For both men and women, the pool of possible close and/or especially significant associates is not limited to kin. Neighbors, including those who are unrelated, are often among those with whom there are the closest relationships, often involving mutual assistance and strong emotional ties. There is a proverb that, if it lacks the trenchancy of many others, nevertheless charac-
terizes the nature of relations with neighbors as compared to kin: Hallah, hallah jirani kuliko ndugu mli kule (God, God [much used to give emphasis] the neighbor [is more] than [a] kin [who] is over there [i.e., at a distance]).
As with kinship, ties based on proximity are a likely basis for close relationships without there being any necessity for such relationships to develop. To be jirani (neighbors; wamtaa is a less common alternate term) is to have the basis for a close relationship, but normatively, informants agree it need only be a cordial one. Some neighbors are likely also to be kin, and the dual tie increases the likelihood of frequent and close association. Other neighbors, however, may not even be Swahili, and close relations even with such outsiders are, within limits to be described, fairly common.
Old Town is no longer a purely Swahili area and has not been since the railroad to Nairobi and Uganda was completed before World War I. The steady increase in the presence of non-Swahili in the area has resulted in greater and greater population density, with much of the additional housing, as well as some formerly Swahili housing, being occupied by outsiders. The limited census I was able to make indicates that outsiders, mainly Indians and Arabs of various sorts (but most commonly those from the Hadhramot area of Yemen), now occupy more than half of the houses in the area. The eastern part of Mombasa island, which was almost purely Swahili prior to World War I (when the rest of the island was used for agriculture), is now a cosmopolitan area only slightly less polyglot than the area adjacent to Old Town that has become the business district and, to the west of that, a mainly non-Swahili residential and industrial area leading to the modern port.
Despite its greatly increased non-Swahili population, Old Town is not completely heterogeneous. There are almost no resident Christians there, and almost all of the minority of non-Muslims are Hindus. Among the Muslim majority in Old Town, the Swahilis' fellow Sunni are the largest group, although there are some Shia (all or almost all from India), a small number of unassimilated Omanis of the Ibathi canon, and, again mainly Indian Muslims from other non-Sunni groups. Ethnic heterogeneity is, as this suggests, rather greater than religious.