When Kenya-born singer-songwriter Roger Whittaker sang these doleful words in 1983, the village of Shimoni was a relatively quiet backwater on the southern Kenya coast, known primarily for its deep-sea fishing club. It is now a much larger and busier place, where tourists come to see the 'slave cave' that gives Shimoni its name (Swahili shimo-ni, "at the cave"), as well embark on boat trips to Wasini Island and the nearby Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park [...]. Whittaker’s song played a significant role in this development, by bringing Shimoni and its caves to wider attention, and focusing on one of a number of narratives about the caves' past usage. The lyrics of "Shimoni" did not simply embellish a local tale, but (re)created it in the image of metanarratives about the history of slavery on the East African coast. As we will argue in this paper, these metarratives now dominate reconstructions of the past in Shimoni, and are reinforced by the activities and institutions that constitute and promote the caves as an important site of cultural heritage. (Wynne-Jones and Walsh 2010: 247-248)
Shimoni" was inflicted on the Kenyan population more often than it is now. This rummaging (I can't resist using the word twice) brought forth a series of visual delights that thrilled me even more than the aural experience of hearing Whittaker's song for the first time in many years. Here, then, are some of the images that I'd like to include in the deluxe multimedia reissue of our paper, when the world is ready for it...
|Ernest Hemingway at Shimoni Camp in February 1954, after falling into a fire|
|The issue of Sports Illustrated which includes Robert F. Jones' seminal article about Shimoni|
|Front and back of Pemba Channel Fishing Club brochure with updated prices|
|Shimoni Reef Fishing Lodge brochure, c.1986|
|Wasin Island dhow trip brochure, c.1986|
|Kisite Dhow Safaris brochure, c.1986|
|Daily Nation article opening with that song, the cave, and slaves (August 1988)|
Jones, Robert F. 1982. Passage to the past. Sports Illustrated 56 (5) (8 February): 92-108.
Okumu, Victoria 1988. Women strive to improve their lot. Daily Nation (Nairobi), Friday 12 August: 13.
Trillo, Richard 2002. The Rough Guide to Kenya (7th edition, updated by Okigbo Ojukwu and Daniel Jacobs). London: Rough Guides Ltd.
Wynne-Jones, Stephanie and Martin Walsh 2010. Heritage, tourism, and slavery at Shimoni: narrative and metanarrative on the East African Coast. History in Africa 37: 247-273.