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Selous Game Reserve

August 18, 2017

Experience the Best of both Bush and Beach in Tanzania

Filed under: Selous Game Reserve,Zanzibar — 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 ZanzibarStone 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 — 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.

History of Tanzania – 20th Century

Filed under: 20th Century — Tanzania Odyssey @ 2:32 pm

The Maji Maji Rebellion

The new colonialists continued to encounter serious problems with subduing the southern tribes, characterised most powerfully by the Maji Maji rebellion that began in 1905, and was thought to have been most widespread united resistance to colonial rule anywhere in Africa. The rebellion started west of Kilwa, and spread across the country until nearly all the southern tribes were allied, but the most remarkable incentive to this show of strength was the unfounded belief that the tribes had access to magical water that would protect them against German bullets. On this understanding, the united front confronted the military forces of the Europeans with impressive bravado, until thousands were machine-gunned to death when they tried to storm the fort at Mahenge. 75,000 people died in two years, and their resistance finally broke in 1907, when famine swept their land as a direct result of the Germans resorting to the same effective ‘scorched earth’ policy of retaliation that they had employed to such devastating effect previously.

 

German consolidation

The German colonial grasp had been considerably strengthened in 1890 by a devastating outbreak of rinderpest that wiped out an estimated 90 per cent of the cattle in this first instance of this disease in Tanganyika. Other diseases, such as jiggers and smallpox, also entered the country at this time, and are known to have been a direct result of foreign intervention. This severely weakened the population of rural communities dependent on cattle, especially the pastoral communities in the north, such as the Maasai, who suffered a severe blow to their military strength and standing, and diminished any possibility of resistance to the incoming powers. Like the Maasai, the WaArusha resisted and were defeated, but the new forces were even strategically welcomed by Chagga chiefs, who used the newcomers to settle scores among themselves.  As a result, when German and British settlers came to the grazing lands around the Rift Valley and slopes of Kilimanjaro at this time, they claimed that they found them uninhabited. British colonialists became increasingly nervous about the encroaching power of their European neighbours, and in 1890 they persuaded the Sultan of Zanzibar to sign a treaty that made the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba a British Protectorate.

 

By 1896 the Germans had constructed forts in most key areas, and enforced a number of taxes, such as taxes on huts, which had never gained great popularity. They preferred the cooler mountain climate of the north, around Kilimanjaro and the Usambara Mountains, where the land was better suited to growing crops, and where divisions among the chiefdoms meant that they even found some allies on arrival. Rindi of Moshi actually welcomed them, in return for their support in putting down nearby chiefs Sina and Marealle of Marangu.

The Europeans made Tanga their main HQ on the coast, with cool and pleasant settlement in the foothills of the nearby Usambaras. They set their sights on developing potentially rewarding coffee and sisal plantations, and encouraged all well-to-do chiefs and akidas to follow. The first 62 sisal plants were illegally imported from Brazil in 1892, yet by 1910 there were fifty four plantations, exporting thousands of tons a year.

The first railway was built inland from Tanga after 1891, which extended to Mombo, Kilimanjaro and Meru before the great rebellion of 1905. Lines were extended to Tabora in 1912, and Kigoma by 1914, just before the outbreak of World War One.

 

The Germans devised their own system of power and authority, although this was originally based on the one already employed by the Sultan. They retained the system of officials which included a Liwali as governor of each major town, and administrators, called akidas were placed in a subordinate but supporting role to them. Jumbes, or headmen, were responsible for collecting tax. Gradually the original Liwalis were replaced by German officials, and the other posts were given to students of the German schools. They created a number of schools, aiming mainly for literacy and the creation of African administrators, and these had a reputation for forced attendance and a tendency for corporal punishment.

 

Run up to Independence

Following international turmoil of World War One, and Germany’s defeat, the colony of German East Africa was renamed Tanganyika, governed by British from 1916 –17, until, ostensibly, 1961. The name Tanganyika is thought to have derived from one of two sources, either the combination of the Swahili words ‘Tanga’ – Swahili for sail – and ‘nyika’ – meaning the dry expanse of the interior, or alternatively it may come from the Swahili word ‘Mchanganyiko’, meaning a grouping of 120 linguistic peoples.

 

A relevant chapter of World War I was played out on East African soil, over the subdued plains of Dutch East Africa. (William Boyd makes informed reference to a number of these key events in his ‘fictional’ novel ‘The Ice-Cream War’. Finally German East Africa became Tanganyika, and fell under British administration from 1920 – 1946, under a mandate from the League of Nations. The British confiscated German property, and auctioned all their estates and plantations in 1922, when many of smaller properties were bought by Greeks and Asians. As sisal export recovered these new settlers made good money for a while, but many farms were also neglected.

 

British Occupation

The British set out to implement a policy of ‘indirect rule’; Governor Sir Donald Cameron strongly encouraged at least an appearance of rule through individual chiefs with their own courts and tax collection systems, although in reality these were firmly under the jurisdiction of British district commissioners. But the war had sapped both energy and finances, which were further dented by the Great Depression of the 1930s, and never regained right up to the outbreak of World War II in 1940. Real investment in the new colonial protectorate of Tanganyika only really occurred during last 15 years of British occupation.

 

In the post-war years there was a serious shortage of edible fats and oils, and the Tanganyika Director of Agriculture and the British Labour Government devised an ambitious ‘ground nut project’, aiming to cultivate three million acres of ground nuts. The project required building new harbours and railway lines, and was estimated to cost around £24 million, but ten years later £35 million had been spent, and only a few areas of bush had been cleared. The project had been dramatically rushed, with little pre-planning and soil testing, so that it soon became clear that the ground cleared was entirely unsuitable for ground nut crops.

 

This was just one of a series of agricultural crises. In 1955, the British tried to enforce terrace farming in the Uluguru, Usambara and Pare mountains and were met with considerable resistance. One farmer was shot for insubordination, until finally, in 1956, the laws were relaxed and the peasants pulled down all the existing terraces. It was later found that production of rice improved. It finally became clear that forced productivity, started by German colonial system, was counter-productive.

 

The British Protectorate

The Prince of Wales made a popular tour of Tanganyika in 1928, and by the following year Sir Percival Phillips wrote in The Daily Mail that Dodoma was ‘Clapham Junction-in-the-Bush’ . The city streets were increasingly filled with shiny motor cars, and the population in Dar-es-Salaam was estimated in the British papers to be about 1,200 Europeans (120 Germans, a few Greek, a handful of Syrians and the rest British), 5000 Indians and 25,000 African. By 1945, Tanzania and Zanzibar were once again part of the world economy as exporters of raw materials and importers of manufactured goods. But gradually the balance of power began to shift to the USA, where nearly all goods were grown and raw materials were also manufactured, and it became impossible for the African countries to keep up. The colonies were less and less economically viable, and the time came for them to begin to earn their Independence.

 

The first president of a new republic: Julius Kambarage Nyerere

Julius Kambarage Nyerere headed the political republic of Tanzania for nearly a quarter of a century. He reigned as autocratic President of the country’s one-party state from Tanganiyikan Independence in May 1961 until the elections of 1985, when he took an almost unprecedented step for an African president, and left office voluntarily.

 

Ideology versus reality

His people remember him as ‘Mwalimu’, meaning ‘Teacher’, which may reflect his attitude towards governance of people whom he considered too ill educated to know what was best for them. His leadership earned him accolades such as ‘Baba wa Taifa’ – ‘Father of the Nation’- ‘The Father of Authentic African Socialism’, and ‘The Conscience of Africa’, and did great things to the new republic in terms of creating a strong national identity, but also resulted in devastating economic decline.

[and while his ambition to develop a model for African Socialism succeeded in uniting the more than 130 disparate tribes and numerous religions of the country, the same people were devastated by absolute economic decline when he stood down from power in the mid-eighties.]

 

Julius Kambarage was son of Nyerere Burito, an aristocratic but illiterate chief of the small Wazanaki tribe. The future president led a rural, traditional tribal life until he was twelve years old. He was originally educated at the Native Authority school in Musoma, but then moved on the British-run Roman Catholic secondary school, where he came top of the class and converted to the Roman Catholic faith. Missionaries sent him to Edinburgh University in 1949, where he was received with a scholarship and studied a degree in history, politics, and law, and thus became the first black graduate in British Administered Tanganyika. During this time Nyerere was greatly influenced by a close association with Fabian socialists, and later said that he formed the whole of his political philosophy while he was there. Also during this time Nyerere undertook the impressive task of translating choosing two very different Shakespeare plays into KiSwahili, reinterpreting both Julius Caesar and The Merchant of Venice.

 

In 1953 he married Maria Magige, and the couple subsequently had a family of five sons and 2 daughters. The following year he headed the transformation of the African Association, turning it from the non-political organisation created by the British Colonial Civil Service into a powerful political force, supported by the growing group of educated Africans who now realised that the colonial state was holding them back. The group was renamed the Tanganyikan African National Union (TANU) and was committed to achieving independence.

The success and power of Nyerere’s political drive was rewarded by his election to the legislative council of the former British colony of Tanganyika under Sir Edward Twining in 1958, and he became Prime Minister when the country achieved Independence in 1961. Nineteen months later, when the constitution was amended to make Tanganyika a republic, Julius Nyerere was elected as president and TANU was declared the only legal political party. The slogan ‘Uhuru na Umoja’, ‘Freedom and Unity’ adopted in 1954, became the motto of the country.

 

Development of the constitution, and merger with Zanzibar

The British Parliament had also approved a new constitution for Zanzibar in 1960, but the first elections in January 1961 had ended in a deadlock result, and further elections in June, although accompanied by rioting resulting in numerous casualties, resulted in a coalition of the Zanzibar Nationalist Party (ZNP), and Zanzibar and Pemba People’s Party (ZNPP), each mainly representing the population of Zanzibari Arabs. Internal self-government followed in June 1963, and finally Independence was achieved in December. But many people of Zanzibar were incensed that power had been delivered straight back into the hands of the old Arab families, and the following month an internal revolution, led by ‘Field Marshal’ John Okello and his Revolutionary Council, effectively overthrew the government. Many Arabs were killed in the ensuing riots and many fled for their lives before Sayyid Jamshid ibn Abdullah, who had succeeded to the sultanate following his father’s death in 1963, was deposed, and Zanzibar was proclaimed a republic.

Okello was later refused re-entry back in Zanzibar, and Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume, was installed as president of the People’s Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba, at the helm of the Afro-Shirazi Party and ostensibly representing the majority African Population.

 

The Revolution was followed by an army mutiny on the mainland in 1964, which badly shook Nyerere’s confidence, forced him to turn (reluctantly) to the British Marines for assistance to suppress the dissenters. As a consequence the army was restructured, with many Tanganyikans replacing old British officers, and shortly afterwards Nyerere flew to sign the ‘articles of Union’ with Zanzibar, which led to the merger of the previously independent countries of Tanzania and Zanzibar, established as the United Republic of Tanzania and Zanzibar by an Interim Constitution of 1965. A permanent constitution for the United Republic was approved in 1977, when TANU joined with the Afro-Shirazi Party of Zanzibar, and they were amalgamated into the Revolutionary Party Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM). Nyerere, as president of the United Republic, reigned as supreme head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces, with President Karume of Zanzibar as Vice President.

Military security became a huge concern after the mutiny, and large numbers of Eastern Germans and Russians were shipped in to train two thirds of the army, near a camp just a few miles from one run by Chinese for the final third.

 

Nevertheless, Zanzibar retained a separate constitution, approved in 1979 and amended (with the mainland constitution) in 1985. The islands keep an elected president and a cabinet, the Supreme Revolutionary Council, and a parliament made up of elected and appointed members called the House of Representatives. Both of these deal with matters of law and justice internal to Zanzibar. The merger has not been wholly smooth running since its conception; in the early days of Karume the right to detain anyone apparently opposing the state without trial was being blatantly abused, and the mainland government was powerless to intervene (although there were also numerous political prisoners on the mainland). The outcome was that Karume paid the ultimate price for apparently abusing his position when he was assassinated by the military in 1972, and his successor, Aboud Jumbe, firmly steered Zanzibar policy a little closer in line with that of the mainland.  There remain factions of Zanzibari society who continue to lobby for greater autonomy from the mainland, although the islands remain increasingly dependent on the mainland for utilities such as electricity and water supplies.

 

 

March 14, 2013

Safaris

Filed under: Tanzania Safari Guide — Tanzania Odyssey @ 3:14 pm

Safari history

Safari is a KiSwahili word that evolved from the Arabic safariya, meaning a voyage or expedition. Although Tanzanian Swahili uses it to describe undertaking a journey of any kind, and a popular radio jingle for Safari Lager sings merrily about the joys of ‘Safari, o Safari the beer on any safari journey’, for most people these days the word has one specific meaning: travelling to watch wildlife in the African bush, for the sheer interest and enjoyment of doing so.

A main attraction of the vast protected reaches of the Tanzanian safari landscape is its utterly raw, wild nature. Each day sees pure energy and instinct focused entirely on survival, life reduced to its most basic impulses, the absolutes of killing, feeding, reproduction. And yet no experience is guaranteed. Spotting different animals and birds is a matter of luck, diligence and some knowledge of their preferred habitats, but often your most breathtaking moments will be the least expected. An entire afternoon might be spent searching for a glimpse of a leopard, to find instead a vision of migrating wildebeest and zebra jostling for precious, dangerous minutes at a crocodile-haunted waterhole, or a herd of impala poised like dancers in a lovely sunlit glade.

One enduring truth of safaris, whether you are [a novice or] an old-timer, or even if you spend every day of the year guiding clients through the passions and pathways of the bush: every safari is different. Each venture into the bush brings new experiences, sights, sounds and smells, and always the possibility that you may be in the right place at the right time to witness something marvellous. 

The word ‘safari’ was introduced to English by Sir Richard Francis Burton, the scholar, explorer and linguist, fluent in 29 languages. Burton was so passionate about his studies of Arabic culture that on occasion he dyed his skin darker in order to travel to places not usually open to white men, and was the first European to make the pilgrimage to Mecca and through the closed city of Harar in Abyssinia.

Safari used to mean dangerous and unpalatable expeditions into the African interior, whether to plunder ivory and slaves for trade or to go on hunting sprees. But changing attitudes and ideals over the past couple of centuries have irrevocably altered the definition of safari. Now the images that the word conjures, aside from subtly co-ordinated khaki clothes, are of exploration into the wilds of the African bush motivated only by a fascination for beauty, natural life and adventure. The safari is now more progressively focused on conservation and no longer on conquest, except for the achievement of the experience itself.

The change in attitude began in the late 1800s, in the era of the first expeditions undertaken by international geographers, naturalists (Birchell, Harry Johnston), and hunters, (Cornwallis Harris, Fredrick Courtnay Selous), who began to realize the need for conservation of African wildlife and to work for it. East Africa became the focal point for such safaris, not least because the southern African wildlife had suffered such decimation at the hands of early hunters.

At this time too, more people began to travel for travel’s sake, simply to feed their curiosity and need for adventure, inspired by the writings and information filtering back from the strange African continent. Some of the greatest proponents of adventurous travel at this time were women[. Among those who demonstrated notable spirit] were the flamboyant feminist American Mary French Sheldon, who [single-handedly] ran a 150-porter trek from Zanzibar to Kilimanjaro in 1891, and the impressive Mary Hall, who made a successful trek from Cape Town to Cairo at 50. (Mary French Sheldon subsequently published a revealing, still readable account of her trip, entitled Sultan to Sultan: Adventures among the Masai and other tribes of East Africa

As more writings and news of the African colonies and protectorates drifted back to Europe and America, safaris developed a glamorous appeal. Hunting safaris in East Africa were the widely reported fun of the rich and famous, of film stars, aristocrats, the monarchy, or any millionaire rich enough to afford the pleasure. Theodore Roosevelt’s safari in 1909– during which an estimated 5,000 animals, including nine white rhinos, were killed – reportedly cost £15,000, and no doubt others succeeded in spending even more. At the turn of the twentieth century any safari into the bush required hundreds of porters to carry a vast cargo of goods for elaborately styled camping, particularly impressive when you consider that every single item was carried on foot. Even the white ‘masters’ would frequently be carried, borne between the shoulders of four strong men on a palanquin, a shady, often canvas ‘box’ contrived to rest on two long poles. So the safari industry was born in these early days, existing solely to cater to the demands of such high-rolling and demanding adventurers.

The invention of the motor car in the early 20th century considerably reduced the cost of such East African adventures, and hunting as the primary aim of safari was gradually superseded by a greater interest in wildlife and travel. Other modes of transport also became popular, including hot air balloons, following the Boyce Balloonograph Expedition of 1909, masterminded by a Chicago newspaper. The newly possible photographic safaris were well-publicised by Martin and Osa Johnson when they embarked on a five-year film trip in the 1920s, funded by George Eastman of Eastman-Kodak. The African wildlife safari was fast developing an ever-closer association with conservation.

Safaris today

Any extended trip into the wilderness of the African bush is necessarily a costly venture, after international airfares and internal travel, and with safety, comfort and possibly fully-catered camping all needing to be funded. But generally it has become less prohibitively expensive to experience the extraordinary beauty of the African wildlife, and the safari market has developed different levels of service to suit differing budgets.

During the last decade a much greater range of choice and style has become available in the furthest reaches of the African bush, from fly-in opulence to simple budget camping, with different operators appealing to widely different budgets and tastes. A number of fine lodges maintain a remarkable standard of style and finesse, even when the daily delivery of food and supplies from the nearest town entails at least six hours’ bumpy drive, and the cost of enjoying their luxury is often extravagant, but not ridiculous.

The methods and means of safari travel have also diversified, so that you may choose to watch wildlife from a specially adapted safari vehicle, a balloon, a boat, on horseback or, in the tradition of old, close-up and personal—on foot. Itineraries suitable for all different budgets, ambitions and experiences are available. The key is in preparation, and in choosing the right combination to suit you.

Safaris in Tanzania

Including the National Parks, Game Reserves, Conservation Areas and Marine Parks, Tanzania has set aside 38% of its overall landmass for conservation protection in some form or another. It is an impressive expanse. The Serengeti alone, just one of its twelve National Parks, is 7,000 square kilometres, comparative in size to Belgium, Wales or the state of Ohio; the Selous Game Reserve encompasses a greater region for conservation than any other in Africa. From east to west, south to north, the landscapes, eco-systems and altitudes vary dramatically within the different conservation areas to provide an incredible range of choice for safaris.

A safari in any of the parks, conservation areas or game reserves in Tanzania should not be undertaken lightly. Regardless of the enormous advances in modern safari-going, all safaris require pre-planning and preparation, especially if you wish to travel independently. Most people wishing to experience the magical spell of the East African bush venture into the wilderness accompanied by a driver-guide, and potentially cooks and bottle-washers if they are planning to camp. Thus the job of planning and equipping the safari is left in the hands of experts, while you need only worry about your camera, films, sun cream and the experience.

All safari-goers, independent or guided, should adhere to the rules for conservation and preservation as laid down by each park and region. These are discussed within the text for each park, below; a more complete instruction is available at each park gate when you pay your entry fees. At least one popular conservationist’s rule applies to all, and that is to ‘take only photographs, and leave only footprints’.

March 13, 2013

South From Kilimanjaro – South Pare Mountains

Filed under: South Pare Mountains — Tanzania Odyssey @ 3:35 pm

South Pare Mountains

The rural spread of the Southern Pare mountains is also a magical, forested expanse of hidden villages, valleys and homesteads clinging to steep handmade terraces, with plenty to inspire an inquisitive mind. The tourism project here is located in high in the Mbaga Hills, in an area with an extraordinary local and colonial history. The traditional Pare culture is still much in evidence, and witch doctors from here are so renowned that people travel long distances, even urban dwellers from Arusha venture this far south to decipher unusual problems. Areas such as Malameni Rock, where children were sacrificed to appease evil spirits until the 1930s, can now be climbed after receiving special instruction from the hut below. It is not far from here to the legendary Mghimbi Caves, which provided a natural hideaway and haven for local tribes during slave raids. Both of these can be visited on a half day walk. More spiritualism can be found among the tropical fruit trees and banana palms in Ikongwe Village, reached in a full day excursion from Mbaga, a beautiful and fruitful area that is believed to be a gift from the heavens, and where now a very distinct religious community has developed. Another area considered with great respect by local communities is Mpepera Viewpoint atop Mpepera Hill, where a cross has been erected to represent the peace between the resident Catholic and Protestant communities. The viewpoint is used by locals as a peaceful area for prayers, and gives excellent views of Mount Kilimanjaro, or the Mbaga Hills and Mkomazi Game Reserve when the skies are clear. Full day walks can also be arranged into local villages to visit families practising traditional methods to brew quantities of beer or longer hikes through unspoilt woodland such as Shengena Forest. Here it is possible to camp under the stars and wake up for a sunrise hike up Shengena Peak, the highest point in the Pare and Usambara Mountains at 2,463m above sea level, and discover fresh springs and troops of colobus monkeys and enjoy magnificent views over Same and Lushoto. All or any of these can be visited with the great company of local Pare guides contacted via Tona Lodge (see below), who are keen to explain any questions regarding their cultural and natural environment with an ever improving command of English.

History

The Pare are known to have had an extensive fortified capital, under their chief Ghendewa. He started and managed a conscript army and masterminded a unified tribe with a ‘sophisticated social system’. Ghendewa was killed fighting the Chagga. Reverend Jacob Jenson Dannholz missionary from Leibzig came to live in Mbaga for approximately 10 years between 1908 – 1917, and built a church and farmhouse on Tona Moorland. Locally known as The White Man’s House, but it is officially named ‘Dannholz Cottage’ in honour of the man who built it. This has been used by the missionaries ever since, and four bedrooms are available for visitors.

March 12, 2013

South from Kilimanjaro – Amani Nature Reserve

Filed under: Amani Nature Reserve — Tanzania Odyssey @ 3:54 pm

The German colonial government soon realised the rich potential of this mountain region for growing crops, and although the coffee plantations in this region were not terribly successful, they had far greater rewards from plantations of sisal, tobacco, and spices. Their environmental studies developed the Arboretum at Lushoto, and they soon became aware of the unusual density of wildlife in the Western Usambara Range. In 1902, thirteen forest reserves were surveyed and gazetted, including 8,380ha at the Amani Nature reserve north of Muheza. This incorporates 1.065 ha now owned by private tea companies managed by the East Usambara Tea Company and the Amani Botanical Garden, one of the largest of its kind in Africa. A large number of indigenous species were left rooted, and over 1,000 species of exotic trees were imported from foreign climes. Many of these can still be identified by their ancient metal nameplates, still legible if a little dusty, but the botanical garden is now extremely overgrown and large areas are remain impenetrable. Walking paths that have been cleared enough to enjoy run from the top of the hill near to the Rest House and Research Centre, a steep climb by all accounts, even in a tough 4×4 vehicle in which you will be inundated by tea plantation workers desperate for a lift.

The Research centre was officially closed during World War II, although it made a contribution to the war effort in devising quinine from the local cinchona tree. When the British finally had time to invest in area after the war they planted 2,200 hectares of tea plantations in cultivated regions and built a hydroelectric power station, the remnants of which can still be seen. They reopened in 1953 the research centre with the emphasis only on Agriculture, and then moved this department to Kenya in 1961 and it finally became a centre for Malaria Research, and remains so to this day.

Despite concerted efforts to regenerate this resource for tourists today the Botanical Gardens and Forest Reserve still remain sorely under developed in this respect. The old German stationmaster’s house, dating from between 1905 and 1910 has been beautifully restored and converted into a fine Information Centre for the reserve. Plans are afoot to develop maps and a guidebook for visitors, although these were not available at the latter end of 1999.

South from Kilimanjaro – Usambara Mountains

Filed under: Usambara Mountains — Tanzania Odyssey @ 3:51 pm

There is only one tarmac road into the Usambara Mountains, and this is the one that wends from Mombo to the small waterfall-focused town of Soni, and along a wonderfully lush and picturesque river valley to Lushoto, the centre of regional administration. This extraordinary region is tucked high in the hills, with a surprising local and colonial history. Again the region has an aura of sublime natural beauty, with deep valleys and rushing mountain streams at the foot of steep terraced hillsides that rise up to meet the misty morning. In their dense thicket an abundance of plant species has earned this often overlooked hidden corner of Tanzania a name as ‘the Galapagos of the plant world’.

The Usambara Range divided into East and West by the 4km wide Lwengera Valley, that lies in between.

The West Usambaras

All of the mountains in this eastern arc are ancient, far exceeding the age of Kilimanjaro and Meru, and are thought to have formed as mountains around 25 million years ago, although the rock itself was up to 600,000 years old. When this rock was forced upwards it formed an island of plant life that has since enjoyed a haven of climatic stability, so rescuing such species from the intensive heat of the plains. But while the indigenous African Violet thrived in its quiet, natural state, subsequent populations of man in these mountains suffered a endured a far less stable existence. There is evidence of early iron-working Neolithic settlements in these mountains between 3000 and 3,500 years ago, and then an influx of Bantu peoples around 2,000 years ago who are thought to have migrated from the Congo. Some of these intermingled with the original tribes, and thus originated the Shambaa, or Sambaa, people of the Usambaras today. The Shambaa clans traditionally welcomed refugees to their mountainous realm and supposedly lived harmoniously with their neighbours although little is known historically until the early 18th century and the arrival of the first king of the Usambaras, Mbega, father of the Kilindi Dynasty. Family members of this ruling class are remembered with reverence and awe, and rumours abound as to how their magical powers were strong enough to make rain, and their pale coloured eyes and distinctive pale skin coloration. King Mbega was also reputedly a professional bushpig hunter from the Nguru Mountains, who considerately took a wife from each clan and provided each with a son to rule it. But when the infamous Maasai tribe assembled on the westward plains and began to threaten the Shambaa livelihood in a determined and warlike quest for grazing land and cattle, the mountain tribe developed greater political and military structures under the leadership of Mbegha’s grandson, Kinyashi. From the middle of the 1800s the Usambaras were fraught with violent struggles as they were subject to attacks from their neighbouring tribes plundering livestock and food, and from slave traders, but thanks to its elevated position and respected cultural hierarchy the kingdom survived. On Kinyashi’s death his son Kimweri (of the Kilindi dynasty) was proclaimed ‘Simba Mwene’, the Lion King, and he became a powerful military leader, eventually controlling of much of the Southern Pare Mountains from his base at Vuga, near Soni. But as the local clan chiefs, Kimweri’s sons, became more adept at raiding the slave caravans for arms to retaliate invasions, they then began infighting for greater power, so decentralising and weakening the dynasty. Vugu was just retained as the Shambaa capital, and the background of military organisation enabled the Shambaa tribes to support 1888/9 Abushiri Uprising, but the weakening power base allowed the German Administration to walk in at the latter end, having quashed the rebellion. Arriving at a time of chaos and disarray enabled the Europeans to persuade individual chiefs to sign away their territories for small reward. The cool, pleasant climate of the Usambaras attracted a number of settlers to its wide green valleys and so charmed the German administration that they originally wanted to make it their colonial capital, and called the town Wilhelmstal after Kaiser Wilhelm. The land is wild and steep, but the newcomers implemented building and engineering that still reflect their governmental attitudes. They constructed a solid cobblestone road to climb the 33km between Mombo and Lushoto which remains mainly unchanged to this day (although resurfaced), and it is still possible to see their original brickwork in the many mountain stream bridges along the way. This rises on a gentle incline, to allow their oxcarts to pass back and forth with heavy loads, and is shaded by an imposing avenue of wide trunk plane trees. Settler farming flourished, encouraging a number of stone homes designed in the colonial style, still much in evidence today, and the area was cultivated, albeit with some shaky starts. The Germans set out with grand plans to develop coffee plantations here, but having cleared the forest and planted crops it became evident that the new plots did not provide enough shelter. Fruit trees, however, flourished, especially pears and plums, and the area continues to export fresh produce around the country. Success was also found in plantations of sisal, which made certain planters wealthy men with the freedom to set up country retreats in areas such as Lushoto, where crops also extended to rubber, cotton, tobacco, sugar, wheat and maize. After the Versailles Treaty of 1919 Tanganyika was made a Mandate Territory under the League of Nations and then awarded to Great Britain for administration. Although the British discouraged settlers, there were many civil servants who did need and build their own houses. Many of these good-looking buildings can still be found around the Lushoto area, adding to the bizarre combination of old colonial German and British alongside African homesteads all situated in a distinct natural and yet well cultivated landscape.

What to do in the West Usambaras

The excellent tourism office in Lushoto town (signposted left past the bank) is extremely helpful in organising guides for driving, walking or hiking around the area. They provide numerous options for camping, overnight stays with local families or days out, and guides are likely to charge a fee per person per day on top of the $10 charge paid to the Tourism Project. One of the easiest and most impressive natural areas to reach on an enjoyable walk from the town centre is Irente Viewpoint. This is a wild rocky outcrop, approached along a narrow, flower-fringed walkway and emerging at a giddy windblown height above the Maasai steppe. Views are superb, and nearby scenery is impressively dramatic. The round trip takes between three and four hours on foot from the town, although anyone with private vehicles are able to drive a large portion of the way if desired. An old campsite cunningly named both Viewpoint and Bellavista Campsite has been renovated and improved by Louis, the charismatic proprietor who obviously has exciting plans for his campsite and his cooking, although so far guacamole is the only recommendation. Prices presently seem to reflect future aspirations, and are no doubt negotiable (Tsh 5000 rent, Tsh 2000 park) . Any guide from the tourism office can show you the way to Irente viewpoint, but the route is clear from Irente Farm. The farm has developed as a worthwhile stopover for buying picnic goods, since it has established as a reliable producer of wholemeal breads and jams and fresh dairy products, (and any traveller to Tanzania for any length of time will appreciate the joy of a delicious cheese supplier!). The farm has also received attention from the legendary local homemaker, known as Comrade ‘Kipepe’, meaning ‘butterfly’, who has sculpted his family home entirely from mud, including the table, benches, shelves and water system. Kipepe has now built a mud shop, ‘duka’ in Swahili, at Irente, artistically headed with a wide head of a horned cow.

More homemade goods can be found in production at the landscaped and lovingly tended Catholic Mission of the Montessori Sisters in Ubiri, where wines, cheeses and jams can also be inspected, tasted and bought. The mission can be visited on a three to four hour walking round trip from town. A slightly longer walking trip of between four and five hours leads up to the farmlands of Jaegertal, through an impressive fruit tree nursery and on up to the village of Vuli which has benefit from irrigation, conservation and farming projects. This walk can also include a return trip via the Lushoto Arboretum or Herbarium, an impressive collection of pressed plants and leaves that were collected from all around Tanzania during the German era. To see the collection independently, ask for Mr Msangi or Mr Mabula.

Guides can also lead on a rewarding walk to the Magamba Rainforest, inhabited by troops of dashingly collared colobus monkeys and numerous species of forest bird, including the Usambara akalat and Usambara weaver, making this a particularly rewarding destination for anyone with special interests in birdwatching. It is possible to camp at the quiet site equipped with a loo and running water, near a disused sawmill at the centre of the forest, or to make your way to the comfortable and welcoming lodges at Mkuzi and Migambo, mentioned below.

The walk to Mgamba from town also goes via the royal mountain top village of Kwembago, the ancient centre of the Daffa family, a subclan of the traditionally revered ruling class the Kilindi Dynasty. This trip takes between five and six hours on foot, and returns through the village of Magamba, from where it is also possible to catch a bus back to Lushoto or on to Mlalo.

Longer trips can be made over a period of days, either camping or staying in guesthouses on route. An excellent longer trek leads through the forests, mountains and valleys and villages between Lushoto and the quaint and historic village of Mtae, an important elevated boundary post between the Maasai plains and lands of the Shambaa high on the westernmost rim of the West Usambara escarpment. The first German European missionaries were allowed to build their church in Mtae (sometimes written Mtii), having survived the ordeal of being led to an ancestral burial site by the local chief and amazing him when they were not destroyed or distracted by the potentially fatal mizumu, the spirits of the dead. The panoramic views from here are worth the climb, with mile upon mile of extraordinary landscape stretching to the far horizon to reveal the Southern Pare mountain ranges and Mkomazi game reserve, Nyumba ya Mungu reservoir and sometimes even the peaks of Kilimanjaro some 250 kilometres distant. The first road down the western face is presently being constructed to Mtae with donations from the ancestors of the first european visitors, so forging a historic link between these mountains and the Maasai plains below. A couple of simple but welcoming guesthouses in Mtae provide rooms for just two or three dollars, the Mwivano II is just slightly more costly than the Kuna Maneno. A local café near the bus station provides wholesome plates of local food and homemade breads, and a nearby bar sells beer – although not necessarily cold. Buses between Mtae and Lushoto take around two hours, leaving Lushoto in the mid afternoon and leaving Mtae at 5.30 am.

New tours have recently been added to the range organised by the Cultural Tourism Program, on of which heads even further into the Usambara range, to discover the isolated and idiosyncratic town of Mlalo, clinging high in the hills 30 km from Lushoto. Surrounded by a dramatic backdrop of wild mountain peaks, Mlalo is a rambling sprawl of extraordinary homes designed with two storeys and prettily carved wooden balconies in a neatly cultivated and terraced valley irrigated by the Umba River. The town produces a number of hand crafted pots in the tradition of the Shambaa, who once believed that the creator god Sheuta formed people from the earth as a potter works her earthen vessels. Ancient beliefs hold that pot making is the work of women, with techniques passed down the matrilineal line from mother to daughter. Their pottery and pots made in the nearby village of Kileti are then transported to the Lushoto market for sale. Buses run daily between Lushoto and Mlalo, via Magamba, and take around two hours. The Afilex Hotel is generally recommended as the best guesthouse, although be prepared for reading by gaslamp, as there is no electricity this far into the mountains.

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