DAY 5: FORTRESS OF POWER [A TRAVELLER’S DIALOGUE WITH ANTIQUITIES]

Oman invasion of the Fort Jesus.

After 25 hours of tedious journeying, we made it to our final destination, Mombasa, and craved some sound resting.  Though, in an attempt to enjoy Mombasa’s heritage more, we decided to walk to our desired choice of site; Fort Jesus, the next day.  The walk was both fulfilling and full of unexpected encounters, one of which included one of our own being ruthlessly attacked by a local on the street. But that did not deter our excitement. At our arrival at the fort, a man approached us and introduced himself as Musa Mansur, a resident of Old Town and one of the designated tour guides of the Fort.

A snippet of the Portuguese arsenal.

Fort Jesus, built and originally inhabited by the Portuguese in the late 1500s, was a fortress for protection against their foes. Being Christians, this greatly influenced the name of the Fort along with its shape. It is shaped like the human body and at each corner of the Fort was a watch tower from which the Portuguese would be able to see their enemies from miles away. Unfortunately, their fate was condemned.

Remains of the Church that was used by the Portuguese.

Portuguese reign over the fort was cut short by an Arab invasion that saw them lose what they had worked so earnestly for. The Arabs emerged victorious and hence forth were the new inhabitants of the Fort. This siege came with new changes at the Fort, one which included increasing the height of the walls encompassing the Fort. Musa jokes lightly about this, attributing this change to the Arabs being a stronger power in form of human height as well.

Wall carvings by the Portuguese.

We moved on to a passage, one that Musa reveals was used by the Portuguese as a route for their war cargo. He however went on to reveal the change of purpose of this route during the reign of the Arabs which was slavery.  He also showed us two rooms where the slaves were held as they awaited shipment off the continent, with little or no hope of return, the moods getting sombre at this revelation. We all begin imagining the dark lives the slaves were destined for and for a brief moment, we were lost in reverie.

Fate of the Africans during the Arab reign.

Proceeding to the old kitchen that is now used by the government as a craft shop. All we could do is marvel at the beautiful crafts and woodwork, and the fascinating paintings that make some of us desire the presence of one of these paintings in our homes.

Comparing this encounter with our previous encounters, we can only ponder upon the never ending struggle for power irrespective of the times and the setting.  We all want to have the utmost power, and this great fort is a true testament to the struggle. We await our next adventure, Old Town, and how all these affected the prosperity of this small setting.

#ATraveller’sDialogueWithAntiquities

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