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Pemba

May 16, 2017

Sleep with the Fishes in The Underwater Room

Filed under: Pemba — Tanzania Odyssey @ 9:05 am

Underwater Room Manta Resort

Sleeping with the fishes takes on a whole new meaning at The Manta Resort’s Underwater Room.

Appearing to float on the turquoise waters just off Tanzania’s coast, The Underwater Room is undoubtedly one of the most unique places to stay in Africa. Tethered to the ocean floor, the room is anchored in place and affords guests 360 degree underwater views of the ocean and the life that teems within in.

Soak up the Sun on the Roof
Serenely set atop the ocean waters, the structure offers a sea level landing deck, with a lounge area and bathroom. From there, a ladder leads up to the roof where guests can sunbathe and stargaze. Due to its location, just off the coast of Pemba, the room offers astonishing views of the Milky Way.

Underwater Room Manta Resort

Wild beneath the Waves
Beneath the wooden deck, lies the true appeal – a soft double bed surrounded by panes of glass. Beyond the glass lies the wonderland that is the Indian Ocean. Guests can fall asleep watching as seemingly endless shoals of reef fish swim by. There is even a resident trumpet fish called ‘Nick’ who is often seen swimming around.

At night, the underwater spotlights attract and illuminate a few more unusual and elusive species, such as squid. If you’re lucky, an octopus or Spanish dancer might even attach itself to the glass while you’re inside.

Underwater Room Manta Resort

Getting there
The room lies approximately 250m from shore and can be reached via a 2min boat ride from the Manta house reef. On arrival at the room, you will be given a tour of your private floating island and then left to settle in before enjoying a light tropical lunch. A kayak, snorkel and fins are all provided for you at the room, as well as a full stocked bar fridge, and mobile phone with the contact numbers required should you need assistance with anything.

If this sounds like something you’d like to experience, get in touch with us and we’ll help you plan your perfect trip.

April 21, 2017

The Tanzanian Cheetah

Filed under: Serengeti National Park — Tanzania Odyssey @ 8:10 am

The Tanzanian cheetah, also commonly known as the East African cheetah, is a subspecies of cheetah native to East Africa.

There are a total of five subspecies of cheetahs in the world, and of these, the Tanzanian Cheetah is the oldest and largest subspecies. While they can be found in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Somalia; the best places to see them are the Serengeti and the Masai Mara, where the majority of the population lives.

Five Facts about the Tanzanian Cheetah:

1. Archaeologists have found remains of a Tanzania cheetah that dates back a few million years, making them the oldest subspecies of cheetah to date.

2. Although Tanzanian cheetahs have the second-largest population, after the most numerous South African cheetah, they are still listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN.  The main threats for the Tanzanian cheetah include poaching, habitat loss, and larger predators such as lions, leopards, hyenas and wild dogs.

3. The average cheetah measures from 110 to 135 cm in length and weighs between 20 to 60 kg. However, the average size of a Tanzanian cheetah ranges between 40 to 60kgs in weight, and 200 to 220cm in length. Despite this, Tanzanian cheetahs still have a leaner build than the other subspecies.

4. The Tanzanian cheetah has a pale coat that ranges from tannish to a white-yellowish colour. They have spots all over, except on their white bellies. The spots begin to merge toward the end of the tail to form dark rings followed by a white tuft at the tip of the tail.

5. Tanzanian cheetahs’ main source of food are antelopes, with their favourite being the Thomson’s gazelle. The Thomson’s gazelle is often found grazing in the savannas and open fields of the Serengeti ecosystem, where the cheetahs can chase and catch their prey at full speed.

They are truly beautiful creatures and seeing them in the wild is always a highly rewarding experience.
For a chance to see Tanzanian cheetahs in the natural environment, get in touch with us and we’ll help you plan your perfect safari tailored to your interests, budget and schedule.

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December 23, 2016

Safari in Style: Luxury Activities to do in Tanzania

Filed under: A guide to Tanzania — Tags: , , , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 7:57 am

Going on safari to Tanzania may not seem like a luxury option for travellers who prefer to explore in comfort, however, believe it or not, there are many ways to incorporate a little bit (or a lot) of luxury into your safari. Here are a few of our favourite luxury safari activities:

Hot Air Balloons:

There is arguably no better way to see the Serengeti than from the air. While game drives and scenic walks might let you see these areas up close, there’s nothing quite like viewing them from the skies. This safari experience is, quite literally, on a whole new level.

Hot Air Balloon Safari Serengeti

Wine Tastings:

Tanzania may not have much of an international reputation when it comes to wine, but it is actually the second largest producer of wine in Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa. The humidity in Tanzania’s Dodoma region is perfect for growing grapes and the wine from this area has been praised by connoisseurs in the wine industry.

Dining on Safari

Luxury Lodging:

From meru style tents with glittering chandeliers, to private islands in the Indian Ocean; accommodation on safari can offer you luxury lodging options you never knew were possible on a safari. Just take a look at our lodge index if you don’t believe us!

Glamping in Siwandu Tents

Sundowner Cruise:

At the end of a long day on safari, nothing beats lazily drifting down a river with a drink in hand as the sun slowly dips below the horizon. Alternatively, in Zanzibar you can enjoy a sunset Dhow cruise along the coast of this island paradise.

Sunset Dhow Cruise in Zanzibar

Decadent Dining:

Luxury lodges tend to employ the most amazing, professional chefs and enjoy feeding their guests about 5 times a day. Put it this way, you definitely won’t be returning from safari any slimmer.

Safari Dining in Tanzania

Aah bliss! If this sounds like your kind of safari, get in touch with us and we’ll help you plan the perfect trip with all the creature comforts you could ever wish for.

November 24, 2016

The Ultimate List of Tanzania Resources

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Travelling to Tanzania? Here’s a list of resources to help you plan your trip:

Tanzania Tourist Board: The Tanzania Tourist Board provides up-to-date and accurate information for travellers interested in exploring Tanzania, including links to specific locations, travel advice, and historical and cultural background on this diverse country.

Ngorongoro Tanzania: This is the ultimate guide to the Ngorongoro Crater. Arguably the biggest tourist attraction in Tanzania, there is a lot people need to know when travelling to this brilliant destination. This site includes information ranging from where to go, when to go and how to get there.

Lonely Planet: Lonely Planet is a great all round travel resource site that offers some solid advice for travelling to Tanzania. In addition to the helpful tips on visas and health requirements, there are also some interesting blogs by travel writers sharing their experience.

World Travel Guide: This site provides a comprehensive guide to Tanzania, including information about the language, culture, history, attractions, airports and everything else you can think of.

About Travel: This is another great all round guide with a comprehensive section about travelling to Tanzania. What’s different about this site is that it includes some useful tips for avoiding common travel scams.

Project Visa: Everything you need to know with regards to visas and embassy information.

Female Traveller: This site addresses the specific needs of female travellers and provides advice for women abroad.

World Nomads: Travel insurance options, as well as tips and advice for your trip.

Air Tanzania: Air Tanzania is the flag carrier airline of Tanzania based in Dar es Salaam with its hub at Julius Nyerere International Airport.

Tanzania Odyssey: Of course, we saved the best for last. We are experts on all things Tanzania and can help you plan your perfect safari to this amazing country.

October 26, 2016

10 Fascinating Facts about Tanzania

10 Weird Facts about Tanzania
Known for its exotic wildlife, rich culture and ancient cities, Tanzania has become a popular destination for travellers.

However, while the Great Migration, Mount Kilimanjaro and the island paradise of Zanzibar may be its most popular attractions, there are tons of interesting facts about Tanzania that most people are completely unaware of.

Here are 10 fascinating facts about Tanzania that you probably didn’t know:

1. Tanzania plays a vital role in helping us understand our own evolution as the earliest human skull in the world, dating back 2 million years, was discovered in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania by the famous East Africa archaeologist, Dr. Leakey.

2. Tanzania is the home to the largest crab in the world, the coconut crab. It is also apparently one of the tastiest crabs in the world.

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3. Freddie Mercury, the famous late songwriter and vocalist for the rock band ‘Queen’ was born in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

4. Almost every type of ecological system can be found on Mount Kilimanjaro. This includes cultivated land, rain forest, heath, moorland, alpine desert, and an arctic summit.

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5. The shortest war in history was fought in 1896 in Tanzania between the United Kingdom and Zanzibar. It lasted only 45 minutes.

6. The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is one of the oldest ecosystems on the planet and little has changed in the park in over 1 million years. It boasts a diversity of flora and fauna that is unavailable anywhere else in the world.

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7. The Serengeti is home to the the Ol Doinyo Lengai; the only volcano on the planet that is currently erupting carbonatite lava. This mineral rich carbonate lava is washed down to the plains where it fertilizes the land.

8. Lake Manyara National Park, in Tanzania, was the first park to become famous for being home to tree-climbing lions.

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9. Tanzania is one of the last remaining places when the possibility of discovering a new species still exists. In 2003, a new monkey, the kipunji, was discovered and is extremely rare with a population of only about one thousand animals.

10. Zanzibar has its own leopard population. Known as the Zanzibar Leopard (Panthera pardus adersi), they are endemic to the island and are assumed by some authorities to be extinct or very nearly so.

There you have it! 10 extra reasons to travel to the fascinating, diverse and unique country of Tanzania.

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!

July 26, 2016

The Cycle of Life in the Serengeti

Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News,The Great Migration — Tanzania Odyssey @ 10:24 am

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When the wildebeest migration arrives on the plains of the Serengeti, a time of plenty begins for the predators. It’s basically a big moving ‘all you can eat’ buffet and the drama that unfolds during this time makes for some of the best wildlife sightings. It’s no wonder that this spectacle is on so many safari enthusiasts bucket lists!

“The survival tactics, the perfectly timed executions and the unexpected escapes are bound to leave any wildlife lover enthralled. However, a certain degree of empathy is also stirred from observing wild animals in their quest for survival, and the raw simplicity of life in the bush is an alluring aspect for many visitors. There are also many lessons to be learnt from the animal kingdom – from trusting instincts and embracing strengths, to working as a team and adapting in the face of adversity.”Africa Geographic describes the migration in a gallery titled ‘Life and Death in the Serengeti’ featuring a series of powerful images captured by wildlife photographer, Björn Persson.

Here are a few on the photographs that were featured:

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Entering the world as baby wildebeest, odds for survival aren’t great. With predators around every corner, a weak little wildebeest is an easy target. Getting on their feet and walking as soon as possible is their only chance of survival.

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When the calving season arrives, the big cats feast in the Serengeti! During this time, it is vital that they gain weight and store energy for the future when easy meals might not be as abundant.

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Built for speed, cheetahs have the option of targeting prey that would be more difficult for the other predators to catch. Once they have caught their prey, cheetahs need time to rest but they also have to eat their meal relatively quickly as larger predators often chase the cheetahs off their kill and steal it for themselves.

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Unlike cheetahs, lions cannot rely on their speed to make a kill and need to carefully stalk their prey until it’s the right time to pounce. Often taking advantage of the cover of darkness, lions usually hunt in groups to increase their chances of success.

Click here to see the rest of the gallery.

If this sounds like your kind of safari experience, then get in touch with us! We consider ourselves to be somewhat ‘experts’ on the topic and can help you plan the best safari possible in the heart of the Great Wildebeest Migration.

February 12, 2015

The Cadogan guide to Tanzania

Filed under: A guide to Tanzania,An Introduction — 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.

March 16, 2013

History of Tanzania – 19th century

Filed under: 19th Century — 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 — 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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