I made the most of my time in Lamu and tried to visit all the cultural and historical sites on and around the island including Lamu Museum. Lamu museum is located in a grand Swahili warehouse by the seafront not far from the old jetty.

Lamu Museum_entrance

 

Most of the ground floor is dedicated to the works of Muhammadi Kijuma. Muhammad bin Abubakr bin Omar Bakarii (commonly called Muhamadi Kijuma) was an outstanding man with many talents. As a scribe, calligrapher, poet, musician, dancer and wood-carver, he left traces in many fields. After having received only a rudimentary formal training, he took up the traditional craft of carving doors. Some of the doors carved by him can still be found in Lamu, like the door of the Lamu Museum.

Lamu Museum_Muhamadi

 

Lamu Museum_Muhamadi exhibit

 

The lute (kibangala) carved by Kijuma and was given to his friend Ernst Dammann ( a linguist) as a present.

Lamu Museum_Lute

 

In addition to the exhibition, there is some Swahili style furniture and a bathroom.

Lamu Museum_Bathtub

.

Lamu Museum

 

Lamu Museum_Chairs

 

Lamu Museum_Living room

 

Lamu Museum_Bathroom Slippers

Bathroom slippers, Swahili style

 

There is also a room dedicated to displaying items excavated from various historical sites along the coast of Kenya. Majority of the artefacts are excavated Chinese porcelain.

Lamu Museum_Chinese porcelain

 

Lamu Museum_Water pot

 

Lamu Museum_Pot2

 

A set of steps leads up to the second floor which contains a myriad of displays including items from the peoples of the coastal province of Kenya.

Lamu Museum_Pokomo1

 

Lamu Museum_Pokomo1 (2)

 

Lamu Museum_Boni culture

 

Lamu Museum_Boni culture1

 

Lamu Museum_Culture1

 

Lamu Museum_cultural exhibit1

 

The other displays on this floor include typical Swahili bedroom and kitchen.

Lamu Museum_bed

 

Lamu Museum_bed1

The bed in the room is a massive claw footed bed that someone as short as me would need a step ladder to get on. At the foot of the bed is another pair of slippers. I could resist trying them on and they were as uncomfortable as they look.

Lamu Museum_bedroom

 

Lamu Museum_bedroom2
There is also a display of a bride in the traditional garb and the man of the house, ready to partake in an array of delicacies.

Lamu Museum_bride

 

Lamu Museum_groom

Groom in room

 

The kitchen contains various items that would be found in a typical Swahili kitchen.

Lamu Museum_kitchen utensils1

To the far right there is a Mbuzi, a Coconut shredder. Coconut is a common addition to Swahili food. To the right of the shredder is a Kifumbu which is a strainer made of palm fronds used for squeezing coconut milk out of shredded coconut.

 

Lamu Museum_Kitchen3

 

Lamu Museum_kitchen utensils3

From left to right Jiwe la kusaga mahindi– stone for grinding maize, Jiwe la kusaga dawa– stone for grinding medicine and Kinu cha tambi: Wooden machine used for making spaghetti.

 

Lamu Museum_kitchen utensils

On the bottom shelf to the right is mchapo a wooden blender used for making ghee. On the right of the picture is an uteo– tray in the middle below the picture is a dele– a brass coffee pot

 

If you have ever visited the Coast you without a doubt seen a woman in a kanga, commonly known as a leso. A kanga is a colourful garment similar to mostly worn by women it is a piece of printed cotton fabric, about 1.5m by 1m, often with a border along all four sides (called pindo in Swahili), and a central part (mji) which differs in design from the borders. Kangas are usually bought and worn as a pair – called a “doti”. On the longest side of the border there is usually a Message in Swahili, these messages are often in the form of riddles, sayings, proverbs etc., e.g. Akiba haiozi whose literal meaning is Savings never go bad and whose most common meaning is ‘It’s always good to save or invest for the future.’

Lamu Museum_kanga

 

There is no missing the 2 model boats on display right in front of the doors leading to the balcony. The one with a square sail is a Mtepe. Unique to the Swahili culture of east Africa, Mtepes were built in the Lamu archipelago .The mtepe’s planks are held together by wooden pegs and coir so it is a sewn boat designed to be flexible in contrast to the rigid vessels of western technique.
Due to their construction Mtepes leaked copiously, so bailing was constant. It is recorded that, as a test for employment, a prospective crew member had to demonstrate his ability to lift a bailer full of water measuring 24″ in diameter and 9″ deep.

Lamu Museum_Boat

 

Lamu Museum_Boat1

 

Lamu Museum_Boat3

 

The museum’s balcony is the perfect place to end your tour. It offers great views of Lamu town and the seafront and there was also carved door that looked out of place but was beautiful nevertheless.

Lamu Museum_carved door

 

Lamu Museum_View from balcony

 

Lamu Museum_View from balcony1

 

Rates for the Swahili House Museum.

citizens

residents

non-residents

Adults

375 ($3)

1,500 ($14)

3,000 ($30)

below 16 years

180 ($1.5)

750 ($7)

1,500 ($15)

One ticket guarantees you entry into Lamu museum, the German post office museum and the Swahili House museum.
You do not really need a guide to enjoy your tour of the museum but it would enrich your experience if you get a knowledgeable one.
Make sure you ask for permission before taking any photos, I did so but midway through exploring a man came up to me and asked if I had been authorized to take photos.

 

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9 Comments

  1. May 7, 2016 at 7:00 am — Reply

    Just stunning, what more can I say. You have a beautiful eye.

  2. May 8, 2016 at 6:19 am — Reply

    I had no idea there was a museum on Lamu. My Dad visited Lamu a couple of years ago and I have seen all his videos but heard no mention of the museum.
    Sally@Toddlers on Tour recently posted…Tasting Our Way Around the Margaret River RegionMy Profile

  3. May 8, 2016 at 10:48 am — Reply

    Beautiful photos, Rachael! The building itself looks like it is worth a visit, but the pieces on display are incredible.
    jim@reflectionsenroute recently posted…The World Is On My SideMy Profile

  4. Iregi
    May 8, 2016 at 8:32 pm — Reply

    Love the museum façade.

  5. May 9, 2016 at 10:03 pm — Reply

    I hope you enjoy your stay in Lamu. Some of your indoor pictures of the museum are very good. The museum of Lamu looks worth a visit. #wkendtravelinspiration

  6. May 10, 2016 at 12:34 pm — Reply

    Wow – what a magical place and gorgeous pictures.

  7. May 10, 2016 at 7:50 pm — Reply

    Neat museum, I like the lyre and the bathroom sandals 😉 Looks like there is a lot of see and a good value with all the things included.
    Jessica @ Independent Travel Cats recently posted…Oak Alley Plantation: Our Overnight Stay at a Louisiana PlantationMy Profile

  8. May 30, 2016 at 6:01 pm — Reply

    Lamu is magical I must say.

  9. June 3, 2016 at 12:30 pm — Reply

    The museum looks well furnished with artifacts and looks well-labelled. 🙂
    Xx
    https://whisperywind.com/

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