Nestled in the tropical paradise of Mtwapa, along the shimmering shores of the Indian Ocean, lies the mysterious and captivating Jumba La Mtwana. Translating to “Mansion of the Slaves” in Kiswahili, Jumba La Mtwana is a breath-taking blend of history and nature.
James Kirkman excavated Jumba La Mtwana in 1972 and opened it to the public in 1973. The Kenyan government gazetted Jumba La Mtwana as a national monument in 1982 and protects it under the Antiquities and Monuments Act. The National Museums of Kenya manages Jumba La Mtwana.
This once thriving Swahili town, now a shadow of its former self, spreads across 12 acres of lush vegetation with towering baobab trees and a pristine beach as its backdrop.
The date of construction is still being determined, but it is estimated to have been built between the 14th and 15th centuries. It was later abandoned in the 15th century for unknown reasons. Possible causes for the town’s abandonment include disease outbreaks, changes in trade routes, and natural disasters. Some believe the residents may have relocated to nearby towns or other parts of the country for better trade opportunities.
Features of Jumba La Mtwana
Visitors can explore the remnants of four ancient mosques, four domestic houses, and a tomb, all of which offer a glimpse into the daily life of the Swahili people who lived there over 600 years ago. Excavations of the site have uncovered several artefacts’, including decorated local pottery, shell beads, imported Chinese and Islamic ceramics, and glass beads, all of which provide insight into the maritime trade that flourished in the area. The “House of Many Doors” is believed to have been a hub of activity, hosting visiting traders who waited for favourable winds in the Indian Ocean. A small gallery showcases a collection of fascinating artefacts, including silver jewellery, boat-making tools, and Chinese ceramics, offering visitors a deeper understanding of the cultural heritage of the Jumba ruins.
In addition to its rich history and cultural significance, Jumba La Mtwana is also a vital site for sea turtle conservation. The pristine beach and lush vegetation provide a secluded refuge for the Green Turtle and Hawksbill Turtle to nest and lay their eggs.
These turtle species, the Green Turtle and Hawksbill Turtle, frequently nest on Kenya’s shores, with Jumba La Mtwana serving as one of the 22 known nesting beaches.
Activities to be enjoyed
Visitors can enjoy various activities at Jumba La Mtwana, including guided tours, photography, hiking, birdwatching, swimming, and picnicking. The peaceful atmosphere and beautiful surroundings make it an ideal spot to relax and enjoy nature.
The admission fee for adults is KSH 100 for citizens, KSH 400 for residents, and KSH 500 for non-residents. For those under 16 years of age, the admission fee is KSH 50 for citizens, KSH 200 for residents, and KSH 250 for non-residents.
The site is open from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
For more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Justine Mudzomba at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 0713942881.
Mtwapa, Kilifi County, Kenya.
Extra resource: Museums of kenya