The Mijikenda Kaya Forests consist of 11 separate forest sites spread over some 200 km along the coast containing the remains of numerous fortified villages, known as kayas, of the Mijikenda people. The kayas, created as of the 16th century but abandoned by the 1940s, are now regarded as the abodes of ancestors and are revered as sacred sites and, as such, are maintained as by councils of elders. The site is inscribed as bearing unique testimony to a cultural tradition and for its direct link to a living tradition.
Outstanding Universal Value
Spread out along around 200km of the coast province of Kenya are ten separate forested sites, mostly on low hills, ranging in size from 30 to around 300 ha, in which are the remains of fortified villages, Kayas, of the Mijikenda people. They represent more than thirty surviving Kayas.
The Kayas began to fall out of use in the early 20th century and are now revered as the repositories of spiritual beliefs of the Mijikenda people and are seen as the sacred abode of their ancestors.
The forest around the Kayas have been nurtured by the Mijikenda community to protect the sacred graves and groves and are now almost the only remains of the once extensive coastal lowland forest.