Hustling the coastal way

Rashid Nasoro prepares Madafu for sale along Haile Selassie Avenue in Mombasa County [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

A visit to the Kenyan Coast during the festive season is spoilt by high humidity and temperatures. Having the lowest temperature of 28 degrees celsius at night is not fun.

But we still love such visits driven by the long-held belief, that visiting the Kenyan coastline is a status symbol.

What of those who live there and don't see that as a status symbol? They probably wonder what brings so many people to see the sea which they have seen all their lives!

They probably think we have a problem.

Amidst visits by the affluent and a rise in hotel prices, hustling goes on along the Coast, starting with selling madafu (coconut juice). I found it curious that madafu is more expensive at the source than in Nairobi! Was it the festive season price or my naivety?

The madafu are sold along the beaches and in small towns. I noted that after a few sips, there is no more liquid in the Madafu but if you buy another one, it always has more liquid and is sweeter.

Sea shells are also hawked along the beach some very exotic like one that looks like a scorpion. The deep sea has lots of wonders, no wonder there are lots of myths about it.

Fruits like mangoes and pawpaws are also sold by the roadside. Add foodstuffs like mahamri, a relative of mandazi and fish which is not as common as expected.

Except for red and white snapper, other types of fish are rare along the Coast.

A visit to the Coast leaves my head spinning. Why does our country go hungry with 536km (kilometres) of coastline?

Fish needs no feeding and the ocean has no rain or dry season. Why do we take a car from Mombasa to Malindi or Lamu? Why not a ferry or ship from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar?

Labour is also hawked going by the number of workers queueing outside factories or walking to affluent residences in the morning and afternoon.

The overcrowding at the only public beach leaves no doubt that hustlers also frequent the Coast, not just the affluent.

You may have been mesmerised by the ocean and its breeze, but the coastal economy mimics the rest of the country with hustling as part of life.

Did you notice any hustling at the Coast during the festive season? Share with us.