The Swahili context Mombasa, the Old Town and Kibokoni

Kai Kresse

in Philosophising in Mombasa

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780748627868
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652976 | DOI:
The Swahili context Mombasa, the Old Town and Kibokoni

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This chapter presents a brief sketch of the history of Mombasa and of the current socio-economic situation of the City and its Old Town. First, it discusses two central features of the Swahili context in relation to each other, the potential of social integration, and the status-centred self-conception. Strictly speaking, they seem to contradict each other while claiming to represent the key feature of social dynamics in the Swahili context. Both the ideology of hierarchy and the process of social integration have been mentioned in the abundant literature on ‘Swahili identity’. The chapter argues argue that both crucial features of the Swahili context are somehow epitomised in the social history of Mombasa. Second, it helps to clarify why the ‘Swahili’ category is elusive and yet seemingly inevitable. Third, the chapter describes the living conditions in the Old Town of Mombasa during the time of the fieldwork.

Keywords: self-conception; social integration; social dynamics; Mombasa; Swahili identity

Chapter.  14008 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: African Studies

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