28 March 2009


The ruins of the ancient city of Gedi lie a short distance south of Malindi, Kenya.

Based upon the mosque and Islamic architecture, Gedi was an arab town dating from the 15th century. Some date the habitation of the town as early as the 12th-13th centuries. Archaeological evidence indicates trade with China although it was not an important enough center to be included in accounts of Arab, Swahili or Portuguese historians of the time.

Gedi was abandoned in the 16th century. It is uncertain as to the cause of this abandonment. The Galla, a fierce tribe that moved south from Somalia, occupied the site for a time in the 16th century and they, too, abandoned it.

In 1948 Gedi was made a national park. James Kirkman excavated the site in the 1960's and is one of the foremost authorities on the site.

Malindi Postscript

Most tourists visiting Malindi concentrate on the beaches or the monument Vasco da Gama built to commemorate his visit to Malindi in 1498. However, the pillar tomb near the Juma Mosque is a mystery that lives on today. It dates from the 15th century and is unlike anything found in other Muslim cemeteries. Some believe that it was built for deceased Portuguese. The significance of the pillar is unknown.

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