Ruins of Gedi
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From the 13th or 14th to 17th centuries, Gedi was a thriving community along the jungle coast of East Africa. Although no written record exists of this town, excavations between 1948 and 1958 revealed that the Muslim inhabitants traded with people from all over the world. Some of the findings included beads from Venice, coins and a Ming vase from China, an iron lamp from India, and scissors from Spain. The population was estimated to exceed at least 2500 people. These items can be found in the museum in the complex which was opened in 2000.
Gedi had a mosque, a palace, and large stone houses. These houses were complex for their time, with bathrooms with drains and overhead basins to flush toilets. The city's streets were laid out at right angles and had drainage gutters. There are also wells which supplied water to the community. The material used to construct the buildings was made from coral reef from the nearby ocean.
In the early 16th century, the village was abandoned. A possible explanation was that a punitive expedition came from Mombasa against Malindi and forced the inhabitants to leave. A temporary reoccupation likely occurred by the nomadic Oromo tribe from Somalia in the late 16th century, who later abandoned the town.
It is unclear whether the actual name of the town was Gedi, Gede, or Kilimani. The Oromo word "Gede" means "precious", but the town might have been named after the last Oromo leader to camp on the site.
The area was gazetted as a National Monument in 1927. In 1948, the remains of Gedi were declared a Kenyan national park. The ruins continue to be a popular tourist destination. Recently a tree house has been constructed in the center of the complex, around a giant tree near the main palace ruins. The site is usually open till 6 pm. There is also a small shop to buy drinks and souvenirs.
According to local tradition, the ruins are protected by the spirits of its priests. These "Old Ones" supposedly curse anyone who harms the site or removes anything.
- James Kirkman. 1975. Gedi. Historical monument. Museum Trustees of Kenya, Nairobi.
- James Kirkman. 1963. Gedi, the palace. Studies in African history, Mouton, Den Haag.
- James Kirkman. 1954. The Arab City of Gedi. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- (German) Rudolf Fischer. 1984. Korallenstädte in Afrika. Die vorkoloniale Geschichte der Ostküste. Edition Piscator, Oberdorf. pp. 107–121.
- Eric P. Mitchell. 2011. "Gedi: The Lost City Revisited" World Explorer Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 33–36.