Tiziana, 20 years in Watamu among passion and hospitality

In Watamu she has known, both as “Mama Zawadi” and the Lady of the Driftwood.

Driftwood are trunks brought, smoothed and carried from the stream of the Indian Ocean. Her true name is Tiziana Colis and she hasn’t been brought to Africa from the stream, but from an immense passion: the passion for freedom.

Freedom for reinventing and being independent in a Country where living alone is not as walking in the park. But just this year (2017) Tiziana celebrates her twentieth anniversary of conveyance to Watamu.

“The first time I came here on vacation, as everyone does, tells the owner and manager of the tiny residence that bears her Swahili nickname. From Nairobi I descended to Malindi, but two weeks on holiday weren’t sufficient to let me know a very special place. I got back home conceiving to give up everything for starting a new life from scratch”.

After less than twelve months, Tiziana had picked out Watamu and left her country-house in Spoleto, also assigned as an animal shelter.

“My predominant nature convinced me, go on Tiziana, to buy a house here in Watamu at a stone’s throw to the sea, served by a footpath that looked like a forest. It was my paradise”.

As the creativity has always been her distinguishing sign, she started as a joke to delight in decorating and furnishing her new Villa, collecting as an enchanted explorer everything she found: trunks, branches, fruits, seeds and any other gift offered by this new wild word.

At the end the Villa was sold to the well-known Italian songwriter Roberto Vecchioni and Tiziana launched herself in a new adventure, designing and furnishing several Cottages, using almost exclusively driftwood.

A wonderful complex that a rotten fire will destroy a little bit later.

“It was a tough blow – admits Mama Zawadi – but since then I understood that in Africa everything is relative and native people learn to look forward. So I accepted a job as a manager in the savannah, at Chyulu Hills, not far away from Kilimanjaro. I worked with Masai carpenters and we were accustomed to pick up wood with elephants all around, we built up piers right beneath that magic Mountain. An amazing experience that, maybe, without that frigging fire I wouldn’t ever tried”.

Now the philosophy of Tiziana is the right one for living in Kenya.

Once she got back to Watamu she totally threw herself as a decorator, projecting and producing furniture with recovered wood and abandoned boats, included ancient dhows.

Her little spare-time from the new exciting profession, is devoted to the social, helping association, children-home and schools in Watamu and Gede.

Today many Watamu Villas bring her distinguishing sign, with style and elegance, mixed with the naturalness of her manners, that is part of her character and the authentic way of living in Kenya.

But a second fire destroyed machineries and many amazing piece of woods for imagining, creating and decorating, so she decided to devote herself exclusively to Zawadi Residence.

The Residence sits few minutes walking from the Centre of the Village and the sea. Inside these rooms, however, there is all her life, talent and respectful look to the Nature and opened to the suggestion that Kenyan coast gives to material and objects.

At the dawn of her sixties, the wonderful Mama Zawadi has no intention to stop.


Zawadi Residence Watamu

Villa Zawadi Residence rises in the heart of Watamu, few metres away from the sea and from the centre. Plunged in a lush tropical garden, Zawadi Residence is surrounded by bouganville, palms and perfumed frangipani and kilifi.

If you walk ten minutes only, you could visit Watamu Beach, called "Fishermen bay", surrounded by several small islands, reachable on foot during low tide.

Watamu is in fact a small kenyan town overlooking the Indian Ocean. Few kilometres off the most famous Malindi, Watamu offers more than 10 km of beautiful beaches, the most amazing of all the coast: small islands are there between the waterline and the Indian Ocean, and the white and fine sand allows you to walk long distances observing the fascinating marine park. Watamu Marine Park, together with Malindi Marine Park, belongs to Malindi National Marine Reserve, and represents a natural paradise truly unspoilt, where you can have the opportunity to discover a deep and colorful world, rich in corals and tropical fishes.

Our Standard

1. In the lovely tropical garden you can find:
3 double rooms with private bathroom and veranda, 1 double room with extra single bed, two sink bathroom and private veranda, 1 indipendent bungalow equipped with kitchen, double bed, extra single bed, private veranda, bathroom and garden.
2. Rooms
All rooms are equipped with fan and hot water produced by solar energy. The villa offers B&B and HB service. It is possible to rent the whole residence which offers in total 12 beds.
1. Restaurant
In the garden there is a spacious gazebo, where there is a restaraunt. The professional chef prepares special dishes from italian and Swahli cuisine.
2. Security
All Zawadi Residence is protected by a private security service. The owner is available daily for any request.