Laza is a slowly growing suburban found in Hola town. Its existence date many years ago even before the arrival of the white man. The old town whose indigenous are the pokomo was first situated at the banks of of river Tana where the sand harvesting business takes place today ; But later the settlers were forced to move outwards due to land degradation as the river enlarges, and that explains its present day location.
We cannot talk about laza without mentioning ‘mji wa malao’ as popularly known by the residents. It is a small area named after a Somali man who once lived at the area with his wife Hasaghale. However due to constant conflicts between Malao and a pokomo man named Deye wa Bajera, who he also accused to be responsible for his wife illness; he decided to stealthly desert the place carrying along his sick wife.
The exploration era marked the advent of the Arabs in Laza and the coastal region at large. Abdalla Omar who came from Kipini, Abdalla Ali, Jafari from Mambrui, Mzee Said, Abdalla Salim, Said Amer among others were said to be the earliest Arabs to arrive in Laza to trade with the locals. Later Bayusuf from Malindi joined them in the trade and amassed a lot of wealth as he bought farm products from the locals to sell them to other coastal regions. As business grew competition erupted between two tycoons, Said Amer famously known as Said Gonso (Gonso was a nickname arguably said to be given to him because of his grown moustache) and Bayusuf. But Unfortunately Gonso lost it as he used to buy 4kg goods at 2. 50 cents while his opponent bought at 3shillings, thus making him a favourite among the locals.
As a result a song was composed by young maidens to hail Bayusuf. It goes like:
“Said Amer ni tajiri hakumfika Bayusuf. Hamari badha, mji wa Laza Bayusuf kamshinda nguvu”
He later build a mosque and a madrassa without the help of anyone and left a wish that when he is no more he should be burried close to it; and as nature have it he passed on and his words were honoured.
Gasa meetings from Lenda to Chewani were normally organized at Laza in the compound of Kofa Gavava. Moreover the white man government used to send an agent to come and collect tax from the residents. Whenever he arrives he normally camp at a place which today is a harbour, called “Kiko cha serikali” by the locals. The orma and wardei were the stubborn when it comes to paying tax. They used to place the tribute on their spears for the whiteman to collect. They succumbed only under compulsion.
Islam spread like wildfire in most Pokomo villages including laza. Its adherents today would forever be grateful to Omar Dhima from Masalani who spearheaded the dissemination of the ‘new’ faith which encountered a lot of opposition from the traditional elders by then.
Having acquired the Islamic teachings and blessings from a sharrif who took him in during his stay in Lamu; Omar Dhima with his group converted many people despite the animosity they encountered in their escapades. Today large percentage of the upper Pokomo are Muslim.
Shariff Dhima was laid to rest the year 2014 in Kilindini; though at first his children wanted to bury him in Mambrui, Malindi if not for the mysterious disappearance of the grave, as it was against his wish to be burried there.
Today laza is a cosmopolitan suburban as it houses different ethnic groups with the Pokomo being the majority.