The mtepe is a boat associated with the Swahili people (the word "boat" in the Bantu Swahili language being mtepe). The mtepe's planks are held together by wooden pegs and coir[a], so it is a sewn boat designed to be flexible[b] in contrast to the rigid vessels of western technique.
The cessation of the production of mtepe has been ascribed to the arrival of the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean in the 15th century, leading to boat builders adopting alternative, western shipbuilding techniques.
Nearly a dozen photographs and nine known model mtepe have been preserved. Three models are kept at the Fort Jesus Museum, a Portuguese fort built in 1591 located on Mombasa Island, Kenya. One model is kept at the Lamu Museum, 150 mi (240 km) north. One model is kept at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. One model is kept at the Science Museum, Kensington, London.