02-09-2020 by Freddie del Curatolo
Many of those who know the history of Kenya are convinced that Christianity was brought here by German missionaries who opened the first Catholic mission in Rabai, inland Mombasa in 1846.
In reality Jesus arrived in an even more friendly and less didactic way 350 years earlier on the shores of the Indian Ocean. The face of Jesus appeared for the first time to the Kenyans drawn on one of the sails of the three caravels of the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama, who landed in Malindi on 14 April 1498, as reported in the diary written by one of his assistants and translated by the Italian historian Gianbattista Ramusio.
The Christian God arrived in the Muslim town of Malindi, welcomed amicably, because at that time Malindi was an enemy of Mombasa and the Portuguese had fought a bloody battle in the big city two days before, assessing the hostility of the local population.
In Malindi on the other hand, Vasco Da Gama found allies, so much so that when he left for the Indies, he left two members of his crew who waited for his return for two months and in the meantime established trade relations and told, among other things, the story of Jesus to the local population.
Since then in Malindi the Christian and Muslim religions have lived together in great harmony and this is one of the secrets of the atmosphere of relaxation and peace experienced in the destination.
When you visit Vasco Da Gama's pillar, it is difficult to tell you this story, just as the nearby Portuguese Chapel, built one hundred years later by Francis Xavier, spiritual father of the Jesuits, is a testimony to how Christianity had already taken root in Malindi, without any hostility. That hostility that Johan Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann instead found in Mombasa and for which they had to settle inland, in Rabai where the first Catholic mission in Kenya was born, about half a century before the Italian priests of the Consolata arrived on the slopes of Mount Kenya.
Many tourist destinations in the country have many stories to tell, Malindi in particular has history on its side and above all it can also be considered the only true pilgrimage destination and the "homeland" of Christianity in Kenya and throughout East Africa.
by Freddie del Curatolo
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