Kua Ruins

The kua ruins date back to the early 12th century.

In the city of kua, the shirazi people and the arab’s lived together in harmony.

Across the bay from our beaches, on one of the largest and most characteristic islands in the archipelago, are the ruins of the ancient city of Kua. An identified archaeological site from the 12th century which still has no firm reasoning as to why all of a sudden the civilisation ceased to exist, although there are various legends. The destruction of Kua is said to have been by the sultan’s enemies, the Sakalava tribe from Madagascar during the fifteenth century. Kua was never rebuilt and after this, and Chole became the most important trading centre of the entire archipelago.

A Shirazi family, from Persia, led by Ali ibn Sultan al Husayn ben Ali settled. Bashat, one of his seven sons, settled in Mafia to govern under this new Kilwa Sultanate and he is thought to have established the town of Kua.The ruins cover a large area of the western side of Juani Island and are located close to the shore. The buildings, especially in the dominant part of the old Kua town, still have some of their walls standing. As you wander between crumbling walls smothered by the roots of strangler figs, you will pass several mosques, a cemetery, a palace with large storeroom, a dispensary and a school, all which were funded by the then-lucrative trade in cowrie shells. From these one can tell that Kua was once a place of considerable local importance.

This island is bursting with unusual fauna including wild pigs, monkeys and small antelopes (blue duiker) and is an important nesting site for Green turtles. The city of Kua was established by settlers from Kilwa, and was heavily involved in trade. There are many giant baobab trees throughout the area and most of the ruins are covered in green, being smothered slowly by the surrounding nature. All over the ruins you can readily dig up pottery sherds, some dating several hundreds of years to Chinese and Persian origins. Vervet monkeys scamper among the fallen buildings and plenty of haunting cries from surrounding birds will add to the mysterious atmosphere, letting your imagination run wild.

This trip can only be planned for high tide. Wind allowing we sail back to Mafia's shores with a cup of tea or coffee in hand.