A Man and His Boat

A man and his boat, what story can they tell us?

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Today on our excursion to the Mombasa Marine National Park, we saw a fishing boat making its way back to shore. We realized that this boat was more than what it appeared to be at first glance. We think it reflects the main pillars of what Mombasa stands for. Firstly, the boat illustrates the connection between water and the people of Mombasa. The livelihood of the community is dependent on the ocean and its resources. Details of the construction of the boat also revealed another important lesson we’ve learnt about Mombasa. The sail of the boat was made out of an old and tattered brown tarp strung onto a few long rickety sticks. The steering mechanism was made out of nothing more than wood scraps. This represents the impressive resourcefulness and innovative ability of the people of Mombasa. Finally, this boat seemed like a small token from the past. It’s easy to imagine that this boat was built hundreds of years ago at the time when Mombasa was founded. Perhaps it has been passed down from generation to generation. History is extremely important to the residents of Mombasa and preserving relics of the past illustrates the storyline of the oldest city in Kenya. It’s pretty amazing that a simple fishing boat can symbolize so much about a city and its people.

By: Olivia Petersons (MMASc in Global Health Systems in Africa Candidate) and Aleksey Paltsev (PhD and Collaborative Program in Global Health Systems in Africa Candidate)

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