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Tanzania Odyssey News

May 16, 2018

Tanzania Holiday: The Ultimate Safari

From diving for marine treasures off Tanzania’s remote coastlines and tropical islands, to climbing Africa’s highest mountain, to witnessing scores of iconic African wildlife; a Tanzania holiday has the potential to fulfill the whims and fancies of every traveler.Tanzania Holiday. Photographer: Mark Williams.

Tanzania Safari Holidays

Tanzania is an inherently wild and adventurous area that has only been partly tamed by man. A large portion of the country is dedicated to preserving the wilderness and wildlife, and it is home to three of Africa’s top five destinations – the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater and Mount Kilimanjaro. There are also numerous lesser visited parks in the south and west of Tanzania that are equally as exciting but offer a more private experience.

Safari and Beach

The-Highlands-guests-view-picnic
In addition to its spectacular wilderness areas, Tanzania also offers some breathtaking beaches, making it a brilliant bush and beach safari destination. The Tanzanian coast north of Dar es Salaam is an idyllic stretch of wide sandy beaches and turquoise waters, and the south coast boasts endless stretches of sparsely populated coastline. Just off the coastline, numerous islands, including the renowned Zanzibar archipelago, are dotted within the warm aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean.
Zanzibar Tanzania Holiday

Tanzania Holiday activites

With so many natural attractions on offer, it makes sense that Tanzania also provides plenty of activities that allow you to explore these scenic wonders. Ranging from walking safaris to hot air ballooning over the Serengeti, snorkeling, scuba diving, horse riding, fly camping under the stars, chimpanzee trekking at Mahale, and more, there are endless possibilities for the adventurous spirit.
Walking safari in Tanzania
Combining these numerous locations and various activities is made easy by the reasonably-priced and efficient internal network of light aircraft. There is also a myriad of choices when it comes to accommodation options that suit the taste and budget of every traveler. Our personal favourites are the smaller, more intimate and luxurious lodges and camps that offer excellent personal service, such as Namiri Plains Camp and Singita Mara Tented Camp.
tents at Siwandu
For all these reasons and more, Tanzania is a brilliant holiday destination for any traveller. Whatever your preferred combination of safari/adventure/beach/relaxation may be, or perhaps even a Tanzania honeymoon, there is an ideal holiday itinerary that will suit you perfectly. For help planning your bespoke Tanzania holiday experience, or for more information on Tanzania, get in touch with us.

April 30, 2018

Why do a Serengeti Safari?

Filed under: Serengeti National Park — Tags: , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 1:02 pm

Serengeti, derived from the Masai word ‘Seregenget’ or ‘Siringitu’, means ‘the place where the land moves on forever’ – a fitting description for the area’s rolling grassy plains that are the epitome of most people’s vision of wildest Africa.

Wild, open, and inviting, the Serengeti’s landscape never fails to entice travellers to explore its endless wonders. While some might overlook this classics safari destination as being too mainstream, we urge you not to make this mistake. After all, the Serengeti became Africa’s most renowned national park for good reason.

4 Reasons to do a Serengeti Safari:

1. Key-Destination in the Wildebeest Migration

Wildebeest Migration Serengeti

The Serengeti is a key-destination is the wildebeest migration and perhaps the most popular reason that people travel there. A 1,800-mile odyssey, the wildebeest migration sees 1,5 million wildebeest and 200,00 zebras chasing the rains in a race for life. The herds are constantly moving so their location depends entirely on the time of year that you visit.

2. Seronera, Big Cat Capital of Africa

Lioness at Seronera, Serengeti

Situated in the heart of the Serengeti, Seronera Valley has been dubbed ‘The Big Cat Capital of Africa’ due to its extremely high concentration of predators. The area is a network of several perennial rivers that enable resident animals to thrive all year round, making it a fantastic destination for wildlife viewing.

3. Walking Safaris, Game Drives, and Hot Air Balloon Rides

Hot air balloon safari Serengeti

Whether you prefer to explore on foot, in a vehicle, or from the sky, the Serengeti offers it all. While not all, some camps offer walking safaris which are an excellent way to immerse yourself in the environment. Game drives, on the other hand, are a great way of covering larger distances in search of wildlife. And for totally different and whimsical activity, a hot air balloon safari is a spectacular way to get a bird’s-eye view of the Serengeti, allowing you to truly appreciate the immensity of the Serengeti.

4. Variety of Accommodation Options

Lamai Serengeti Bedroom

From rustic and remote, to fancy and luxurious, the accommodation options in the Serengeti are about as vast as its grassy plains. There are even mobile camps that follow the wildebeest migration, such as Olakira Camp. Essentially, there is something to meet the needs and budgets of every traveler. Some of our favourite permanent tented camps include Sasakwa Lodge, Sayari Camp, and Dunia Camp, to name just a few.

To start planning your safari to the Serengeti, get in touch with us!

April 11, 2018

5 Reasons to take a Family Safari holiday in Tanzania

Filed under: Tanzania Safari Guide — Tags: , , , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 9:08 am

tanzania-family-safaris

Travelling as a family is an enriching experience and a family safari in Africa is the perfect time for parents, children, and even grandparents, to bond and create life-long memories.

With its combination of spectacular natural scenery, incredible coastline and world-class wildlife reserves and parks, Tanzania provides one of the best destinations for a family safari. While not all safari lodges allow children, many camps and lodges are beginning to specifically focus their attention on families and children and offer activities and facilities to make sure that all age groups are catered for.

Find our top 5 reasons to do a family safari in Tanzania here:

Bush and Beach Safari

Family Safari in Tanzania

Boasting fabulous white sandy beaches, as well as some of the best wildlife reserves in Africa, all within relative proximity to each other, Tanzania is the ideal destination for a bush and beach safari experience.

Wonderful Wildlife

Family Safari in Tanzania

Nothing quite compares to watching your child’s eyes light up with excitement the first time they see an elephant or watch a lion on the hunt. For many people, going on safari is the first time they are able to see wild African animals in their natural environment, making this a truly special experience for both adults and children alike.

Lots of Things to Do

Family safari in Tanzania

Tanzania offers the opportunity for a multitude of safari activities such as game drives, guided walks, watersports, horseback riding and more. There is literally something for everybody to enjoy and no excuse for the kids to get bored.

Variety of Accommodation

Family safari in Tanzania

From rustic tented camps to luxurious private beach villas, the options for accommodation in Tanzania seem endless. Many camps have specific family orientated accommodation that allows for groups to stay together, providing an intimate safari experience.

Special Offers for Families

Tanzania loves families and their child rates and offers reflect this! We have been working with many of the safari companies in Tanzania for 20 years and can get some amazing value deals.

Here are our top 5 tips for doing a family safari in Tanzania:

1. Book a safari camp with interconnecting rooms or a family tent so you can all stay under one roof/canvas!
2. Don’t try and do too much! Tanzania is a vast country and it’s impossible to visit every park. Children will get more out of visiting a few locations in more detail rather than rushing everywhere
3. Get a range of activities- children will start to become blasé after their 15th Lion encounter in a vehicle, so ask us about a safari that has different activities.
4. Tanzania is blessed with beautiful coastlines – after your safari, spend some family time having fun on the beach snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, kite surfing, paddle boarding and much more. Or for exhausted parents, simply relax in a spa with a cold drink and a massage…a tempting alternative!
5. Think about taking a short safari at half term in February or October as you can often take advantage of ‘off season’ rates and fewer tourists.

Find more useful information and tips on a family safari in Tanzania here: https://www.tanzaniaodyssey.com/tanzania-family-holidays 

February 21, 2018

Zanzibar’s Best Beach Bars

Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News,Zanzibar — Tags: , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 1:09 pm

With a name literally ending in ‘bar’, it’s safe to say that Zanzibar has quite the happening nightlife.

From street markets to beach bars, there’s always something fun to do after dark. Here are a few of our top choices of beach bars in Zanzibar that offer not only delicious drinks, but also a wonderful location, welcoming atmosphere, and spectacular views.

The Jetty

Zanzibar Beach bar
Essque Zalu Zanzibar Hotel’s ‘The Jetty’ is one of the best places on the island to enjoy drinks while watching the turquoise blue waters of Nungwi. Set al fresco on the shoreline, The Jetty offers diners a taste of modern Arabic cuisine, often to the tunes of live local music.

The Rock Restaurant

Rock Restaurant Zanzibar

Perched on a coral outcrop in the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean, The Rock is arguably the most famous restaurant in Zanzibar. At low tide, you can wade to the restaurant through a few metres of shallow water, and at high tide, a small fishing boat takes diners to and from the shore. It is renowned for it’s extraordinary location and views, as well as it’s fabulous food and drinks.

Gerry’s Bar

Gerry's Bar Zanzibar

Ideally located on a tranquil beach in Nungwi, Gerry’s Bar is a friendly and laid-back beach bar, and the perfect spot to enjoy an ice-cold cocktail with friends, whilst admiring the sunset. Gerry’s Bar often hosts live music beach parties and is loved for its vibey, relaxed atmosphere.

Kendwa Rocks

Kendwa Rock Bar

Kendwa Rocks offers a beach party every Saturday night with music and entertainment, but it is most famous in Zanzibar for hosting the Full Moon Party. The Full Moon Party is organized around the full moon every month (usually on a Saturday, but not always). Attracting a large crowd of locals and travelers alike, the Full Moon Party offers a delicious grill, amazing acrobats and fire eaters and great live music to keep you dancing all night.

With these options and much more on offer, there’s certainly no shortage of beautiful beach bars worth a visit while in Zanzibar. For help planning your perfect holiday in Zanzibar, get in touch with us.

January 31, 2018

Tanzania Horseback Safaris

World-renowned for its wildlife and natural beauty, and boasting highlights such as the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater and the tropical spice islands of Zanzibar; a Tanzania makes for an unforgettable horseback safari destination.

Tanzania Horseback Safari

Benefits of a Horseback Safari:
• They are more eco-friendly than safari vehicles
• You can explore areas that are inaccessible by vehicle
• Horse riding allows you to get closer to wildlife without disturbing it
• You will naturally notice more of your surroundings than you would in a vehicle, as you are moving at a slower pace and are more immersed in the environment
• Most places that offer horseback riding safaris cater to all ages and riding abilities
• It’s a completely different way to experience the wilderness

Here are a few unforgettable horseback safari experiences in Tanzania:

Serengeti:
What better way to experience the Great Wildebeest Migration than from horseback? Horse riding over the vast plains of the Serengeti, next to massive herds of wildebeest, zebra and other wildlife, is a truly exhilarating experience.

Serengeti Horseback Safari

Photo © Singita Sasakwa Lodge

Zanzibar:
If galloping along a pristine white sand beach, next to the gentle and warm waters of the Indian Ocean, sounds like your kind of safari experience, then a horseback ride in Zanzibar is a must do! From full moon beach rides to swimming with the horses, horse riding in Zanzibar is a magical experience.

Horse Riding in Zanzibar

Photo © Seacliff Resort

Kilimanjaro:
Mount Kilimanjaro is surrounded by stunning savannahs and wilderness areas, and horse riding in the shadow of this famous mountain is a quintessential safari experience. With no fences, buildings or roads in sight, the opportunities for spotting wildlife are endless. In addition to the brilliant game viewing, the area has some of the most spectacular scenery in Africa. As you ride, there are also numerous opportunities for interactions with the local people and herdsmen, ensuring a wonderfully enchanting cultural experience.

Horse riding near Mount Kilimanjaro

Photo © Kaskazi Horse Safaris

Are you chomping at the bit to go on a horseback safari in Tanzania? Get in touch with us and we’ll help you plan your perfect trip.

August 18, 2017

Experience the Best of both Bush and Beach in Tanzania

Filed under: Selous Game Reserve,Zanzibar — Tags: , , , , , , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 6:35 am

Bush and Beach Safari Tanzania

“I love Tanzania because of the light, colours and life in almost every scene, especially at dawn, when the rising sun floods the grasslands with gold, schoolchildren walk along the roadsides and vendors set out their wares. Nature surrounds you with all its exuberance: the largest animals mingle with the most minute; bird calls fill the air; trees blossom with flowers; hills roll into the horizon, and fishing dhows set sail in coastal waters. Mostly, though, the highlight is Tanzanians themselves, with their equanimity, charm, dignity and warm welcome.”
– Mary Fitzpatrick, Writer

When it comes to a winning holiday formula, it’s hard to beat a bush and beach safari. Combining the thrill of the untamed African wilderness, with the romance and relaxation of the beach, Tanzania offers the ideal destination from which to enjoy the best of both the bush and the beach.

This is by no means the only option, but here is one of our favourite bush and beach combinations that works well together:

Selous Game Reserve – Zanzibar

Selous Game Reserve: This is one of the world’s biggest wilderness sanctuaries where wildlife dominates the vast landscapes. Although it is easily accessible via a 1-hour light plane flight from Dar es Salaam, once within the reserve you’ll feel miles away from anywhere and the game viewing opportunities are wonderful. In addition to being able to explore the area on foot or in a game vehicle, the intricate network of river channels within the reserve allows you to also go in search of wildlife in a boat. See our Selous accommodation options here.

Selous Game Reserve

Zanzibar: After an exciting and adventure-filled safari in the Selous Game Reserve, there’s no better place to wash the dust from your feet than in Zanzibar’s turquoise waters. Renowned for its white sand beaches and world-class snorkelling and diving opportunities, Zanzibar is truly an island paradise with countless accommodation options. Here, travellers can also explore the sights and smells within the cultural heart of Zanzibar – Stone Town.

Bush and Beach Safari Tanzania

The combinations of epic bush and beach combinations in Zanzibar are endless. We highly recommend getting in touch with us so that we can determine the best fit for your needs, budget and dates of travel.

August 17, 2016

Touring Tanzania on Foot

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“In a country crowned by the tallest free-standing volcano in the world and almost bisected by chains of ancient mountain ranges, hiking takes on a high profile. Stunning scenery and rugged terrain combine with a fascinating cultural backdrop to create several challenging and adventurous routes.” – Lonely Planet

The hustle and bustle of travelling can be exhausting at times. Whisking off from one place to another means that sometimes there is barely enough time to enjoy every experience to the full and that’s a downright shame! The whole point of travelling is to encounter new things and immerse yourself in different experiences. In doing so, you learn about the country’s unique culture and traditions, as well as visiting places completely unique to your own homeland.

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Tanzania has so many exquisite things on offer and we believe that one of the best ways to explore some of this country’s highlights is on foot. Walking allows travellers the time to develop a deeper connection and understanding of their surroundings. It forces you to be completely involved and aware and travellers will often discover and learn about things that they never would have even noticed before.

Here are a few of our favourite places for taking a walk in Tanzania:

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

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Famous for being one of Tanzania’s premier wildlife destinations and home to the famous volcanic Ngorongoro Crater, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area offers rugged and scenic guided walking opportunities. There are no set routes, which makes for many possibilities, and guests are often treated to thrilling up-close wildlife encounters. Walking is less invasive than driving in game vehicles and therefore provides a more eco-friendly and authentic safari experience.

Stone Town

© Helen Suk

© Helen Suk

Stone Town is the oldest part of Zanzibar and also the cultural heart of the city. As the world’s oldest functioning Swahili city, many of the landmarks in Stone Town have been restored to their former glory. Walking down the narrow streets of the city, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported back in time as you take in the grand old Arabian homes lining the winding alleys.

Lake Victoria

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Bordered by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest freshwater lake and yet is one of the least visited regions of Tanzania. This remote and scenic area is a birdwatcher’s paradise and perfect for nature walks. There are also a few villages in the area which can be visited, including Musoma and Bukoba, which have a quiet waterside charm.

Gombe Stream National Park

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Gombe Stream National Park is the smallest national park in Tanzania. The park is home to many species of primates and mammals but is most famous for its chimpanzee population. Guided walks take visitors into the forest to observe chimps in the wild – a true bucket list activity!

In other words, if you’re planning a trip to Tanzania, make sure to pack a comfy pair of walking shoes. You’ll be needing them a lot!

February 12, 2015

The Cadogan | Guide to Tanzania

Filed under: A guide to Tanzania,An Introduction — Tags: , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 7:21 pm

We are justifiably proud of our expertise when it comes to the best of Tanzania and Zanzibar.

cadoganVery few tour operators have anything like as many days in-country as we do, and when out in Tanzania, we don’t just visit the good stuff. We also have a wealth of knowledge about the country’s less visited areas that do not feature on our site.  We have all contributed to this growing database over the years but we have within our ranks an expert amongst experts, our director Annabel, writer of the Cadogan guide to Tanzania. After a quick scan through her book we think you’ll agree – few people know Tanzania better than her! If you have an interest in the road less travelled, you will find it sated by her fantastic guide.

To see all the chapters simply click on the Guidebook category on the toolbar to the right.

As well as information on some of Tanzania’s lesser visited areas, the guide provides a background to some of the areas we do recommend as well as a brief history. Even though we plan your trip to perfection and provide all the necessary information, it’s still nice to come with a little local knowledge – you may find it enriches your travelling experience!

For those who prefer a hard copy, you can still buy the second edition at Amazon or you can wait til we finish the 3rd edition!

To see all the chapters simply click on the Guidebook category on the toolbar to the right.

If you want a quick overview of Tanzania and Zanzibar then another great resource is our huge website. We have up to date information (and our unbiased opinions!) on all the lodges and regions of Tanzania worth talking about. With regular visits to refresh our knowledge, you can rest assured that whether you are honeymooning on Zanzibar, trekking chimps in Mahale or even climbing Kilimanjaro, you can get advice & guidance from the real Tanzania experts. Alternatively, a good way to get a succinct and clear explanation of your options in Tanzania is to simply give us a call for an impartial chat. We would be very happy to hear from you!

March 16, 2013

History of Tanzania – 19th century

Filed under: 19th Century — Tags: , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 2:28 pm

Arab control, and rule from Muscat – the 1800s

After Persian invasion and almost a century of internal conflict, the old Ya’rubid dynasty in Oman lost control to the Al Bu Sa’idis. But all such wrangling for power had wider consequences on the East African Coastline, where the smaller dominions of the same parties were fighting parallel battles, and often resulting in differing outcomes. The rising regime in East Africa was the Mazrui dynasty, whose allegiance to Muscat had become tenuous following the rise to power of the Al Bu’Saidi clan, to whom they were opposed. The Mazruis had gained authority in Mombassa when they were appointed governors there by the Imam of Oman in 1698, and continued to manage the volatile situation there until the early 1800s, by which time they successfully dominated a large region extending to the Pangani River in present day Tanzania.

But further south allegiance tended towards the Al Bu’Saidi Sultan of Muscat, especially from Zanzibar and Kilwa, which was once more rising to prominence. The island state reinstated trade with the interior, and thrived especially on imports of cloth, arms, ammunition and salt, and exports of ivory, until around 1730, when they increased the export of slaves, especially to French colonies such as Mauritius and Reunion where they would work on the sugar plantations.

The Sultan of Muscat was now fully awakened to possible economic interest in the area, and he appointed a new Omani governor of Kilwa in 1784. Their navy developed greater power along the coast, and took Zanzibar as their central stronghold. He masterminded the annex of Pemba in 1822, and finally Mombassa in 1837. It was perfect timing with regards to export profits, especially for ivory, which continued to earn greater demand; between 1820 and 1850 the price of ivory doubled, then trebled again by 1890. It was exported to the west, for knife handles and piano keys, but mainly to India for ivory bangles that would then be burnt with the woman when she died.

 

Strengthening trade routes and the changing coastal kingdoms

The blossoming Arabic trading network had relied heavily on the co-operation of tribes in the more inaccessible reaches of the interior, and consequently increased economic wealth throughout Azania. The vast interior had gradually shaped into a complex network of tribal or clan strongholds between the lakes of Victoria, Albert, and Tanganyika dating from before the middle of the second millennium AD, although historical records of the details are scarce. Thus it is hard to fully establish the origins of these rulers, although it is likely that they had a connection with the immigrating Cushitic or Nilotic people from the North. These first chiefdoms either spread or developed independently around Southern regions of Tanzania at around this same time, and accounts tell of around 200 small chiefdoms led by a tribal chief, known as ‘Ntemi’, each served by a council over about 1000 subjects. These ‘kingdoms’ developed in response to population growth and the need for greater political control beyond family ties, as was previously traditional. Later, in the case of the Kilindi kingdom in the Usambaras, a stronger political system became a necessary defence against the influx of warrior-like migrating tribes, such as the Maasai. The changing nature of trade also affected small, inland communities, as the availability of firearms at the coast forced them to join with larger groups for protection against slave raids.

Chiefs of tribes in the interior, such as Fundikira of the Nyamwezi around Tabora, the central Tanzanian Gogo, and Yao chiefs from Kilwa seized the opportunities opened to them by the acceleration of foreign trade. Over the course of centuries these made a reputation for themselves by organising their people as porters and traders, carrying goods over many hundreds of foot miles and earning themselves notoriety and relative wealth; although real wealth was limited by the greater economic control of the coastal traders, who kept the lion’s share for themselves. Inland tribes also capitalised on the trade routes by starting to demand ‘hongo’, a toll or a tax on the caravans for passing through their territories. By the mid-1800s, the interior had evolved into a small number of larger tribal empires around centralised, fortified villages.

 

Resistance to Arab control

African chiefs attempted resistance to Arab control, or otherwise sought to capitalise on the riches passing by them. The great chief Mirambo (ruling just west of Tabora, which developed as a permanent Arab stronghold and collection point towards the end of the 19th century), famously built a fortified empire in the middle of the trade routes, only allowing them through after paying tributes. He successfully united the numerous Nyamwezi clans into one powerful kingdom from around 1850, and led military missions to make alliances with all his neighbouring chiefs and clans in the east, south, north and west. His incredible resourcefulness and drive earned him the nickname the ‘ Napoleon of East Africa’, coined by the journalist Henry Morton Stanley. His empire thrived for the couple of decades through the 1860s, ‘70s and early ‘80s, but diminished after his death in 1884.

 

Arab traders had begun to venture along the extended caravan tracks penetrating the interior in the mid 19th century, but they were mainly focused on their growing trade settlements along the coast, and tended to rely on the existing tribal networks and inland systems to bring them their required resources. This focus then established a division between coast and interior that would develop and grow over successive years.

By the end of the 1800s ivory was becoming scarce through the interior, and arms and ammunition more widespread.

 

A Coastal Language of Trade and Exchange

The organic growth of Arabic trade settlements along the coast and islands – either long term settlers or traders waiting up to six months for the monsoon winds to turn about, and bear them back to the Gulf – required such a close integration of Arabic and Bantu that there evolved a shared coastal language, a working, growing language of trade and exchange, called Swahili, (from the Arabic word Sahil, meaning coast). Even the name of this fundamentally Bantu language expresses something of its curious nature, which is constantly and eclectically influenced by the external cultures which affect it. The language was developed as a common means of exchange all along the coast, and incorporated Arabic words either in preference over the similar Bantu phrase, such as Sahil, (the Swahili word for coastline is ‘pwani’), or where there was no word to describe the foreign imports already.

During the 19th century the Swahili language was carried along the inland states by the caravan trade and so was more widespread among the different tribes. This made it the ideal choice when the British colonial government sought to unify the disparate territory of Tanganyika, and later when the fundamentally socialist policy of ‘Ujamaa’ was introduced in the mid-seventies and a shared language was required to carry the message to all the different tribes in the new nation. The differentiation of tribes was to be consciously eroded so that the country may be united, and there was an active parliamentary push to publicise Swahili as a political language to achieve this goal. The actual success of the spread of Swahili throughout East Africa has since inspired a greater incentive to encourage and teach Swahili as the uniting Lingua Franca of the African continent.

 

Sutan Said

Seyyid Said Sultan bin Sultan of Oman ruled the East Coast from Zanzibar for 50 years after signing a treaty with the chief of the Zanzibari Hadimu Chief, the Mwinyi Mkuu, to colonise the island in 1828. His shrewd business sense ensured that the Omanis took the best land on the Western side of the island, leaving the less fertile stretch to the east for the Hadimu, and he pushed and encouraged his subjects to exploit all possible economic openings and trade possibilities, especially slaves and ivory, which achieved international renown. He saw immediate potential in clove plantations, first brought to the island in 1813, and insisted that all of his subjects planted cloves alongside their coconut trees. His domain soon rivalled the power of Mombassa as a focal point for international trade, and by 1837 he spotted a weakness in the Mazrui stronghold in Mombassa and thus extended his stronghold along the entirety of the East African coastline. The Sultan developed a stronghold of power based on trade, and in 1840 he transferred the seat of his rule to the sunnier, more profitable climes of Zanzibar.

 

India had traded with Zanzibar and the mainland coast for centuries, but the excellent terms encouraged by the Sultan inspired greater numbers of Indian merchant settlers on Zanzibar, escalating from a small population of around 215 in 1810 to at least 5,000 fifty years later. They began providing credit for goods, finance expeditions into the interior and acquired the right to collect taxes on behalf of the Sultan. From 1827, the Indian merchant family of Jairam Sewji rose to prominence alongside the Sultan as the wealthiest and most powerful in Zanzibar. This later created the loophole through which the British slipped to limit the power of the Sultan and intervene in the Zanzibari trading laws, as the Indian merchants could technically be recognised as citizens of British India.

 

Sultan Said was already familiar with negotiating with the British long before he settled in Zanzibar, as he had turned to them for assistance while establishing his authority in Muscat, and they had happily provided it in return for safeguarding their trade routes to India. But the first Europeans to secure contracts with the Sultan on the flourishing African settlements were the Americans, who spotted the potential for trade and negotiated a deal in 1833, then established the first consul four years later. Their supply of cheap cotton cloth was so successful that any such material became known as Americani. The British devised their trade agreement with the Sultan in 1839, and their consul in 1841, followed by the French and Germans. The international interest provoked a wider range of items for trade and exchange, and made diluted the Sultan’s ability to withstand pressure to curtail the slave trade. The British had begun this in 1822 when they drew up the Moresby Treaty, to end the trade of slaves to any predominantly Christian country, and in 1845 the Hammerton Treaty attempted to ban the slave trade to Muslim territories too, although the British only succeeded in finally closing the slave market in Zanzibar many years later, during the reign of Sultan Barghash in 1873.

 

Missionaries and Explorers

In the mid-ninteenth century, the first European missionaries with a will to convert East African pagans were forced to be explorers too, and discovered areas of the interior still considered to be ‘unknown parts’ by western geographers and scientists. Among the first successful expeditions to be made were those by Johann Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann to the Chagga lands around Kilimanjaro on behalf of The Christian Mission Society. Rebmann reported back to British shores that he had witnessed a snow-covered peak on this unusual equatorial mountain. His report reached the National Geographic Society, and was promptly dismissed as being mad rantings of an unhinged mind. The map of the lakes in the northern regions produced by their fellow missionary Jakob Erhardt, admittedly on the basis of reports from Arab traders along the caravan routes, showed a large body of water that was probably Lakes Victoria, Albert and Tanganyika all running into one. This large blob of water earned the drawing the name of ‘the slug map’, but nevertheless incited the great geographers to ascertain the truth for themselves. Worthy explorers were duly found, and despatched to the shores of Africa to decipher the truth from the missionaries’ reports.

Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke set off from Bagamoyo in 1857, and endured harsh adventures through the interior with the primary directive to determine the source of the Nile. Leaving Burton sick near Tabora, Speke reached Lake Victoria alone, and propounded his theories about the Nile source, and returned in 1860 in an attempt to verify them, this time in the company of J.A Gant.

The Scottish missionary, Dr David Livingstone, incentivised by his work as a missionary and his abhorrence of the slave trade that he sought to end, also became increasingly fascinated with establishing the Nile source as his journeys unearthed geographical discoveries. Livingstone made his last journey to Lake Nyasa in 1866, and in his wake journalist Henry Morton Stanley, attracted less by geography and more by the kudos and intrigue of discovering the whereabouts of the now famous missionary, whose disappearance on the Dark Continent was causing great concern at home.

A number of Christian missions were then inspired to brave the wilds of the African continent during this period between the mid to late 1800s. The Roman Catholic missionaries arrived in Zanzibar in 1860, and settled in Bagamoyo in 1868, and were followed by Anglo-Catholic, Anglican, and Catholic White Fathers, who worked their way along the trade routes emanating from Zanzibar and Bagamoyo through Tabora to Lake Tanganyika.

 

Tribal movement and change

But life among the fiefdoms of the interior continued to evolve, especially as developing agricultural abilities increased populations in fertile regions, and external tribes continued to move in. The forced and necessary migration and interaction of many different peoples encouraged wider forms of trade, but also displaced smaller tribes and resulted in widespread in-fighting and contention. During the 1800s, warrior-like tribes such as the nomadic Maasai moved south into the foothills of Mount Meru in the North, and the south was prey to fairly constant attacks from the Ngoni tribe, and the Ngindo, Mwera and Makonde. These southern counterparts were forced northwards by the fighting prowess of the southern African Zulu tribe, had also learned a few tricks for survival and attack. As a result, settlements became increasingly adept at defending their settlements, and when, the first German Europeans ventured inland during the late 1880s, they found that ‘everywhere people had withdrawn to fortified villages, and concluded that the land was freely available for European settlement’.

 

German intervention – 1885 onwards

During the mid 19th century, the German ‘Iron Chancellor’ Bismark employed an aggressive colonial policy of expansion. German imperialism took a hold on the realisation that although the Sultan of Muscat claimed nominal hold over the lands of the interior, he was a world apart from the African Chiefs who actually ruled their peoples in these wild and often distant lands. The Sultan cared only for the fruit of the caravan trails, with little real administration or care for the land otherwise.

So young German imperialists with dreams of colonial expansion, such as Carl Peters and his colleagues Joachim, Count Pfeil and Karl Juhlke devised an impudent trick that would allocate them the land they desired. They simply avoided the Sultan’s coastal ports and ventured directly into the mainland bush, where they signed twelve treaties with individual chiefs who were persuaded to give their territories to these strange newcomers with their unusually pale skin.

(The word Mzungu literally translates as ‘he who goes around’, (ie travels/ moves around) although it is unknown when this word was first employed to describe the white man, but seems fitting enough from the first.)

The treaties mainly concerned land that was actually already the Sultan’s domain, but when Bismark ordered five warships to sit along the shores of Zanzibar, the Sultan was persuaded to accept the German purchase offer of 400,000 marks for land along the coast.

Peters organised further expeditions pushed inland through 1880s, following the trade routes established by Arab slave trade and Nyamwezi commercial trade caravans, and in 1885 Bismark claimed a central portion of the interior as a German protectorate, under the rule of The German East Africa Company, headed by Carl Peters. But the strength of resistance from all the different tribes resulted in extensive military response, requiring the assistance of the army by 1889 and earning Peters the Swahili epithet ‘Mkono wa damu’, ‘Him with blood-stained hands’.

By 1890, the protectorate was extended as far as Mwanza and Bukoba. In this year the British and Germans began establishing the boundaries of German East Africa, which included present-day mainland Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

 

Resistance to German control

Between the years of 1888 and 1896 fifty four military conflicts were recorded in resistance against the colonial control. The first rebellion in 1888, described by Germans as the ‘Arab Rebellion’, began on the coast, led by Bushiri bin Salim (enemy of Sultan Said) and Zigua chief Bwana Heri (who had resisted Omani control of Sadani). Between them they amassed widespread support, as Bushiri rounded up supporters on the coast and Bwana Heri came close to uniting the inland tribes. They initially overcame the superior force of the German firearms by engaging in guerrilla tactics, mainly ambush from the bush, but the German troops responded with a terrifying ‘scorched earth’ policy in which they burnt crops and crop stores, destroyed villages and confiscated cattle. By 1889 Germans triumphed, under the military control of Colonel Wissman. When Bwana Heri surrendered as a result of widespread hunger and famine in 1890, he was followed by troops of Zigua people, Nyamwezi, Arabs, Indians, and slaves. The Nyamwezi chief, called Siki, blew himself up in his ammunition store to evade capture from the Germans when they besieged his fortress near Tabora, and Chief Mkwawa of the Hehe put a bullet through his own skull when his options ran out.

 

Chief Mkwawa and the Hehe

The German troops met with considerable resistance in the Southern Highlands, where the Hehe tribe had formed a military state around an impressive central fortress, under the formidable warrior Chief Mkwawa. The Hehe had been more or less forced to adopt a military strategy in response to influx of the Ngoni tribe from Southern Africa, who were themselves being squeezed north by the Zulu despite their favouring a strict military regimental system and good use of Zulu-like spears. The resultant clash around the Iringa plateau brought about the need for unification of the tribes, and also the emergence of strong leaders, such as Munyigumba and his son Mkwawa, who led the tribe successfully through a violent five year war with the Ngoni, between 1878 and ‘82 and sent the Ngoni east of lake Malawi. So when a German Military expedition met with Mkwawa’s troops in 1891 they unwittingly faced a highly organised military system and suffered the consequences; the Hehe were rumoured to have taken only 15 minutes to kill 290 members of the colonial forces.

Three years later the Europeans had their revenge, and put a garrison commander in Iringa. They pounded Mkwawa’s fort with grenades, and overcame the tribe by force of their far superior firepower. Mkwawa, however, escaped, and having evaded capture for for four long years, he famously refused to be taken alive and instead took his own life.

 

March 15, 2013

History of Tanzania – President Nyerere

Filed under: President Nyerere — Tags: , , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 2:38 pm

Creation of an Independent Republic

President Nyerere developed a constitution for a one-party state. The ideal was to stamp out class formation and racism, effectively to exclude tribalism from politics, but at the same time the state determined a firm autocratic line on the grounds that the majority was too ill-educated to know what was good for them. Order was maintained by a harsh Preventative Detention Act. This allowed for the immediate arrest and imprisonment of potential antagonists of the peace defined by the government system. The state actively controlled all media, banned opposition groups, controlled the unions and banned the right to strike, and two activists against the one-party state were almost immediately detained. Following the assassination of Vice-President Karume in 1972 the number of political prisoners rose to such an extent that Tanzania it ranked highly on the lists of Amnesty International. (At this time, over a thousand prisoners were detained, 81 of whom were convicted a year later, almost entirely on the grounds of confession after torture).

Over the following years the influence of state rule became even more clear, not least exemplified by the ruling in 1973 that all western clothing and mini-skirts were henceforth forbidden. Tight trousers, wigs, make-up (notably skin-lighteners) were all banned. Police and soldiers were expected to uphold the rules, and they took to inserting a bottle into men’s trouser legs to ensure that they were wide enough.

 

A model for African Socialism?

Although Nyerere claimed that Tanzania’s foreign policy was specifically one of nonalignment, the new republic became increasingly more reliant on socialist models, and found willing assistance from Chinese, Russian and East German governments. When the West rejected plans for a railway route linking Tanzania and Zambia, on account of Tanzania’s dismissal of Britain’s role in Rhodesia and their supplying arms to South Africa, China agreed to finance the route with an interest-free loan. A British press report from Dar es Salaam in 1969 reported that it was ‘not unusual to find a Chinese behind every palm tree along Tanzanias palm-fringed shores’, following the arrival of the Yao Hua steamship, which had despatched nearly 1,000 engineers. The Chinese were angling for a means through East Africa into Central and Southern Africa, and the Russians were interested in a means to help the East Germans block the Chinese. Cleverly enough, the new republic did not dissuade democratic governments from joining in the throng, and Nyerere happily discovered that the Americans were content to support any aid that might thwart the influence of either the Chinese or the Russians.

 

While Nyerere himself stuck to his ideal principles of a socialist leader, accepting only an annual salary of £4,000, the same could not be said of many of his fellow senior ministers, civil servants and leaders of TANU who were caught in the thrall of a growing lust for wealth. By the mid-1960s the Daily Telegraph in England reported on the era of  ‘ a new and all-powerful tribe in Tanzania….the Wa-Benze, “the people of the Mercedez Benz”.’ This fast-expanding group were seen as ‘the new rich of a new nation’, and were making the most of their influential positions.

 

When Nyerere made a nationwide tour of Tanzania in 1966 and ’67, he was initially surprised and disappointed by the reception he received, and the realisation that the vast majority was sorely disenchanted with the unfulfilled promises of Independence. The President reportedly retired into solitude on completion of the tour, and later emerged with a plan for the new future of Tanzania. It was made instantly effective with The Arusha Declaration of 1967 and remains pivotal to Tanzania’s social and economic history and development.

 

Nationalisation and self-reliance

The Arusha Declaration aimed to restrict the capitalist surge of the Wa-Benze, and decreed that ministers could not own more than one house, could not accept positions in private companies and must rely only on their salaries. Perhaps more significantly, the declaration determined that Tanzania would adhere to a policy of self-reliance, and no longer remain dependent on foreign aid. To that effect, all banks were instantly nationalised, and certain larger commercial companies were to follow. As the legislation took effect immediately, businesses suffered a 10-day standstill and had only recovered up to 20% of previous volume by the end of the first month. But the main focus for development was agriculture, and all areas of rural production were to be organised into co-operative villages so that crops could be grown in ‘collectives’.

 

Ujamaa

The Arusha Declaration had an extreme and lasting effect on the rural population, the majority of whom were required to move into more easily manageable ‘co-operative villages’ in order to develop agricultural collectives and benefit from potential services such as schools and clinics. This was the essence of the policy known as Ujamaa, literally family-hood, which inspired the development of 8,000 co-operative villages and subsequently the resettlement of over 13 million Africans in the following decade.

 

The basic concept for the controversial Ujamaa policy of re-villagisation was born of good intentions. Community education and health schemes were not viable considering the disparate situation of the many small, rural communities and the general lack of infrastructure, and drastic action was required. But the downsides of these policies enforced by the Arusha Declaration soon became obvious, and harder to solve.

 

Unfortunately, the implementation of the Ujamaa scheme was heavy-handed. Although Nyerere originally stated that the re-villagisation process would be voluntary, reports returned of villages being burned and their inhabitants fleeing under force. Nyerere responded that he had no knowledge of the violent methods used to carry out his policies in distant regions of his land, especially the far south and north. The results were drastic, as entire villages and rural regions suffered extreme poverty and near starvation when they were forced to leave the land that had provided their subsistent existence and to immediately establish new crops on unknown land. The policy for agricultural collectives suffered because the 8,200 Ujamaa villages were mainly reliant on the hand-hoe, meaning that group action had little effect and many farmers were reduced to subsistence farming. The sisal plantations, previously a highly developed industry, suffered hopeless detriment as a result of mismanagement and cashew farmers moved so far from their crops that they abandoned them. Government officials placed within the villages held the balance of power, over that of elected representatives.

 

The real effects of Ujamaa on the economy combined with major other factors to reduce Tanzania’s financial standing to being ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world.

Having proclaimed that Tanzania would continue without foreign aid, this aspect of the Arusha Declaration was put to the test when nearly all such aid was withdrawn and the country fell upon even harder times.

 

So it was in 1979, when Idi Amin invaded of Tanzania’s northern borders, that Nyerere had to rely on his own resources to topple the Ugandan dictator and restore Obote to power. Although Amin had primarily attacked to distract his country from his own internal political struggles, Nyerere amassed numerous troops and emptied all of the country’s financial coffers, a sum estimated to have been around £250 million.

 

By the early 80s Tanzania was reliant on imported cereals, and rationing was introduced.

Corruption was widespread, industry was working to only 30% capacity, and nearly half of the 330 farms taken over by the government went into liquidation.

In 1985 oil prices rose, and Tanzania, already stretched to the limit, suffered badly. Then crop prices for the cash crops that the ‘collective’ farms and Ujamaa villages were supposed to grow also fell, and whole regions of rural farmers were close to starvation due to lack of maize. The resultant food shortages were terrible, the shops in Dar es Salaam were bare, and the country suffered a desperate lack of currency.

 

Years of harsh and often dogmatically enforced socialist policies left Tanzania impoverished, one of the world’s poorest countries, and utterly dependent on Western Aid.  Although Nyerere had encouraged Tanzania to be politically independent of the developed world, he was forced to leave it one of the most aid-dependent. In his last year as president, Nyerere denationalised the sisal plantations and began to devalue the currency, then handed over to his successor President Ali Hassan Mwinyi of Zanzibar to negotiate further structural reforms and devaluation in order to accept much needed assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

 

After Nyerere and the economic crisis of the 1980s

Nyerere stepped down in 1985, at the height of the bleakest years of Tanzanian economy. After 32 years of authoritarianism, reasoned on the grounds that the people were too ignorant to know what was best for them, he became one of the first African leaders to voluntarily resign his position. Nyerere and his supporters continued to defend the one-party state on the basis that it had developed a homogenous society and a strong National unity, and after resigning as President, Nyerere took an advisory role in Tanzanian and African politics, specialising in mediating peace agreements between neighbouring East and Southern African countries. In 1987 he flew to Lusaka to mediate on behalf of Kenneth Kaunda (former Zambian Leader), and spent the last four years of his life engaged in mediating peace talks aimed at ending the civil war in Burundi. Nyerere developed his role as benevolent elder statesman through the 1990s, and was rewarded in 1992 with the UNESCO Simon Bolivar prize, jointly awarded to him and San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader for their contribution to International freedom and development….

 

When Julius Kambarage Nyerere died in 1999, Tanzania mourned the leader who had led them into Independence and united the nation. No music was allowed to play in public places other than tributes, and many shops and businesses were closed as a mark of respect to the first president, fondly remembered as ‘Mwalimu’. Hundreds of new kangas were printed with Nyerere’s image, and also a number showing the reigning president Mkapa alongside. At President Nyerere’s funeral, a line of African leaders gathered to pay their respects, even though, as in the case of President Isias Aferwerki of Eritrea and President Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, their countries had been at war with each other in immediately preceding months.

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