Historical Sites

The Story of Mnarani Ruins

Historical sites are a great way for one to go back into the past and relive the history and Mnarani ruins is a great place to start from if you ever find yourself in Kilifi. As a people we need to catch a glimpse of what happened before, so that if we made a mistake in the past, it might not be repeated. We have to remember so that we are not subjected to live in the past.

I jumped onto a motorbike on a pretty hot Friday afternoon and with my bodaboda guy, breezed away through the Kilifi bridge as I took in the beautiful view towards Mnarani ruins. You have to note that most people might not know exactly where the ruins are but you can always let them know it’s after the bridge on your way to Mombasa or immediately before the bridge from Mombasa. The

The Kilifi bridge as seen from the ruins

The entrance fee is kshs. 100 which caters for access to the snake park which is a small area really, and the ruins.

These are basically remains of an early settlement that is believed to have been in existence since the 14th century and named Mnarani because of the minaret which is known as “mnara” in Swahili. The prominent features of this area are the two remnant mosques, the tombs, baobab trees, the nature trails, a snake park and views since the ruins overlook the Kilifi creek where the ferry used to pass before the bridge was built.

One of the tombs

This place is rich in history as evidenced by how the tour guide feeds you in with so much information. The guide I got was so generous with information and won’t tire from speaking it out. So, the construction of small mosque started early in the 15th century while the great mosque late 15th century and early into the 16th century. The place was apparently used for facilitating slave trade by the Arabs and holding up slaves (which explains why it was attacked later on).

The great mosque

In the 17th century, The Galla (Oromo) attacked the area after finding out their people were being held as slaves and the Arabs were planning to sell them overseas. They burned down the whole area and it is said some of the people went to hide in the first mosque- later on 12 lamps were found at the site. The 12 lamps story sounded weird to me but wait, here’s the weirdest part- The people who survived the raid, were either killed or….taken as slaves.

The small mosque

The baobab trees were and are still used by some people for worshipping and performing rituals and they are believed to be more than 700 years old, imagine that!

12 people can surround this baobab tree while holding hands

One thing to note is that the temperatures can be really high thus dress easy and carry light. This is an ideal place for just hanging out with a loved one or even a solo visit. When you do, soak in the ambience of the ruins and rich history.


Article edited by Nova Waithaka

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