophies to preach or grand prophecies to narrate to his audience. His dialogue does not include confounding parabole with deep life lessons a la Master Yoda. When a character is that ‘simple’ but fights for his country and innocent people, everyone can relate to him.

His adversaries, on the other hand, are the ones with complicated philosophies and big words, which is why they are so blindly committed to their causes they are willing to die for them. In this season, true to form of most TV and cinema presentations in the recent decade, and of particular interest to this article, Jack’s adversaries happen to be…well…“Muslim” terrorists.

When the first few episodes of season four came out, there was such a huge uproar over the portrayal of Muslims in the show that the Muslim Council of Britain lodged a formal complaint, and it’s hard not to see why. The show depicts a Turkish Muslim family so modern and assimilated in a foreign culture that the mother doesn’t wear a hijab, and the teenage son begins dating a non-Muslim local girl. Which is a big problem because frowny daddy has plans to turn continental US into a radioactive wasteland and his son’s girlfriend jeopardizes that…I think? What follows is borderline sinister and truly heartbreaking.

Feirouz, the teenage son, is pressured by his parents to kill his American girlfriend, because ‘she saw the darn warehouse’ where the father and other terrorists have been hiding a kidnapped government official. Feirouz chickens out and tries to rush his girlfriend away to safety, but she dies in his hands as it dawns on him that his mother poisoned the girl’s drink. You’d expect Feirouz would break down in tears and cry a river, but somehow, he manages to pull himself together immediately and doesn’t seem that distressed. No biggy, mum and dad were right anyway. Then, in a curious turn of events, mother turns against father to protect Feirouz, husband shoots mother, proceeds to kill an uncle and is on the verge of killing Feirouz when Jack Bauer swoops in once again to put an end to the madness. Just a troubled, messed-up family from start to end.

When the complaints began flooding in, the show’s creators promised that Muslims would be cast in better light towards the middle of the season. When that anticipated moment finally came it manifested in an underwhelming, in my opinion, cameo of two scrawny Muslim gun-store owners who helped Jack Bauer fight that army of mercenaries, further propagating the idea that Muslims are always ready for a fight, whether it’s to actively start one or to simply join in.

Alright, so maybe that’s what 24 is all about, gritty scenes with bad guys and good guys gleefully exchanging bullets every chance they get, so maybe that was the best we could have hoped for, but then I remember watching another show, the X-files, where one episode follows two very normal looking (and to some extent timid) Muslim teenagers cruising through an American town in their car until they park besides a building. Then to my genuine, but premature, delight they begin reciting together, a dua so familiar, in accent-free Arabic, I almost joined in. I remember thinking check out these two poor guys shaking and praying, are they going for a job interview or something? I hope they get it, I really do. I felt stupid seconds later when they walked into the building and it went up in one of those colourful explosions Hollywood is famed for.

It put me off so terribly, I watched the rest of the episode with my hand half reaching for the remote, but still curious to see if there would be some redemption for the Muslim community to come later.

It’s really depressing, I tell you, watching a TV show depicting people who claim to share spiritual beliefs with you, speak flawless Arabic and recite verses of the book we recite every day and regard as our life-manual, only for them to later on draw out their AK47s from thin air or don a bomb vest. You look at those people, when they are presented to you initially, hoping to see elements of your own life reflected back to you, but nothing of the sort is forthcoming.

We, Muslims, are people too.

We make embarrassing mistakes, small and big, throughout our lives, like every other human being.

We have an unhealthy habit of crying too much when we lose someone close to us, like most human beings.

We have our moments of comic awkwardness.

Like when we cant decide what to do with our hands while greeting the elderly who are our non-Mahrams (those we are eligible to marry). Our norms dictate it’s more respectful to extend your arm, yet at the same time tell us we shouldn’t when it’s a non-Mahram. Biiig dilemma.

Or that famed three-part Eid hug moment, when visiting relatives and you can’t remember whether you’re supposed to start on the right side or the left, or whether to end it with a kiss on the cheek or not. And if we do finish it that way, then who goes first? And then, you have that scene where both of you try to do it together and end up going around in circles and your necks wrap around each other and give rise to a clumsy two-headed monster.

Or how about the curious glances we contend with when we shout “Allah Akbar” in public after hearing good news. ‘Allah Akbar’ means ‘God is Great’ by the way, not ‘Death to the West’, for anyone here as yet unaware of that fact. In my mind I sometimes imagine a scene where a traditional middle-eastern mother visits her son in the US or Europe where he’s been studying and recently started working, and when the son pulls up at the arrivals terminal in his shiny brand new car, the overjoyed mother breaks into a khaleejy dance singing, “Allahu Akbar, my son’s made it. Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar.”

The son jumps outside, fidgeting and smiling nervously and tries desperately to get her to stop, “Ma, mama, ya ummi! Here in the states we say, ‘Yay!’ and sort of jiggle our feet. Quick now, get in the car, before mysterious men in dark suits pull black bags over our heads and throw us in an FBI van, shukran.”

Are none of the above moments or similar worthy of joining the ranks of those classical “famous TV scenes”?

How much longer are we going to have to wait for that modern Muslim family sitcom the world so desperately needs right now?

I don’t know, something’s got to give. Am almost sure of it. That there will come a time in the future when someone in the upper echelons of the entertainment industry will look at the culture of a people who make up a quarter of the world’s population, see past the layers of stereotypes and into the humor and romance in it and finally produce a critically acclaimed, fan-adored show that really, actually captures the life of the modern Muslim.

Until that happens though, this angry “Muslim” on my TV screen, with his bloodshot eyes and his sharp tongue and his gun-trigger-seducing fingers, will remain as strange to me as the mission he dedicates his life –and death­ – to.

Photos Courtesy: lifeinmombasa.com, http://blog.jovago.com/, http://www.travelstart.co.ke/

There is a reason why people from all over the world keep saying, ‘Mombasa Raha’. Of course the statement is not over-rated, if anything, Mombasa can be the best place to take a break. And by Mombasa I am referring to the larger Mombasa of the old times that extends to Lamu, Malindi and Mambrui on the North and to Likoni on the South. We just have too many blessings to ignore. Here is why:

1. Mombasa has the most hospitable people: Oh yes! This is the place where you need direction and the person drops everything they have in hand to escort you to your destination. This is the place where people can welcome a total stranger who needs a bed into their homes. We have seen since ages ago, our grandparents allowing exchange students and tourists to live amongst us and within our premises and most of the times free of charge. Well maybe security issues have disadvantaged this tradition to go on as before but still, in some places in the Coast it still happens. This is the place you can comfortably talk to a stranger in a public vehicle and chat like you’ve known them forever. This is the place you greet anyone and they reply even when you don’t know each other. I mean, go to Nairobi and try saying hi to someone on the street and see how they will freak out like you are the psychopath who has been stalking them in forever. Especially if you have a beard! man you are doomed 😀 But we’ve been doing it here in forever. We have neighbours living close together as one family and sharing both the good and bad moments together. Well this may have changed with time but it still happens in some places especially during the month of Ramadhan where neighbours, friends and relatives take plates of food to one another which is commonly known as bembe and sometimes even eat together. The place just becomes too comforting and the unity makes your heart bloom with joy.

We also have people assisting you with fare in a public vehicle when you have lost your own. People defending you when you are being mistreated or taken for granted. I remember an incident where two young high school boys were boarding a matatu but unfortunately, the driver took off just after one had boarded; leaving the other one behind. So the one who had boarded told the conductor he needs to alight because he cant go without his mate. The young boy really looked confused and agitated. It seemed like he was going to boarding school which may be far and perhaps had his own reasons why he wanted his mate to be with him. But the stubborn conductor wouldn’t let him alight with the saying, ‘si atakufata nyuma tu’. The boy kept insisting as he helplessly stood near the vehicle door. The more the boy pleaded, the more the passengers got agitated as well. So they started telling off the conductor, ‘wewe acha mtoto ashuke bwana’ and they really seemed irritated by how the conductor was ‘bullying’ the boy by not allowing him to alight. So it went on until some ladies in the car said, ‘usipomshukisha basi sisi sote pia twashuka.’ When the conductor saw that the pressure was rising, he decided to let him alight. If you were in the car, you’d think all those people knew that young boy by the way they were complaining. So yes, definitely this is the place you will find the kindest and most hospitable people. They can sacrifice their own dinner or their savings to let you, the visitor eat very good food, be comfortable and to your full.

2. Food? Is that even a question? The best of recipes and foods come from here. From the delicious breakfast of mahamri and mbaazi, with tea or coffee commonly known as kahawa to the heavy lunch of wali wa nazi, samaki wa kupaka and fresh juice and ending it with dinner that could be anything really. The varieties of food are uncountable; giving you the utmost satisfaction by eating whatever you love most. Could be mishkaki, shawarma, biriani, pilau etc etc. The desserts are not any less mouth watering! To make things even more interesting for a visitor, there are cafes and ladies beside streets selling palatable food and bites at every corner in Mombasa and you may end up getting confused where and what exactly to eat. You can always ask those who travel out of Mombasa what they miss most, our Coastal food is always mentioned! Oh our mothers and ladies are just blessed with that kind of hand that can mix up anything and end up making a new invention; a superb recipe haha.

3. The Coastal beaches, hotels, historical sites and wild life parks
are just a wonderful place to relax your mind and have the peace of mind that you just need. The breezy Coastal beaches are filled with coconut trees that make it such a wonderful scene and some magnificent hotels are positioned right at the shore. What more would you need? You can always wake up early to watch the sunrise at the beach or the sunset.
The places to visit are many and it’s your choice to just make up your mind on which shore to explore on your sunny Sunday and yes, you can get an exciting ride on camels, donkeys and horses as well. Historical sites such as Fort Jesus and Jumba La Mtwana have so much meaning to the residents of Mombasa and they display the deep culture that has for long been an attraction for tourists.

4. The deep culture and beautiful people
in Mombasa make it an interesting place to be in. We have all sorts of tribes inter-marrying and associating with one another. As such, we have inherited so many cultural traditions all at once. The Swahili, Arabs, Bajunis, Indians, Mijikenda, Barawas, Somalis amongst many others have been able to adapt each others traditions and live peacefully together despite a few differences here and there. There are several festivals such as Lamu Cultural Festival, Lamu Food Festival, Shela Dhow Race among others. Don’t hesitate to join the festivity!

5. The outstanding evenings- In Mombasa, the afternoon is usually the nap time for many who are free and the evening comes with such merry. You will find men just after their evening prayer seating with their mates, drinking kahawa chungu sometimes with haluwa or tende as they play backgammon. As for the ladies, an evening in Mombasa is not complete without the delicious viazi karai, bajia with chatini and ukwaju, sambusa, vitumbua amongst many other bites or sometimes it would simply be eating of the famous mabuyu, achari and sunflower as they sit watching TV, listen to taarab or most commonly chat with fellow women in their lesos and deras in their homes. The mabuyu and achari from Mombasa are used as gifts internationally so I guess this is where we make them best I guess? As for the children, you wouldn’t miss seeing them jump and run about playing with their age mates. You won’t miss to see boys and young men playing football in different grounds. They would go to buy barafu or babu kachri (It consists of a thick tangy potato gravy, sprinkled with crushed potato crisps and khara sev (a fried crispy snack made from chickpea flour and spices and topped with a spicy chutney) to spice up their evenings too. Well, what is life without food anyway? Sometimes they go for outings and walks in places like light house, buy kachri (crips), sit by the beach or go for ice cream. To top it up, there is no annoying jam to slow down your day. Here, people are always in the celebrating mood. Any day any time is the time for an outing. Where else do people have such spectacular evenings filled with joy, merry and children’s laughter?

6. Among the best of house wives come from the Coast. Ladies are taught from a very young age how to cook, how to handle a home and children such that when they get married, they are experts in being exemplary house wives. Being a house wife is really underestimated yet the work the ladies do to ensure their homes are up to date can’t be ignored. They beautify themselves with piko and henna for their husbands, use vikuba which have different flowers like vilua, mawardi (roses), Asmini (Jasmine) sown together to perfume their hair and the most commonly known Udi to perfume their clothes, bodies and their rooms. They wouldn’t miss a couple of lesos in their wardrobes from the famous Abdallah Leso with powerful messages and sometimes with mafumbo and methali.

7. The traditional Coastal weddings are just another thing!! The setting, the food, the pretty ladies!! During weddings, ladies wear crowns, necklaces (shada la pesa) or any other designs made of money and sometimes gift it to the newly weds or their relatives. I previously wrote an entire article about Swahili weddings, you can always check it out!

8. Religious Upbringing:
As much as the Coast has different religions, the majority are the Muslims. Children are encouraged to go to madrasa at very young age, to participate in religious challenges as well as memorization of the holy book. We have Christians as well who have their own schedules for the young people and gladly, we have been able to inter-mingle with other religions without any problems. Such upbringing is to instill upright behaviour and humbleness in the children.

Mombasa and the Coast at large has been on the edge in the past few years. Things have changed, situations have changed and the people keep changing. With the coming of technology, many of the traditions, values and morals have been going downhill too. Nonetheless, today, let us just forget all the ills of Mombasa and appreciate the good and the multiple blessings we have. These are but a few, there are many more. I am not saying the above mentioned doesn’t happen elsewhere, I’m just saying this is ‘home sweet home’.

Photo Courtesy: Unknown

Hey you over there. Yes, you! This is kindly for you. I hope this letter brings my concern to your gentle heart. Please give it a minute or two, or perhaps a few minutes of your golden time. This is for everyone and for no one in particular. This letter is to my leader whom I hoped would hand me a ladder to my dreams; to the rich of Mombasa whom I wished would stretch their hand in the pursuit of supporting me; to my neighbour whom I believed to help me when in need. Don’t be mistaken, this is definitely for you just as it is for anyone else. THIS…is to whoever it may concern.

Mombasa. The place with the most beautiful sunset on earth; the area of undeniably eye catching blue waters and ever-green palm trees bowing down to you, a region of rich and deep culture which we inherited from diverse tribes and races; the place we forever will cherish. This is home sweet home.

This city has grown so much over the years and the changes can’t be defied. We have grown to be like the mysterious city where all we can see is the sickening mixture of success and failure; unity and selfishness; joy and grief. The Mombasa that the older generations knew of was the one that had a vision; a vision that was later diluted with the lethargic nature of the current generations. All we have now is a mishap of ideas within the community where everyone talks but no one acts. The great say, an idea is only when it is implemented. There are many ideas but the implementation remains a far-stretched theory. So where are we heading to when all we do is jog at the same spot year in year out?

We have now inherited a multi-cultural personality which would be to a great advantage if we could join our thoughts of religions and education system to be unified. Truly, love for your people is not bought-it is gained through community awareness and progress. So how much do we really lose if we put aside all our differences of social class, religion, tribe and whatever else that separates us from the ultimate success?

I have always been amused to hear of how the Mombasa we know of was during old times; how everyone was a brother to another even when there was no blood relation, whereby a neighbour could punish another neighbour’s child for some wrongdoing, how people would support each other in weddings and funerals; it all sounds like Mombasa was this one big family where everyone knew everyone but it didn’t just end at the knowing each other, it went further to deeply expose the brotherhood and unity that was there. All this harmony and peace was suddenly grabbed from us by the unknown and all we are left with are skeletons from the past.

The blessed month of Ramadhan; the month of mercy and forgiveness, has always displayed the golden hearts of our people in a platter. There is the great sense of unity and love as we join hands in this glorious month and it is so touching to see ourselves remember the poor, do charity in abundance, remember our neighbours for the first time in months, visit the sick, join hands to do community work and so much more. This doesn’t just define us as religious beings only; it defines us as a community. It shows our real potential and ability to do a great job to reap fruits for our people. It is out of the prayers that I have that I am hoping that this unity could be extended throughout the other eleven months; not just for our sake but for the betterment of our children too.

It is high time we embraced our fears and grief; it is due time we stopped stigmatizing the homeless child that lies on the dirty road with nothing but a piece of torn cloth to cover the body, the poor old frail man who owns nothing but the soul in him, the woman who wakes up before dawn and walks for miles in search for any random duty to make her ends meet, the man who struggles to push an overloaded rickshaw as he sweats profusely under the bright sun; this man who would probably just cough one day and spit blood and becomes his doomed end. It is important for us to tackle our egos and have a more gentle view on others. We need to appreciate every minor character in this tale of Mombasa; all these people we ignore and sometimes abuse, yet they are the growing power of our town.

Let’s turn our focus on the moral rot and impunity in our region; let us put our energy together in fighting all odd and immoral trends that make us walk face-down in shame. Let us fight for our once most peaceful environment. We have to bring back our love for each other, the harmony, the tranquility, our traditions, our language; that Coastal flavour that we can never find anywhere else.

Just as I want to be a Kenyan proud to be a Kenyan for what Kenya does for Kenyans, I want to be overly proud to be a Coasterian for what the Coast does for the Coasterians to gain ultimate success as a unified County. Let us all unite; be it Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Atheist; be it rich or poor; be it literate or illiterate. This is the time to join hands.

My bottom line is just; peace, love and unity once again for us all.

Yours faithfully,

Lubnah Abdulhalim.

(A citizen of Mombasa)

Photo Courtesy: Unknown

The Coastal wedding is not only an event of family gathering but also a deep cultural affair. It is one of the most prioritized events in the Swahili community which is one of the largest language groups in Coast and these cultural events can be very interesting. Once a man has come forward to the lady’s family to bring his proposal, then that is just the beginning of the Swahili weddings. The engagement event itself has a lot of merry and the lady’s family prepare with different kinds of foods and more to that; mashairi are recited to the bridegroom’s family to show the great joy that is joining the two families. Dowry is discussed whereby the two families negotiate on the amount of money, property or furniture to be paid to the bride.

Swahili weddings are quite similar to the Arab traditions of weddings since there is said to be a blood relation and connection between the two tribes. The Swahili elders are said to save money, utensils and even gold special for such an event in the family. This just shows to what extent this event is important to them.
A Swahili wedding is never complete without the numerous tasty foods served for the guests and most importantly, for the men of the two families which is known as ‘chakula cha mkono’ which is normally prepared by the bride’s family. The foods include mikate ya sinia, vitumbua, sambusa, kebabs, vilosa amongst others. And of course biriani being majority’s favourite doesn’t miss out for the lunch event. The recipes have not changed over the years and they really display the Swahili culture in depth.The families prepare themselves by making arrangements of the initial wedding day. The women apply the ‘piko’ and ‘henna’ at their arms and legs which are the most likeable adornment amongst the Swahili culture. Shopping for the bride are done immediately while the men share duties on the wedding program. The Swahili women have always been known for the colourful and glittery attires and jewellery that they wear during the event without forgetting the complicated hairstyles everyone prepares for uniquely.



Photo Courtesy: lifeinmombasa.com


Most of the times, the event occurs in a hall or sometimes at home grounds. Some families send invitations through cards while others send family members in small groups to invite other guests. This has always been according to the pockets of the family and how big or small a wedding is going to be. The hall is usually decorated in such an attractive way with colourful designs with a couch or comfortable seat placed on a stage for the bride and groom when they arrive.

The initial wedding event is the ‘nikah’ ceremony which is mostly done at the mosque whereby the bridegroom is asked for the consent of the marriage while the bride is represented by her father or brother or uncle in the father’s absence. The women are usually located in a place near the mosque whereby they hear the Imam or Kadhi asking for the consent. This is done according to the Islam religion since majority of the Swahili are known Muslims. Both the bride and the groom are asked to give their consent thrice to ensure that no one forced them in to agreeing. Halwa and kahawa sometimes with meat is usually served during this event.

After that, the men are served their food separately while women have their other events going on like a lunch party ‘the shinda’ whereby the women wear the same kind of clothes ‘sare’ to show solidarity amongst them, ‘kupamba’ and ‘kesha’ whereby the latter are commonly done during the night to wee hours of the morning. The Swahili weddings are commonly characterized with the ‘tarab’ songs and a lot of dancing and thus, usually, no men are allowed in the area.

The climax of the event is when the bride arrives at the hall where the merry is taking place. She is made to sit at a special seat or couch on a stage where everyone can see her. Not long after that, the bridegroom comes along. The guests and all family members have a photo session with the couple where lots of pictures are taken with the ones present. The bridegroom then takes away his wife after a long tiring night at the event.

The bride is advised and given tips on the new marriage life she is about to begin and the couple is usually regarded as newlyweds until the first child is born or after a certain period of time has passed. The bride is also given so many presents to start her life and mostly it includes house utensils, jewellery and clothes especially the leso which is very common amongst the Swahili.

The Mijikenda weddings also have quite some similarities with the wedding programs of the Swahili and thus, have an aura of the unity at the coast. If you haven’t been to one, then make an effort to get an invitation. For sure, it is an eye catching event; that you will always remember.