05-12-2011 by Freddie del Curatolo
Hundreds of thousands of tourists, many of them Italian, from the past twenty years have traveled back and forth the Mombasa-Malindi.
Who knows how many of them will have noticed a detail that has not changed since then.
Between Kilifi and Watamu (strictly speaking, near the village of Matsangoni) the early nineties there is a tire hanging from a branch, on the roadside, with an inscription in white paint: "Suma".
Maybe among residents who have done so many times that road, someone has asked the why of that wheel and that name.
It is no hidden advertising, subliminal message and even the warning of a tire that operates nearby.
Suma is the nickname of a certain Ismail, a Kenyan Muslim who lives there in front and with the tire of his car has created the sign of his private home. A small estate consisting of three large cement mixed mud huts with tin roofs that face brazenly on the large paved road, only coastal link. The main house instead is built entirely of stone, such as mountain houses of the past in Italy.
Suma behind the house, there is the shamba home to his wives and the many children.
It meets one of them, a smiling young man. "Suma" is my father Ismail, he says candidly, and is the father of many of us.
A good man who wanted to signal its presence to anyone who comes to visit or just to those who pass beyond.
For twenty-five years at least, the tire makes me think that if one part many things have changed on the Kenyan coast, there are small everyday symbols, seemingly insignificant, that tell us that this extraordinary place will never change.
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