The Afrika Kenya Village on Kenya’s coast has a cluster of traditional huts hidden in the midst of the serene Mtwapa Creek.
The clay and cow-dung-made huts are built to depict different styles of traditional houses from different Kenyan communities.
Carol Anami, a hotelier and a member of the International Tourism Board and the proprietor of this Eco-Lodge says she wanted to maintain the traditional authentic culture which is slowly being overtaken by foreign cultures.
“I started this concept because I realized that our culture is fading away. And me being those people who really like traditional things, I thought of a way of trying to maintain our culture but also help the young people who do not know anything about it so that they can learn.”
Both domestic and foreign travelers are offered a new experience with visitors enjoying the cool tropical breeze with a panoramic view of the mangroves down the ocean as birds chirp.
The set-up is fashioned on ancient African village and offers comfortable self-catering accommodation for people craving memorable experiences.
“The name of our village is Africa Kenya Village, that means, it’s Kenya in one village because now when we talk about our lives in the past, people lived in villages. So, I have made one village with different parts of the country. We try to put out the word for people to come and see what we have,” Anami says.
The different cultures in Coast, Central, Rift valley, Nyanza, and Western regions are depicted by each hut decorated in the style of a tribal home.
But it is not just the African huts as the main feature here, food too is traditional from how it is prepared, cooked, and served.
The variety of culinary delights on the card show African dishes revealing unique cultures and practices of diverse Kenyan ethnic communities.
Anami submits that food tourism as a cultural experience is gaining momentum globally and Africa should not be left behind. She says people all over the world are looking for traditional experiences.
Anami added, over the years she noticed people visiting the Kenyan Coast with a desire to eat traditional foods during their stay but unfortunately, they hardly find these foods on the menu of many local hotel establishments.
“All our food is grandma cooked in a pot and on firewood and that’s why you get the taste of the original food. The food varies. When it comes to meat, it depends but we are very fair and anybody can afford it,” she says.
The menu includes Chapatis, Ugali, Githeri (beans and maize), Nyama-Choma(Roasted Meat), Pilau, and Biryani(different types of rice cooked differently), and Mukimo(mashed green vegetables, maize, and Irish potatoes) among a selection of delights from around Kenya.
Surprisingly, some have taken a day off from their five-star hotels just to have a different experience here.
“When people hear about it, they get tickled because, we also have adults who say “oh my God you have relieved all my memories back,” and they are very happy. Also, children get excited knowing that this is how they(people) lived.”
She says the agenda is to encourage more people to consume more traditional foods and vegetables which are not only nutritious but medicinal as well.
“We are discouraging especially parents against feeding their children on junk food that has contributed to lifestyle diseases like obesity globally.”
The hotelier said it is her desire that visitors enjoy every moment of their time while at the eco-lodge which should be a complete experience wholly spent in an African way from accommodation to the food experience.
Visitors here also have an extra activity they can engage in like spending their quiet time feeding the birds, swim or busk under the sun outside their grass-thatched huts or stroll through the mangroves.