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Re-discovering the soul of Swahili tradition

April 6, 2008


Lamu StreetOn Lamu Island, just off the coast of Kenya, a foray into the past is made possible by present-day planning decisions. Traveling the streets on foot or by donkey (no cars are allowed) or sailing the waters in a dhow, you’ll discover a culture that is a dynamic blend of African and Arab heritage. This discovery is no accident, but rather something the Lamu World Heritage Site and Conservation Office set out to preserve and protect.

The island and town of Lamu are heir to a distinctive tradition that is over a thousand years old. Lamu Old Town dates back to at least the 12th century; it is one of the original Swahili city states of East Africa formed by Arab traders. It is also one of the oldest settlements in Kenya and the only coastal settlement to retain its original character.

Workshop participants will be helping preserve one of the few remaining historic residences within the old town that is still owned and inhabited by a local family. The building’s ground floor, built in the traditional style, is in poor condition. The floor above was built recently using modern cement sand mortar and coral blocks. In this demonstration project, workshop leaders will highlight how poorly executed upward expansions may cause damage to the original coral rag structures.Lamu Courtyard

The workshop will be two weeks in length and participants may register for either one or two weeks. The cost is US$1115 for one week and US$1480 for two weeks, which covers lodging, breakfast and lunch (dinners not included), insurance, fieldtrips, workshop materials and instruction. A special rate is available for residents of African countries, who must register directly with the Lamu World Heritage Site and Conservation Office. Transportation to the workshop is not included and is the responsibility of the participant.

Dates: 8 -21 February 2009

Webpage for more details:


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