10 things you didn’t know about the history of East Africa’s most famous coastal city, Mombasa1 minute read

The Curator series: re-examining historical depictions of Africa and the diaspora.

Renowned for its cultural diversity, its ornate balconies, intricately carved doors and precariously narrow streets, the old town of Mombasa serenely sits by the edge of the sea like an old man reflecting on a life well lived.

The town, which spans an area of approximately 180 acres, was the first settled area on the island. It is believed to have been primarily started by members of the Swahili ethnic group. Join me on a journey back and forth through time; a journey which has its fair share of setbacks, adventures and wonderful encounters.


In June 2017, Thee Agora teamed up with Swahili Box to curate and visualize conservation data for the old town. This would entail coming up with digital solutions to solve cultural issues pertaining mostly to conservation and preservation. The infographic, represented below in a still image, was developed by the Swahili Box research team and allows users to visually interact with the town and read about the history of respective buildings and their current conditions. Perhaps this is where the future is headed. Whether that’s true,  I am not sure, but it is certainly a step in the positive direction.

Taiyana Chao of Thee Agora is a digital historian and our Curator for Innovation season. This piece is an excerpt from the photo essay “Mombasa: Then and Now” that first appeared on TheeAgora.com and is written and compiled entirely by Chao. 

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A passionate historian and computer scientist, Tayiana Chao is enthusiastic about using technology to document and preserve heritage and culture. Starting off with her blog TheeAgora (www.theeagora.com) and going on to do major country wide projects such as Save The Railway (www.savetherailway.com) , her passion for history and technology has driven her to seek out innovative ways in which technology is changing the cultural landscape. She is currently pursuing an MSc in International Heritage Visualisation and has dreams of one day establishing and growing her own digital heritage company (www.africandigitalheritage.com).