Lamu Travel Blog› entry 27 of 81 › view all entries
Days of festivities had already begun - to celebrate Maulidi, the prophet Mohammed's upcoming birthday. It was the busiest time of year for the island and the narrow corridors of Lamu Town crowded with Muslims from all over the continent, the Middle East, and the world. From the hill-top water tank, Scott and I scanned the Indian Ocean and Lamu Town for awhile then followed the pounding of African drums to the mosque area.
Spectators crowded one roped-off arena where two turban-clad men swayed in staggering circles. They wielded silver swords in mock battle, lunging and jabbing at each other until one eventually admitted defeat. Those older fighters seemed more skilled and daring with swords swishing just millimeters from their opponents head or torso.
In a small courtyard behind the mosque, a cow was being butchered. Another laid on its side with its feet tied together watching the slaughter through eyes bulged in horror, probably knowing that it was next. The animal pounded its head against the ground while licking the tail of its dead mate. Together, they would provide a Maulidi feast.
At another event near the mango- and coconut-farmer's stalls, men danced in a wide circle.
A man dressed in white Arab robes, a red and white checkered headdress, and blue Nike tennis shoes approached us. A younger, shaven Yasser Arafat came to mind. Scott and I stared into familiar-looking eyes for several uneasy moments before the man blurted out, "How's it goin'?" It was Mark, an American we had met on the south coast. Walking down the hill along rough coral walls, we sensed how Gedi, Malindi, and Mombasa must have looked hundreds of years ago when they were booming trade towns. As we entered Harambee Street, seeking samosas and Pepsis at the New Star Café, two Arabs greeted Mark with a solemn "Salaam…"