Transported on Lamu




There came a time when Sendibada signed on with a strange sea captain. The next day, as dawn was breaking, the ship cast off, a strong breeze filling the lateen sails, and bearing them swiftly out to sea. But towards noon the wind died, and the boat drifted, becalmed, on still waters.

At this the captain strode out on the bridge, and began to utter words that Sendibada could not fathom. He stared and stared for, to his astonishment, the ship began to rise, graceful as an egret taking flight. Sendibada grinned. He liked a good adventure, and now it seemed this strange captain of his was none other than the most powerful magician.

Up into the clouds they soared, flying, flying until at last they saw a faraway red spot. But little by little the spot grew, until at last Sendibada saw it was a city in the sky, and that every house there was made of copper. Soon they set down in the harbour and, as the crew made to go ashore, from every quarter, lovely girls came out to greet them, bearing on their heads copper trays laden with the most delicious fruits and sweetmeats and tender roasted morsels.

And so it was that much time passed, the ship’s crew enjoying month after month of this most gracious hospitality. Sendibada, though, was growing homesick, and said as much. Now the magician gave him a round mat and told him how to use it.

Sendibada followed the instructions, placing the mat on the ground and seating himself upon it so that he faced the direction of his home town. Then he spoke the foreign words that meant: Behold! We shall all return to it . And at once the mat rose into the clouds, and faster than a diving hawk, set Sendibada back on the beach just outside his home town.

 copyright 2014 Tish Farrell

The Copper City  retold from a translated text in Jan Knappert’s Myths and Legends of the Swahili


P.S. In case you hadn’t guessed, Sendibada is the Swahili version of Sinbad.


A Word A Week challenge: transport

17 thoughts on “Transported on Lamu

  1. So lovely. I was transported away to the city of copper and then returned home on a round mat. What a great contribution to the transport challenge.

      1. Terrorism. The Al-Shaabab. They now target Lamu. They killed about 60 people in two days in June. And the government is powerless, as usual. Confused even. After the first massacre of 48 people, the president said it was Raila doing it, although Al-Shaabab had already acknowledged the act. More and more tension built between the Luo and the Kikuyu. Uhuru said that the Kikuyu are hated, that they are thought of as subhumans and will be wiped out! Can you believe it? He was trying to make us fight one another instead of condemning Al-Shaabab! But then Al-Shaabab attacked again. I think they target Lamu because of the port that is to be built there. The government, however, decided that the victims were only Kikuyus. Which was a barefaced lie. Terrorists do not choose. The Kikuyu politicians want to remain power by the only way they know–cause disunity and confusion amongst us. The immortal legacy of their predecessors. It is truly ugly, Tish. Another tribal war almost broke out in July when Raila had a rally at Uhuru Park. Now almost all the government appointments are Kikuyus because “there is a need to protect the vulnerable Kikuyu community”. Such shameless propaganda! Al-Shaabab still presumes on the chaos and stupidity to spread more terror at Lamu.

      2. Peter, this is truly wretched. What happened with the attempt to get Uhuru to the Hague to answer charges of war crimes? That he and his ilk can keep churning out the divisive lies. The notion of a port in Lamu must be like one big honeypot to a swarm of flies – thinking of all that those opportunities for new looting as per Mombasa. I am truly sorry about all this. It is so unnecessary. Kenya has such a wealth of potential – most of all in its hardworking citizens. The ghosts of Majimbo still haunt the place, an accursed British idea to protect the ‘White Highlands’.

      3. I think Uhuru has bribed his way out of ICC. I’m not sure his presidency will end before another war. But Kenyans shock me . . . I don’t know how anybody can be so gullible, Tish. It has gone so it’s frightening to reflect upon it. They suffer for five years, only to reelect the same devils. Over and over again so that when they complain, one is tempted to jeer at them. The tribal conflicts and the almost “unhuman” gullibility of the citizens are really what keep the government in power. Nothing else. If they did not instigate tribal animosities, they’d lose their seats. I once asked Kenyans in an article why they are ever so ready to kill their customers and sellers. The politicians do not shop from their markets. Those who shop there are the common wananchi. Yet these same they intend to slaughter. But you know people, Tish. Sometimes I think we are ever on a path to destroy ourselves. The entire humanity. We are suicidal. I may be convinced I’m working to destroy my neighbour yet it is myself I destroy in the end. My chief enemy being myself. I don’t know how it can be helped. I don’t know how any peace can be achieved in this country. The politicians have invested in our disunity. They will go to hellish lengths to protect their investments.

      4. Oh, about the Lamu conflict. There was talk about the Kikuyu that were settled there by Jomo Kenyatta . . . (so that he could grab all the land in Central). Uhuru gave them the title deeds, something none of his predecessors did. It is land issue again haunting us. It’s why they were quick to announce that the Kikuyus were the targets. And by the way, the same Al-Shaabab is currently smuggling sugar into the country from Somali, something they cannot do without the help of the politicians. So then you understand why instead of condemning the terrorists, the government imputed the Lamu massacre to tribal conflict. Hideous.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.