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Kilindini Bar; Mombasa’s Oldest Bar.

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Sometime in 2020 I was hosted by Mrs. Maura Abranches and her husband Clarence, proprietors of Kilindini Bar, Mombasa’s oldest bar. A lovely Goan couple living just next door to the bar. Kilindini Bar was founded in 1908 and has been run by Mrs. Abranches’ family, the De Souza family, since then. She is the granddaughter to the founder, Alex Caetano De Souza who came from Goa to Mombasa in 1898. He was initially a shipping clerk before getting into the bar business. Below are pictures of lineage of the founder and proprietors, from her grandfather and grandmother, to her parents.

In the bar are antique furniture and liquor bottles from a bygone era. The couple also showed me what was Ronald Gideon Ngala’s favourite sitting position, they tell me he was a frequent patron of Kilindini bar even as Cabinet Minister. “…Men associated with the growth of port and island over half a century have discussed their problems over its counter. Your host is Mr. Ambrose L. de Souza, son of the founder of the business” reads a welcome note from Maura’s father’s time as proprietor.

The main bar area features a fan, brought from Germany in 1932 and still working to this day. Good old German engineering! There is also a pendulum clock that was brought in from America in 1910. The walls of the bar are also filled with distinction. Mrs. Maura Abranches’ father’s photography Diploma from the American School of Photography in Chicago, in 1932, hangs on one wall. Also, old liquor brand posters from abroad. At the time Kilindini Bar was founded there was no Kenya Breweries Limited or East African Breweries Limited. They got beer from South Africa, Europe and Japan and were required to sell only to Whites and Asians. They often got fined by the colonial administration for selling alcohol to Africans.

Kilindini Bar stands as one of the Goa community’s many influences to life in Mombasa and Kenya. One famous Goan figure in Mombasa during Kilindini Bar’s peak was Liverpool FC Mombasa Goan goalkeeper and captain Albert Castanha, nicknamed ‘The Cat’. He represented Kenya in both football and athletics and is regarded by many as the greatest all-round Kenyan athlete of Goan ancestry. Liverpool FC Mombasa (renamed Mwenge) and was Feisal FC’s great rivals, they finished 2nd to Feisal in the league in 1965.

Mrs. Maura Abranches herself had a distinguished career as a teacher around the country. She wrote a book on her teaching career, ‘Go Beyond The Classroom’. I got a signed copy from the visit. Kilindini Bar’s heydays may have passed but it is still a place worth visiting for its history and a feel of life back then from the antiques still found inside the bar.

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