“Lamu offers up, alive and in the very street, its Swahili soul in its purest form, in the reality of a society which is integrated and sure of itself. Its character has the air of a Utopia rescued from the past or an ideal Arcadia”.
Africa’s Dream, Javier Reverte
The word “Lamu” comes from the Arabic word Sawahil, meaning coast.
The meeting of African and Arabic cultures and the arrival of the European explorers and Indian merchants have had a strong influence on the shaping of a style, a language and a set of traditions. It was in this way that a sophisticated and unique way of life was created, which remains to this day, unchanged by the passing of time and still fascinating to all those lucky enough to discover it.
"The history goes back centuries"
"The Fort of Lamu"
"Clothes according to the Islamic tradition"
"The drums of matandoni"
"Formerly used as cargo ship"
"People of merchants and fishermen"
The story of Lamu goes back centuries. It is the oldest and best preserved Swahili settlement on the east coast of Africa. Lamu Island is a truly unique place in the world where it is possible to discover the Swahili culture and way of life, isolated here from the outside world, with its old buildings from the glory years still intact and the Swahili lifestyle living on in its old streets.
Thanks to its remote geographic location and the natives determination to maintain their culture, Lamu is one of the most important places to the survival of the Swahili culture on the east coast of Africa.
Kiswahili is the language of the Swahilis and is spoken throughout a large part of Africa, including here in Lamu. We have prepared a list for you, containing some phrases and words that you may find useful during your stay in Lamu.
One of the most important characteristics of Lamu, and one that has had a strong influence upon its history, is its climate, always dictated by the tides of the Indian Ocean, with the winds and the annual monsoon marking the rhythms of trade. We invite you to find out more and to discover which are the best months to visit depending on the particular activities that you want to do here in Lamu.