Welcome to Kaya Kinondo.
The Sacred Forest of the Digo community
In Coastal Kenya the local sacred forest are called Kayas. They are pockets of forest of 10 to 400 ha found in the contiguous Kwale, Kilifi and Malindi Districts of Coast Province and owe their existence directly to the cultural beliefs and history of the nine (9) Coastal Mijikenda ethnic groups.
Kaya Kinondo, the senior most Kaya (home) for the Digo people is in Kwale District of the Coast Province. It is found a few meters from the Indian Ocean beach. It is located to the Diani beach which is internationally recognized as a tourist destination.
Kaya Kinondo which is well represented in biodiversity still bears the marks of prolonged human use and settlement in the distant past that lends credence to the rich folklore associated with the site.
Kaya Kinondo is the first Mijikenda sacred forest to open up for controlled ecotourism and the first such activity in the whole of Kenya Coast. The project came about after feasibility study done and concluded that the local community led by the elders supported the idea.
Kaya Kinondo Ecotourism project is a pilot project that seeks to initiate and test the viability of ecotourism as a means of linking conservation to tangible social and economic benefits of local community. A conservation and development group was formed with an aim of coordinating conservation and development activities in the area. All proceedings of the project go towards maintenance of the Kaya, Cultural ceremonies, community projects such as schools and water projects. Finally, through a financial services association established by the community as part of the project, the project gives loans to community groups and individuals within the area to initiate income generating micro projects.
Visitors are led through the forest and listens to numerous tales and legend about the characters that lived there, their strength, weakness and unique traits. This is an essential part of the experience deepening one’s sense of the Kaya’s living history and Digo traditions. On visiting the forest, the visitors will not have learnt about one of the Africa’s remaining biological, cultural and historically rich forests, but will have contributed to an important
Cultural History: The Mijikenda
The Mijikenda (or nine tribes) comprise of nine closely related Bantu people who share a common linguistic and cultural heritage. They each lived within individual Kayas with their own tribe along the southern coast when they migrated to Kenya from somewhere north of the country known as Singwaya. The Mijikenda are said to have migrated to what is now modern day Kenya sometime between the 16th and 17th centuries.
The names of the nine tribes are as follows and are in no particular order. However the Digo and the Giriama were and still are the largest of the nine tribes: Digo, Giriama, Kauma, Chonyi, Jibana, Kambe, Ribe, Rabai, Duruma
420 US Dollars for a month of placement in this project