On November 3, 2023, the Fort Jesus National Monument welcomed King Charles III and Queen Camilla during their visit to Mombasa, Kenya. The National Museums of Kenya organized the visit, which was a significant event highlighting the historical and cultural ties between Kenya and Britain.
According to Professor Mary Gikungu, Director General of the National Museums of Kenya, the visit was a testament to the enduring connection between the two nations and the importance of preserving our cultural heritage. The Fort Jesus National Monument played a crucial role in showcasing Kenya’s rich history and heritage, and the visit by Their Majesties underscores the efforts to protect and preserve this heritage.
Gikungu mentioned that the upcoming visit would be beneficial for tourism and would draw attention to the rich history of the country. “At the National Museums of Kenya, we are committed to safeguarding Kenya’s cultural heritage of the past and present, and this visit strengthens our determination to ensure that the legacy of Fort Jesus endures for generations to come,” Gikungu stated. Fatma Twahir, the Principal Curator of Fort Jesus World Heritage Site, expressed her excitement about hosting Their Majesties and emphasized the site’s significance as a World Heritage Site and a testament to Kenya’s rich history.
The recent visit by the Royals emphasized the importance of preserving cultural heritage for future generations. This reinforced the commitment to safeguard Kenya’s diverse heritage. However, Fort Jesus faces a significant challenge from the impact of climate change, particularly the rising sea levels that pose a threat to its structural integrity. To address this pressing issue, NMK partnered with UNESCO and the Kenyan Government to launch a reclamation and restoration project. This project led to the creation of an attractive perimeter garden, which not only elevated the aesthetics of the Old Town but also offered a recreational haven for the local community.
According to Tom Porter, the Country Director of the British Council in Kenya, “Fort Jesus is a wonderful and historic location to highlight the remarkable efforts of the NMK in safeguarding Kenya’s rich cultural heritage.”
NMK, he noted, has stood as a cherished partner in our Cultural Protection Fund, dedicated to nurturing, preserving, and promoting cultural heritage.
The Fund has a crucial role in the coastal region, which is famous for its historical significance. It works to strengthen disaster risk preparedness at sites like Jumba la Mtwana, Siyu Fort, Shimoni Slave Caves, and Kongo Mosque. The goal is to ensure the preservation of Kenya’s cultural heritage, and the Fund works closely with partners to achieve this. During the visit, Their Majesties met with creative entrepreneurs at Fort Jesus and enjoyed a traditional Mijikenda performance, celebrating the richness of Kenyan history and culture. Also present were UK High Commissioner to Kenya Neil Wigan, the Governor of Mombasa Abdullswamad Sheriff Nassir, and the British Council team who facilitated the visit. NMK, a state corporation established by the Museums and Heritage Act 2006, is a multi-disciplinary institution with the role of collecting, preserving, studying, documenting, and presenting Kenya’s past and present cultural and natural heritage.