Manda Island

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Manda is an island of the Lamu Archipelago of Kenya, known for the prosperous 9th century ports of Takwa and Manda town. The island is now linked by ferry to Lamu and is home to Manda Airport, while Manda Toto island lies to its west. The island is separated from the mainland by the narrow Mkanda channel.

Both Manda town and Takwa were probably abandoned due to lack of water in the first half of the 19th century. In the 1960s the Kenya Department of Agriculture recommended building several concrete catchments called jabias to capture rain water on the island. Two jabias were built and many families moved onto the island, farming maize, cassava, simsim and cotton.

Manda town


The Manda town ruins (by the coast on the NW side), were first explored by the archaeologist Neville Chittick in 1965. The town owed its origins in the 9th and 10th centuries to trade with the Persian Gulf. The chief trading commodity was probably elephant ivory, mangrove poles were probably also important. From the earliest period the inhabitants of Manda were building with burnt square brick and stone and set with a lime mortar. These building techniques are only found on the coast and on the islands of Kenya, they have not been used in the interior of the country, whereas the bricks averaging about 18 cm (which "match perfectly measure") are unique for East Africa for this period, and...
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