Mera is a noun in the Swahili language, primarily spoken in East Africa, which refers to a type of traditional fishing boat commonly used along the East African coast, particularly in Tanzania and Kenya. The term "mera" is derived from the Arabic word "mashua," meaning boat. These boats are typically wooden, handmade vessels characterized by their small to medium sizes and simple construction.
Meras are commonly used by local fishermen for various purposes, including fishing, transportation, and leisure activities. They are usually equipped with sails, such as a lateen sail, and can also be propelled by oars or small outboard motors. Due to their shallow drafts, they are particularly well-suited for navigating shallow coastal waters and coral reefs.
The construction of a mera often involves traditional techniques and is a labor-intensive process, often involving skilled craftsmen who have passed on their knowledge through generations. The boats are often built with materials obtained locally, such as wood from trees found in the region.
Meras play a crucial role in coastal communities' livelihoods, providing a means of income generation through fishing, as well as ensuring transportation and connectivity within and between coastal communities. The cultural significance of these boats is deeply ingrained in the maritime traditions of East Africa, reflecting the region's historical ties to the sea and its dependence on fishing as a vital source of sustenance and trade.
The word "Mera" has multiple origins and different meanings in different languages. Here are some possible etymologies for the word "Mera" in various contexts:
1. Hindi: In Hindi, "Mera" is a possessive pronoun used to indicate ownership. It derives from the Sanskrit word "मम (Mama)" meaning "mine".
2. Finnish: In Finnish, "Mera" is a word meaning "more". It is derived from the Bantu language Swahili, where "Mere" means "I want more" or "give me more".
3. Scottish Gaelic: In Scottish Gaelic, "Mèirle" is a word meaning "steal" or "plunder". This is a possible connection to the word "Mera" as a name used in different cultures to portray a thief or plunderer, such as in Arthurian legends.