As the sun plunges into the westerly end of the ocean in slow motion, basketball-like, beyond the weather-beaten skyscrapers and slow-moving traffic, way beyond the docked masses of iron, further, further beyond the nondescript fusion of sea and sky, Mombasa undergoes a gradual metamorphosis as the world elsewhere closes its mouth for the night.
Lethargic day life paves way for an exuberant night life soon as the hint of the sun is swept off the sky. Shop corridors and pavements which were otherwise dull during the day light up, tables and chairs dragged from back rooms as workers in sagging tight jeans, plastic sandals, and earphones dangling from their ears clean away the day-time madness, pouring soapy water on the pavements which suck it in pretty fast having being dehydrated the entire day by Mombasa’s unforgiving heat. Continue reading The Ghosts of 1589
Webs of lines are etched deeply into his face. A set of languid, deeply burrowed eyes tell the tale of a man tortured by life. If you pick a random event from precolonial Kenya, this man was probably a little older than that. With each hunching movement he clenches his gum and complains that a terrible ache pierces his back ‘like needles’. The elderly man had long forgotten what it felt to have joints that moved with ease without torturing him with a sting of pain.
As I help him onto a well-aged three- legged seat under a towering palm-tree, he lets out a shriek like a man who had stepped on thorns. This man is a member of a little Known Pemba community living in the Kenyan Coast. Continue reading Strangers in their own land.
‘Someone in Africa Loves You’ (English version)
Written by Alexander Nderitu
The tall blonde girl didn’t come to East Africa on safari,
She was an Oxford student majoring in History
And wanted to see the sites involved in slavery
And the relics of Arab-Portuguese rivalry.
I first spied her walking alone by the swaying sea
And something about her just jumped up and bit me.
I asked her her name and she said, ‘Suzanne…with an “e”.’ Continue reading Someone in Africa Loves You
A few months ago, we did a call out seeking short fiction submissions from Coastal writers and the feedback was amazing, considering that Hekaya is a relatively new name in the coastal writing scene. The main aim of setting up this platform is to amplify coastal voices by publishing prose, poetry and portraiture from the region which spans from Mogadishu all the way down to the Kiswahili-speaking part of Northern Mozambique, largely because the people from these region share a whole lot in common.
For instance, Kiswahili is a common language here. In matters, dressing, the Kikoi is a common attire, differing only in style such that it would be easy to tell a Somali kikoi from its Lamu counterpart. The Chakacha and Taarab music from Mombasa differs only in tone from the one in The Comoros.
Please download the anthology here
The region has also given birth to globally acclaimed scholars of language and literature like the late Professor Ali Mazrui, Professor Abdulatif Abdallah, Professor Alamin Mazrui, Professor Rayya Timamy, Professor Rocha Chimera, Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah from Zanzibar, Ngala Chome, Ali Attas, Alwi Shatry to name but a few. Continue reading Jihadi brides: A short story anthology from the Coast.
Mrs. Mwanaidi Juma is seated in front of her rectangular makeshift hut. A few meters from her is a warm open hearth beside an old towering coconut tree. On her right there are three monster mango trees that allow the late afternoon sun rays to permeate and dance on her face.
Her new neighbor Mrs. Lulu Rashid has visited her for the first time. Standing on a snaking root of one of the mango trees, Lulu drinks tea from an old plastic cup as she listens keenly to her host.
“You see this tree,” Mwanaidi says, towards the gigantic coconut tree while shielding her eyes from the sunrays. “It was the first one we planted together in nineteen-eighty-two.” Continue reading The Digo widow
Outside, the men are about to perform ablution required before acts of worship, washing their faces and limbs. I listen to them as they make the niyya-intention to do ablution and recite, ‘’Bismillāh i’r Rahmān i’r Rahīm. In the Name of Allâh, the Beneficent, the Merciful.’’
Syria is hot. I always thought Mombasa my hometown was hot but this heat beats the dense humidity of my coastal hometown in Kenya. The midday scorching sun makes the black hijab covering my head and face feel like a hot iron-box and I’m sweating profusely. Peeping from my veil, I catch a glimpse of the men doing ablution intent on purifying themselves, yet I know no matter how much they scrub, they can’t purify themselves of their filth. Continue reading Jihadi Brides
Rose stared at the clock wishing it could move quickly so that she could live her life. The time had finally come to appear before the Church Council. She had been accused of many things and wrong doings. This was the time to set the record straight. The provost at the reception of the church office had served her with nice lemon tea and snacks and informed her that she would beckon her to go in at exactly four thirty. Rose loved tea, lemon tea and she wondered how the provost knew this. Continue reading Three counts of Rose
It was a warm Saturday morning; an ideal time to divorce oneself from demanding tasks. James was listening to the subtle sounds of nature when a shadow obstructed the warm rays of sunshine on his face.
‘James,’ he heard his mother speak from above him.
‘Yes mum?’ he responded without as much as cracking an eye open.
‘We are heading for a meeting at the Kombo’s and then we will go and see a farm near them,’ she said.
‘Town or the farm?’ he asked lazily.
‘Out of town,’ she replied. Continue reading Not like that
I met him at club Fly So Fly where I had ceased being a butterfly having suffered a broken neck after falling head first from a stripper pole, an incidence I had seen coming- I have terrible eye-hand coordination by the way- and just like that I fell from a remunerative stripper to a mere call girl.
He sat there, hunched over his drink, studying it like it held within its sparkle the solution to a profound mystery, twiddling the glass before taking a quick draw, withdrawing his lips slowly from the glass. Savoring his drink, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a phone, its brightness illuminating his face. He looked sad, aloof, like he had been forced to sit there by a power he couldn’t resist, unlike everyone else who seemed to have merged into the atmosphere of the club. Continue reading The client