Quayside Lamu ~ Thursday’s Special

The Swahili communities of the East African seaboard grew out of the commerce between Arab dhow merchants and African farmer-fishermen. It is a trade that began perhaps two thousand years ago, and it is a trade that relied on the gyre of monsoon winds – the kaskazi that bore the dhow merchants south from the Persian Gulf, and the kusi to take them home.

Some of them stayed of course, to manage the trade with the African hinterland. Gold and ivory, ambergris, leopard skins, tortoiseshell and mangrove poles were the lure. In return they traded beads, brass wire, textiles, rugs, dates, porcelain. And so from at least 800 years ago city states grew up along the coast – from Lamu near the Somali border in the north  to northern Mozambique in the south, and also out on the Indian Ocean islands of Zanzibar and the Comoros. So evolved a new culture as Arab merchants married African women, and along with it a new language KiSwahili – the fusion of Bantu vernaculars and Arabic. Today Swahili is the lingua franca of East Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania) although the purest form is deemed to be spoken on Zanzibar.

The trade had its vicious side – slavery, and Stone Town on Zanzibar was notorious for its slave market. The slaving and ivory expeditions of Tippu Tip, a Swahili merchant, were the scourge of Central and East Africa during the nineteenth century. He himself was a Zanzibari plantation owner, but he also served the Omani sultans of Zanzibar who had extensive clove plantations on the island, and furthermore ruled much of the East African coast until the British arrived in the late nineteenth century and whittled down their control.

Even so the East African slave trade continued on into the twentieth century. Slaves were still being sold on Lamu until 1907 when the trade was finally banned.

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These days the main trade on Lamu is tourism, and the large Arab dhows, bearing dates and rugs and treasure chests, no longer call in there. Local trade using the smaller Lamu dhows still thrives though. Today’s main exports are mangrove poles, coral rag stone and coral mortar – all for the construction business, and boats are also the main form of transport around the island unless you want to walk or take a donkey. All auto traffic, apart from ambulances, is banned, although this year’s political campaigning has seen the arrival of illegal MPs’ vehicles and noisy motorcycles, so risking the rescinding of the town’s UNESCO World Heritage status. Hopefully things will settle down again. But in any event the quaysides of Lamu are still key to life there. In fact the two mile footpath from Lamu town to Shela Village, the other main community, seems to be one long quayside.

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copyright 2017 Tish Farrell

Thursday’s Special  Please visit Paula for more September word prompts. In case it’s not obvious, my choice was ‘quayside’.

Thursday’s Special ~ July and August photo recap

 

This week Paula wants to catch up on the photos we posted over the past two months. A quick trawl through the picture archive shows that my posts have been all over the place – both in space and in time: memories from our years living in Kenya, a trip to New York, more recent wanders in Wales, Derbyshire, Cornwall, and the nearby Shropshire hills, then allotment and garden shots around Wenlock. I’ve grouped them by colour:

And finally some monochrome:

Well, that was fun, Paula. Thank you!

Thursday’s Special: July-August recap Please call in at Paula’s for a photo-treat.

 

Window On The Past ~ Looking In, Looking Out At Much Wenlock Priory

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Our small town of Much Wenlock has been continuously inhabited for a thousand years. It grew up around the Priory and, until the Dissolution in 1540,  its citizens’ lives were ruled by the Prior who held his own  court. Of course many worked for the Priory directly, while others were farm tenants, the Prior being the preeminent landowner in the area, so fulfilling the role of Lord of the Manor.

In exchange for their tenancies of up to 20 acres, the farmers were expected to do work for the Prior. Sometimes his demands were greatly resented. So much so that in 1163 Wenlock’s peasant farmers rose up, making suit to the King to remove the overbearing prelate. It is recorded that they ‘threw down their ploughshares.’ In return, the Prior excommunicated them, the worst punishment imaginable short of execution. But still the farmers did not back down. They besieged the church and fought off the knights who had been despatched to restore order. The Prior was forced to hold an enquiry, and abide by the decision of a committee whose members were chosen by the farmers themselves – four knights and six monks whose judgement they must have trusted. And so justice was done – people power medieval style.

 

For more about Wenlock Priory see an earlier post HERE

And at Thursday’s Special the theme this week is WINDOWS.

Where Trees Grow Calm ~ Thursday’s Special

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Here’s another place I never tire of photographing – the Linden Walk. Not only is it lovely of itself, but it also leads to Windmill Hill, that other object of my snapping affections. I took this photo yesterday with the leaves whisking off the trees. It was too windy for those addicting musky smells of autumn leaf litter, and the delicious summer scent of lime tree flowers was only a memory (until next year of course).

But whatever the weather or time of year, this lime tree avenue is always a very soothing place to walk. Its other-worldly quality takes you out of yourself: a pathway to another dimension perhaps? Doubtless the town’s  physician, Doctor Penny Brookes, who planted the trees in 1869 was well aware of the calming properties of lime trees since he was also a Padua-trained herbalist.

When made into a tea, the blossoms have a sedative effect. This was a recommended therapy during World War 2 (Richard Mabey Flora Britannica).

But in the absence of linden flower tea, here’s the lovely second movement ‘Petals’ from Takashi Yoshimatsu’s Piano Concerto Memo Flora;  Kyoko Tabe piano:

 

Post inspired as ever by Paula at Lost in Translation  Please pay her a visit. CALM is today’s watchword.

Today In My Wenlock Garden: Thursday’s Special

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This oriental poppy has been unfurling its petals for the last couple of days – never mind the fierce squalls and sudden Arctic blasts. Never mind that it is NOVEMBER. This morning she finally opened into sunshine. Still a little crumpled in the frock department, but what chutzpah, eh, and for a flower that looks so intrinsically delicate.

Anyway, she is my offering for Paula’s Thursday’s Special challenge. Today she has given us five cue words to choose from: ascending, idleness, jaunty, whiff and luminosity. So here we have poppy luminosity. With a touch of jauntiness thrown in.

Come to think of it, to find something so lovely in the garden at this time of year, also has my spirits lifting sky-high, so I’ll throw in ‘ascending’ too. Hope she brightens your day too. Many of us could do with a good gloom antidote, mentioning no ‘T’ words.

 

copyright 2016 Tish Farrell

Thinking Pink Over Wenlock Edge: Thursday’s Special

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All right. All right. Call it art theft if you like. I’ve captured one of the Wenlock Edge Sky Painter’s quirkier pieces and am passing it off as my own. But then who could resist stealing that rose petal cloud? We all of us need one now and then. So please, be my guest. Cast off in the blue. Drift and dream. Who knows where it will take you.

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Thursday’s Special  This week Paula asks us to think pink. Please waft over there for more pink thoughts.