Mnazi
12 April 2021

A photography installation and a Mangwe – a grassroots palm wine bar created by artists: Biko Wesa & Witek Orski.

Mnazi is a Swahili name for both the coconut palm tree and the wine produced from it. Mnazi as a palm tree is an economic pillar for almost every common household on the Kenyan coast. Palm wine is an important part of tradition for the Mijikenda people – the nine tribes native to the coastal region of Kenya. A tradition that is being diminished and erased in the mainstream modernisation narrative.

While commercial coconut trade possesses a serious threat to the global ecosystem, Kilifi palm trees are an indigenous part of the socio-economic landscape for the coastal inhabitants. Acting as a source of food, medicine, cosmetics, building materials, brooms, artisanal products, and alcohol among other uses.

With no government policies in place to govern the trade, coastal communities hardly benefit from it. As interest in the crop diminishes due to this, so do efforts to protect it, leading to a decline in the population of palm trees. A pillar of survival for the coastal people.