TO DENOTE THE CULTURE

Lamu residents want government to name all Island streets

This will reduce incidences of visitors getting lost and not able to trace their way back to the hotels

In Summary

•Speaking on Monday, a group of locals, activists and elders said it would be prudent to name them for ease of visitors movement.

•Only two streets on the island have been named, namely Harambee avenue which is the major street in the old town and Kenyatta road.

Lamu island residents have appealed to the county government to name all the island streets and pathways to reduce incidents of visitors getting lost.

Speaking on Monday, a group of locals, activists and elders said it would be prudent to name them for ease of visitors movement.

They, however, want all the names of the streets to denote the culture of Lamu as a way of paying homage to the old town.

“Those of us who were born here can navigate and get anywhere without a hassle but it has been an issue for visitors and tourists as they keep getting lost and have to be escorted around. We want the naming to happen and it should pay respect to our culture,” elder Mohamed Alwy said.

Activist Is’haq Khatib said naming the streets of the island will not appeal to and attract tourists but will also help sell the region to the world as the perfect tourist destination.

“Sometimes I believe even marketing the old town is hard as there are no names of streets or roads to be referred to which means people out there do not really get the real picture of this place. If the naming happens, then it is bound to change the entire way of the world looks at Lamu island,” Khatib said.

The island is home to the Lamu old town, a Unesco world heritage that was listed in 2011 owing to its uniquely preserved heritage and culture spanning decades.

The old town, a major tourist attraction, is one of the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlements in East Africa as it has had thousands of inhabitants way before other coastal areas didn’t.

However, in recent times, there have been numerous reports of tourists and visitors getting lost while strolling around the island due to lack of labelled streets and pathways.

No vehicles are allowed on the island and so tourists and visitors have to get around on foot.

Only two streets on the island have been named namely Harambee avenue which is the major street in the old town and Kenyatta road.

Residents have also urged the county government to control the immense western habits and lifestyles that have slowly found their way into the old town.

Lamu has equally been listed on the Unesco Watchlist for World monuments as being under threat from westernization and risks being delisted for that.

Elder Ali Gubo said westernization is the biggest threat facing the old town at the moment and called for prompt measures to stop the same.

Major threats to Lamu old town’s Unesco status is the introduction of the Boda Boda business back in 2017.

There are over 300 bikes on the island at the moment.

There are also at least 10 tuk-tuk vehicles in the town.

There is also the issue of business stalls and kiosks that continue to sprout along the seafront.

Residents have also complained about the introduction of western dress codes and most notoriously the miniskirt.

The island is home to over 10,000 people.

 

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris