14-03-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo
The Indian Shah family, like other Kenyans and a few Europeans because of the pandemic, were enjoying the day between the pool and the beach, in the "big house" of Silversand, when suddenly flames and smoke invaded their peace and quiet and turned their holiday into a nightmare, fortunately without casualties but with millions gone up in smoke, for them as for dozens of owners of flats in the Oasis Village in Malindi.
That structure has been repeatedly disgraced by the chronicles for internal disputes between former owners and managers, and perhaps only for these disputes also declared partially uninhabitable by the Court of Malindi some time ago. A place that was created in the 1990s with the intention of providing a flat for long-term tourists who wanted to make a bargain, buying a "buen retiro" on the shores of the Indian Ocean for a few tens of millions. In Italy, it was the time of teleasts, barkers and timeshares. And Malindi was on the lips and in the dreams of many fellow countrymen, and not just Briatore-style VIPs. There were those who saw the town as a unique place, because it was seven and a half hours by charter from Italy, with a pre-existing community of compatriots and also many locals who spoke the language of Dante.
In this sense, edified but not too edifying, it is a symbol of the Italian presence in Malindi and also one of the symbols of its slow emptying, given that lately many flats have been bought by Kenyans, especially of Indian and Arab origin who like to spend their holidays or weekends by the sea and with the gentle climate of Malindi, especially compared to that of Nairobi.
It is from this melting pot of an old and new Malindi that the fire started.
According to several witnesses, the flames started in a second floor flat facing the sea, probably due to a faulty cylinder or a cooker left on inadvertently. This will be investigated by those in charge, but what is certain is that in no time at all, unfortunately, the fire reached the roof of the makuti, which was very dry, and from there the wind did its work, carrying it first to the Key Park cottages next door, which are almost all owned by Italians, and then across the road where fortunately other villas were only marginally attacked. But only today will it be possible to count the real damage and understand how many other private structures have been totally or partially destroyed. In the meantime, what is certain is that it will be difficult to make the Oasis Village accessible again, since it was seriously damaged even on the lower floors and external structures, as well as inside many flats. In addition to the disaster, there is also the pain of many Italians who, in this period of restrictions, cannot come to see the damage for themselves and possibly begin to understand whether anything can be rebuilt. Many houses have been closed for years and many owners are unable or unwilling to spend money. The risk of having a new ghost structure in Silversand is very high. It would be easier to think about rebuilding the houses and cottages in Key Park 1 and 2, almost all of which were seriously damaged. In any case, this time too, as you can see in our video service, it is a bad blow for Malindi, adding to the already serious problems that the lack of tourism has brought. But the strength of this corner of the world has always been that of being able to roll up its sleeves, and perhaps for this reason, more than for the mild climate, we all wear shirts with short sleeves.
by Freddie del Curatolo
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