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Malindi Municipality embarks on rehabilitation of parks and gardens

The Malindi Municipality Board, has embarked on the rehabilitation and beautification of all parks and gardens in Malindi town, to provide recreational facilities to the residents and attract tourists.

The Malindi Municipal Manager, Eng. Johnson Mwabati, says the main objective is to give Malindi a facelift and return it to its former glory, when it was voted as the cleanest town in East and Central Africa, at the beginning of this century.

The first to be rehabilitated, will be the Mekatilili wa Menza Gardens, next to the Malindi Museum Complex, a building that used to be the residence of the famed Arthur Champion, who historians and Mijikenda cultural enthusiasts say was slapped by Mekatilili on August 13, 1913.

On Thursday, the Board and other officials of the County Government of Kilifi, held a public participation session at the Malindi Museum Complex on the proposed rehabilitation of the garden, which was formerly known as Uhuru Garden, where local leaders and residents welcomed the project.

“This is a very vital project and in our view as a municipality, it will attract both local and international tourists, because we have realized that there is a lot of congestion at Buntwani Sea Front Park during festivities because this small garden is not attractive,” Eng. Mwabati said.

“That is why we set aside a little amount of money, to rehabilitate and beatify it so that it can be attractive to local and international tourists, wishing to relax and sample the coastal ambiance in Kilifi County,”

He said the next project would be the garden at the main Malindi Round-about, which he said the town management was talking to development partners to beautify it and make it more attractive as it is the main feature within the town.

“There are many more things we are doing, to ensure that our town is greener and beautiful so that when tourists come, they will see our attractions that could make them stay longer and even make return visits,” he said.

The Member of the County Assembly for Shella Ward, where the Mekatilili Garden is situated, Mr. Twaher Abdulkarim, lauded the Municipality Board for its initiative to beautify the tourist metropolis.

“This is a very good important project and it is a deliberate move by the County Government of Kilifi, to improve the infrastructure and beautify our town, so that it can attract more tourism,” he said.

The Secretary General of the Malindi District Cultural Association (MADCA), Mr. Joseph Karisa Mwarandu, welcomed the project, saying it would help preserve the history of the Malindi, as it is also the site where the statue of the Mijikenda heroine Mekatilili was erected.

Mohamed Zira Ali, a money changer operating at the garden, said the move to rehabilitate the park would greatly benefit him and his fellow money changers and taxi operators using the garden.

There were however conflicting opinions regarding the name of the garden, with some saying it should revert to its original name of Uhuru Garden and others saying it should retain the name Mekatilili wa Menza Garden.

Former Malindi Deputy Mayor, Mohamen Jurmy, Anti-narcotic Drugs Activist Famau Mohamed Famau, and Mr. Ali rooted for Uhuru Garden while Mr. Mwarandu and other MADCA members, as well as Mr. Twaher, said they preferred the name Mekatilili, to honour the legendary freedom fighter.

Eng. Mwabati said the Board would continue with the project without minding what name it would be called, as that was not an issue under consideration when the proposal to rehabilitate the garden came-up.

By Emmanuel Masha and Stella Kanini

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