The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) is set to construct a Sh.300million waterfront recreational park in Mombasa adjacent to the historic Fort Jesus, a popular destination for foreign and local tourists.
The NMK says the two-acre beachfront park along the edge of the Indian Ocean will revitalize the centuries-old Fort Jesus museum that fuses unique African, Arabic, Persian and European styles.
The proposed seafront ‘Fort Jesus Park’ will be an integrated urban picturesque destination for tourism, culture, festivals, shopping, dining and relaxation.
The fort built by the Portuguese in 1596 was declared a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 2011 and highlighted as one of the outstanding and well-preserved examples of 16th century Portuguese military fortifications.
Fort Jesus provides a fantastic history of the wars that took place between the British, Portuguese and the Omani Arabs for the control of the Kenyan coast.
The modern waterfront recreational space will add to the appeal of Mombasa as a world famous tourist resort and is located near the Old Town, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
It would be the second public landscaped waterfront in the coastal city after the Sh.460 million scenic Mama Ngina Waterfront Park formerly the Mama Ngina Drive, a seafront open public space.
The Mama Ngina Waterpark, which sits on a 26-acre beach plot facing the Likoni crossing channel, had become an iconic tourist attraction site before the coronavirus pandemic dealt the tourism industry a big blow. There is hope that normalcy will return.
The magnificent park was the venue of last year’s colorful Mashujaa Day celebrations which was presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta and also marked the official opening of the facility.
The NMK Director General (DG), Mzalendo Kibunjia said the effort to build the seafront park comes after the completion of a Sh.497 million structurally sound seawall at the landmark fort.
Dr. Kibunjia said the project that is expected to take six months to complete is being funded by the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund (SASDF).
He said the concrete seawall designed to protect the fort from coastal erosion and the state-of- the-art recreational park is hoped to breathe new life into the ornate historical buildings’.
“The envisioned park will be a place for leisure resting, walking, outdoor cultural festivals and beach footballs,” he said.
He went on ‘the park will be playing host to local festivals and showcase Mombasa’s rich cultural heritage,’.
Dr. Kibunjia who was on a tour of heritage sites in the coastal city said the development of a ‘scenic beachfront public park’ will greatly enhance the appeal of fort Jesus as a world heritage site.
The NMK boss said the park once complete would be of interest to both the domestic and foreign visitors coming to marvel at the fort Jesus which was built by the Portuguese in 1593.
“The construction of the concrete seawall at fort Jesus was the first phase of fortification effort of the iconic fort Jesus and now we are beginning the second phase which is a waterfront park,” said Dr. Kibunjia.
Dr. Kibunjia said the waterfront park is designed to provide a variety of public spaces for recreation and opportunities for the public to enjoy the waterfront location and special events and appreciate the views of the ocean and the iconic fort Jesus.
He said the NMK, the state corporation that manages museums, sites and monuments, was committed in protecting historical sites and monuments as they were key in the promotion of the country’s heritage.
By Mohamed Hassan