Where Trees Grow On water

Mzee Lali sq

In my last post I mentioned the exposed Silurian seabed in our local quarry was once located somewhere off East Africa. And Jude at Travel Words said she wished she was somewhere off East Africa – to escape our recent rain-pouring summerless weather. Which then had my mind whizzing back to our years in Kenya, and in particular to a trip to Lamu Island, and a December day spent sailing by the mangrove forest of Manda Strait, drifting and dreaming aboard a traditional dhow.


The timber from these curious trees has long been an absolute necessity for the Swahili seafaring people of the East African coast. They built their dhows from mangrove planks and harvested the pole wood (boriti) for house construction, both at home and for export to places as far away as Yemen and Iran. The traditional Swahili merchant’s house was build of coral rag, excavated from old reefs, with the roof raised on boriti poles. The oldest surviving houses in Lamu Town date from the 18th century, but the Swahili City states of the East African seaboard – from  Somalia to Mozambique – date back to the 8-9th centuries – a fusion of Arab and African cultures.



Christmas Day on Shela Beach. Distant baobabs across the strait.

Lens-Artists: on the water This week the challenge is hosted by John at photobyjohnbo.

Tree Square #8 Becky wants to see trees in square format.

Life in Colour: blue is Jude’s colour of choice at Travel Words.

33 thoughts on “Where Trees Grow On water

  1. Perfect challenge-response and with historical information about a far-off land (at least to me). Thanks for sharing and joining in on the challenge this week.

  2. The deep blue of the water is amazing. I always enjoy your memories. As usual, I’d be happy to take a bit of your rain and trade you some degrees (in either Centigrade or Fahrenheit) and some sunshine. 🙂

  3. That is very blue water. Interesting facts about the mangroves. There are a lot on the Queensland coast but I never thought about whether they are actually used for anything.

  4. I see the outline of giraffes in the trees you featured –
    And enjoyed a bit of memory lane with you
    – sending virtual sunshine ☀️☀️☀️

  5. oh this is a gorgeous post. What stunning waters, and feels so remote from the grey clouds and rainy July we are having. You were so fortunate to be able to explore this area

  6. Wow, what a perfect day! I would love to do this 🙂 Sorry I haven’t stopped by much recently – somehow you’d dropped off my ‘follow’ list. Then I went to Shropshire last week for a few days and it occurred to me I hadn’t seen anything from you for a while. So glad I hunted you out and found this lovely post!

      1. We did thanks – caught up with an old university friend in Shrewsbury, enjoyed a walk in Cardingmill Valley, and finally got to visit Stokesay Castle which has been on my wish-list for some time!

    1. It was one of the mainstays of the East Africa trade for centuries, especially the boriti poles for creating floors for building two and three storey houses. Other trade goods out included coral building blocks, ambergris, frankincense, and in earlier times gold and ivory.

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