A visit to the second biggest city in Kenya Mombasa will definitely leave you with good memories not just because of the sandy beaches along the Indian Ocean, hospitable people but also some of the puzzling names of places around the city.

Here are some of the names that will not only surprise you but crack your ribs.

1. Stage Ya Paka

It’s a Swahili phrase for (a stage for cats)This is in Bamburi area in Kisauni Sub-county. A witchdoctor is said to have lived in a rented house in the area. However, he never lived in peace. During his stay there his family suffered constant ailments, deaths and he lived a sorrowful life. Tired of the sorrowful life, he decided to relocate. He is said to have set a trap after leaving the house to whoever was causing trouble to his family.

After a few days, a cat is said to have stuck its head inside a pot outside the house while chasing after a rat.

The house where a cat was trapped inside a pot at Stage ya Paka area, Bamburi.

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The incident drew the attention of hundreds of onlookers and media who wondered how the cats got its head through a tiny pot opening, according to village elder Abdallah Hamisi who witnessed the drama.

When owner of the house was called he said that it’s the person who had been causing mayhem to his family who had been trapped. He later ‘released’ the cat after hours of pleading from the residents.

Although the actual date of the occurrence is not recorded, residents here say it was in 1992.

2. Toa Tugawe

This is a small neighborhood in Kisauni Sub-county. A story is told of a killer 40-man gang of youths who terrorized residents for many years since the 1980’s.

The youths would keep machetes and pangas under a mango tree by the road passing through the area.The gang would rob and kill people during the day but sleep at night.

They would say to anyone using the road ‘Toa Tugawe’ a Swahili phrase for ‘lets share what you have’ and would take everything from wrist watches, money to household items.

At some point they changed their name from 40 Brothers to Big Mountain, according to a community policing officer Martha Wairimu who has lived in the area since 1982.

After vigorous efforts by successive political leaders and police officers, the gang was wiped out.

“Today, a passerby will wake me up at night to remind me to close the door,” says Wairimu.

3. Kwa Punda

It means a place for donkeys, a domestic animal famed for transport heavy luggage.

It’s an informal settlement in Changamwe sub-county. The name originated from a hardworking, strong man who lived in the area. The man was said to have the strength of a donkey since he used to carry heavy luggage from Kibarani to this place.

Some houses at Kwa Punda which overlook Mombasa Island

Since this area was his residence, people adapted the name up to date. The area has about 2000 residents.

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4. Dunga Unuse

Located in Changamwe sub-county, the area was a popular joint for local brew called ‘Mnazi’. It was served in glass bottles.

Due to scarcity of the brew and money during the colonial period, revelers would afford only half a bottle of Mnazi.

General view of Dunga Unuse informal settlement in Changamwe sub-county

Many Taita men and women who frequented the joint would say to the sellers: ‘Dunga Mwanusu’ meaning- fill the bottle halfway. It would cost two cents and one penny.

Hence the name, Dunga Nusu, but the name has since evolved to Dunga Unuse.

5. Mafisini

It’s a residential area in Kisauni. The place was forested before it was inhabited. The bushes are said to have stretched to the now Heller Park in Bamburi.

Hyenas lived in this forest but due to an influx of people in Bamburi, commercial and residential houses have replaced the bushes and the animals are no longer there.

Mafisini is a Swahili word for a place with many hyenas.

Other names which residents and visitors find funny include Kaa Chonjo (Tudor ward) , Mburukenge (Tudor ward), Shika Adabu (Likoni) and Magodoroni (Kisauni).

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