Lamu Fort is still a jack of all trades : More than two centuries of brutal history are preserved within the walls of Lamu Fort, a magnificent two-story stone building that was constructed next to the Pwani Mosque, which dates back to the 14th century and is thought to be the oldest mosque in Lamu.
Although there are few accounts of the building of Lamu Fort, it is widely thought that Fumomadi, the Sultan of Pate, may have been the initiator. Some also think that Abdalla bin Hemed, the head of the Mazrui, was involved.
The fort had just one story completed when Fumomadi passed away in 1809. After his passing, it appears that little more work was done until 1813, when Lamu unexpectedly defeated the armies of Mombasa and Pate in the well-known Battle of Shela.
Lamu Fort was rebuilt with assistance from Seyyid Said bin Sultan, the Sultan of Muscat and Oman (1804–1856). The possibility of a fruitful relationship with Lamu and his increasing interest may have played a significant role in this backing.
When Lamu Fort was finished, over ten years later, in 1821, it marked the southern edge of the ancient stone town of Lamu and, for a period, was a garrison for Baluchi soldiers whom Seyyid Said had dispatched to guard it.
The British colonial government began using the fort as a jail in 1910. Mau Mau inmates were housed there by the 1950s. Up until 1984, when it was turned over to the National Museums of Kenya to start the process of becoming the first environmental museum in Africa, the Kenyan government kept the fort in use as a prison.
Lamu fort is used for weddings.
On May 15, 1984, same year, Lamu Fort was designated as a scheduled monument, and restoration efforts to bring it back to its former splendour got on.
These days, a museum with an exhibition mostly focused on environmental conservation occupies the ground floor of Lamu Fort. The second level houses offices, laboratories, a workshop, and a conference room that can be rented; the courtyard is utilized by the neighborhood for gatherings, weddings, and open performances.
The fort features a library with a fine selection of Swahili poetry and Lamu reference books. However, the fort is more than just a hub for poetry, culture, and conservation. You can see sweeping views of Lamu town from its walls.
The courtyard at Lamu Fort-courtyard.
It’s interesting to note that Lamu Fort was once located on the waterfront, which subsequently ran parallel to the town’s main drag. Since then, the waterfront has receded.