Historic Sites at the Coast

Historic Sites in Kwale County

8. Shirazi

Shirazi, also known as Kifundi, is a pleasant little village at the edge of a sea channel about 3 kms from the highway. About 100 metres or less south of Shirazi village is a mosque and one or more tombs in dense bush. There are two wells, one south of the mosque that is still used by the people of the village, and an old well in the bush east of the mosque. The mosque is in extremely ruined condition, all walls and the qibla fallen except for a short portion of the north wall. On the outside it is seen that the north wall stands to a height of about two metres, demonstrating that the mosque is deep in rubble. The central musalla measures about 4-60 metres wide by 6.90 metres long. There is a niche on the east end of the north wall and a small window on the west end. The mihrab was framed by an architrave that on its lower faces was plain. There was probably a capital, below which the facade seems to have been plain. 200 metres north of Shirazi, about 150 metres from the high tide line sits a second mosque, in ruins.

9. Munge Ruins

The ruins at Munge consist of two mosques, one on a hill overlooking a little beach and the sea and the other about half a kilometre back from the sea in some shambas. The Munge mosque in the shambas is built upon a little hill and overlooks the surrounding land by a metre or two. The mosque consists of a central chamber, eastern and western flanking rooms, a southern chamber and an area delimited by a western peripheral wall. About 9 metres northwest of the mihrab is a well that does not appear to be used. Some sections of the mosque still stand, as does the mihrab, although this is tilting precariously to the north.

10. Gazi Ruins

Gazi was in the 19th Century the headquarters of Mbarak bin Rashid al Kazrui, whose palace with a carved wooden door may still be seen today. About 3 kms southeast of Gazi is a ruined mosque on the Khan farm. It appears to have been a three room type, with an eastern anteroom about 2.60 ms wide and a western room about 2.20 metres wide flanking the musalla, which measures 3-5 metres wide by 7.6 metres long. Enough low sections of the eastern wall of the musalla stand to indicate there were two doorways into the musalla. The western side is more crumbled although a section of the musalla wall may be seen at the south.

11. Galu Ruins

Galu ruins is a large walled compound similar in design to Tumbe, although it is located upon a hill rather than at the sea. It is a walled enclosure, approximately square, with western and eastern gatehouses. The western entry is in slightly better condition than the other but both structures reveal a two room ground plan. The former structure was two storied, as was probably the latter. Inside the compound is a well located about midway between the gatehouses; it is still in use. In the middle of the north and south walls were salient circular bastions with holes placed to allow enfilade fire across the northern and southern walls.

12. Ukunda Mosque

Ukunda Mosque, the remains of a single mosque may be found near the large baobab tree protected by presidential decree at Ukunda. It is a structure with eastern and probably western rooms flanking the musalla and with another room to the south. The musalla measures 5-20 metres wide by 8.95 metres long; the eastern room is about 2.10 metres wide. A section of the eastern wall survives and suggests that there were two eastern doorways opening into that chamber. At the northwest edge of the mosque is a tomb, just off the north wall.

13. Kongo Mosque

Also known as Tiwi Mosque, this 14th Century Arab Masjid originally known as Diani Persian Masjid, is thought to be one of the oldest in Eastern Africa. Most parts of its unusual copula or barrel vault have remained almost intact for many centuries. Remarkably, Kongo Mosque is still used day-to-day as a community Masjid. This ancient Masjid set next to the lovely Tiwi Beach and the scenically-splendid creek where enormous baobab trees stand sentinel, depicts the style of early Islamic Mosques. The flanking rooms were roofed with domes, and the three rear rooms were covered by four longitudinal barrel vaults. The doorways are simple archways, as in the mihrab, which opens without adornment from the wall plane into an unaecorated apse. This stark mihrab design was seen in the mosque by the sea at Munge and, in northern Lamu, in the mosque of the pillar at Shanga. “West of the mosque are walled courtyards, and to the north are five or more tombs, labelled A-E on the accompanying illustration. Tombs B, C, and D are interesting because they have basal curbs, but more particularly because they are rather large and are approximately square, or measure slightly longer on the east and west sides than on the north and south sides. Only tomb B was panelled, on the east side only, above which was a frieze of niches.” Tomb C might have been a step end tomb. It is located near Amani Tiwi Beach Resort.

View of Kongo Mosque at Tiwi Beach.  Photo Courtesy
View of Kongo Mosque at Tiwi Beach. Photo Courtesy of Jumuiya News

14. Twiga Mosque

Not far northeast of the ruins of the “Mosque and houses of Kirima”, and only a few metres off the road between the highway and Twiga Lodge, is a small ruined mosque popular as the Twiga mosque. A part of the south wall stands but all other walls have fallen. A portion of the qibla survives under a tree, the roots of which twine throughout the masonry. Its facade has fallen, but there seem to have been several recessed orders under a capital. At the northeast corner of the masjid is a tomb with an arched window. It’s found 510 ms south of Tiwi Beach.