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The Rabai cultural festival (November 2nd - 3rd), held in the village of Rabai near Mombasa, is now an annual event, celebrating the little known history and culture of this small coastal community and their role in the history of Kenya’s early exploration.

The small village of Rabai, located about 25km North West of Mombasa, became known to the outside world when the German explorer and Missionary Dr Ludwig Krapf chose the area as a base for his exploration of the hinterland.

Krapf zeal for both Christianity and geographical discovery led him to live a full life devoted to exploration of Kenya. He arrived in the country after he and his pregnant wife were forced out of a mission post in Abyssinnia. Not long after his arrival in Mombasa, his wife and newborn child died from fevers within days of each other. He stuggled on and established a strong bond with the local people of Rabai, who assisted him with both his linguistic studies and exploratory safaris.

In 1848, Krapf and a colleague, Johann Rebmann, became the first Europeans to sight MT Kilimanjaro, while in 1849 Krapf first recorded a sighting of the snows atop Mt Kenya.

Today a small museum, opened in 1998, documents his life’s achievements. The museum comprises Krapf’s original home and church, together with exhibits of his early maps and books.

But this area is also home to the Rabai people, one of Kenya’s mijikenda (nine tribes) collective communities. Krapf’s early study of this community only revealed the tip of an iceberg of traditions and heritage, many of which live on today.

The Rabai festival celebrates the role of the village in Krapf’s early settlement, and also a much longer and older history of Mijikenda culture.

This fascinating festival is cause for much local celebration, and is also an ideal opportunity to witness and learn from the great wealth of local tradition and custom.

For more information on Mijikenda culture, please see the Related Links above.

For more information on this year’s and future Rabai festivals, please click here
Related Links
See Mijikenda Culture
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