What drove you to Lamu Island and to set up Fatuma Towers Guest House?
I came to Lamu 20 years ago after living in Nairobi for 30 years. My brother was in Kenya as part of the British army and I was in the agriculture field before coming here.
I left my job to tour the world. I was interested in buying a water front property. I found this place, which is five minutes from the beach. I bought it and converted it into the guest house.
How different is Lamu Island as a destination?
The island has an air of peace that can actually be felt by people. It is a gem that I feel the government should be aware of and they should guard it carefully. We also do not allow vendors on Shela beach, making it a safe place to relax without disturbance.
How did the Mpeketoni attacks affect tourism and have things normalised?
The publicity was negative for Lamu, which in turn affected business. We who live in the Island feel and know that the place is safe. The attackers are only against the government not the ordinary people and I feel that the government should do more to ensure safety in this county.
What are the dos and don’ts for travellers panning to visit the archipelago?
Always remember that this is a village, which is predominantly Muslim, hence ensure that you wear modestly. Also, they are peace-loving people, so avoid parties or clubbing.
Shela is also known for wellness and fitness services. W hat are some of the myths on Yoga, which are not true?
Yoga is not a religion, but an exercise that makes the body healthy and makes an individual be one with themselves and their surroundings. People often say that it is a mind control game, but it’s not. No one tells you what to think or focus on, but you discover it yourself.
Describe your yoga journey and why it is a key feature at your guesthouse?
I discovered Yoga in Africa and began practising it 30 years ago. I did a one- month yoga teacher’s trainer course in Southern India with Siiva Ananda. I also read a lot of books on the same and then researched on the need for Yoga by Kenyans, which drove me to build the first Yoga Hall in East Africa 20 years ago.
What should people know when planning their stay at Fatuma Guest House?
The guest house does not have overhead costs that’s why it’s cheaper to be here than in a hotel. Again, we don’t have a bar, or a reception and we specialise in personalised services. We charge Sh6,000 per person per night bed and breakfast but this goes down to Sh9,000 for two people sharing. However, our rates go up to € 135 (Sh16,200).