Monday, May 25, 2009

Mobile internet service to boom in Tanzania

A new mobile Internet Service Provider (ISP) known as Dovetel (T) Ltd, which has been granted a license to operate in Tanzania, has appointed Zimbra, a division of yahoo to provide an email platform for its customers in the country. This follows the approval granted by the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) as per law before a related company could function in the country. Yahoo internet is a world leader in open source email and collaboration software. According to a report released in Dar es Salaam recently said that, the new internet service provider has been chosen due to its long experience in the field alongside with its affordability, reliability and innovation have been the most criteria for the selection of the new underlying platform for Dovetel customers.

Most African countries south of Sahara desert still lacks reliable internet communication due to poor infrastructure. Unlike in European countries the internet services is more reliable and efficient. Mobile internet services is the best solution to African countries.

Most importantly, the new service would take care of virus scanning of emails as well as removing spam on behalf of all customers as part of the service. Business customers would also have their own domain name in their email address, which means reflecting the names of their respective companies. Dovetel (T) Ltd was founded in 2005 by Tanzanian scholar Professor Peter Chitamu with the purposes of capturing the growing demand for modern communication in Tanzania. Professor Chitamu is a lecturer of telecommunication studies at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Visiting southern highlands’ tourist attraction centres including Matema beach

DESPITE of the infrastructural hurdles facing Southern Highlands Regions of Tanzania, more efforts are needed to improve infrastructural development to rescue tourism potentials found within the region. These are the valuable treasures which to a greater extent contributes to the national economic development as a whole. The vast Southern Highland region is known by the big four regions that is composed of Iringa, Mbeya, Rukwa and Ruvuma, apart from being famous for agricultural production, however, the regions depends to a certain extent for tourism. Transport problems facing these four regions is a hitch to visitors wishing to explore nature and historical sites, says an expert in tourism industry based in Iringa town. According to him, if the dilapidated roads that leads to most tourist destination centres are repaired, more tourists would come to view sites found within the region.

Most roads leading to national parks in Southern Highland regions are still in bad state.

This is a typical example of a road that leads to Ruaha National park, the largest in the country. Such corrugated roads becomes impassable during rainy seasons.

A lion crosses a road in his search for a prey at Katavi National park

Many travelers pass through the region on their way to neighbouring countries such as Zambia and Malawi while few give a second thought to stop along the way. It’s a pity since this region offers numerous attractions but lacks reliable infrastructural facilities to enable promote the region. Among the attraction sites includes lake Nyasa and Matema beach where three countries meet. Africa’s third largest body of waters, Lake Nyasa is 550Km long and 75Km wide at its widest point. However, according to Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), the government should look into a possibility of introducing beach tourism along the shores of lake Nyasa which have ever since remained untapped. Its shores borders three countries of Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique, set against the stunning backdrop of the Livingstone mountains, the Tanzania shores are not short of interest including Matema and its fabulous beach. Quite and attractive, Matema is a small town that caters to visitors wishing to experience an unpretentious local nature. Although tourist infrastructure is limited, but excursions are available onto the lake or down the coast while the nearby waterfalls and caves are delight.

Fishing is the main economic activity of the people living in Matema village whose geographical location is close to the lake Nyasa, in Mbeya region.

Two Europeans, nationals of Belgium standing in the waterfront of lake Nyasa viewing a spectacular view of Matema beach during their recent visit. Tanzania Tourist Board is underway to modernize the area as a tourist holiday centre.

Little traditional huts built along the beach line at Matema village.
One can spend the day engage in any number of activities or simply sunbathe on the beach in the year around warm sunshine. Mbozi meteorite is a must for visitors with time for exploration. Seldom seen by travelers, the Mbozi meteorite was only discovered by outsiders in 1930s, despite the fact that it had been known to locals for centuries. Seemingly its existence has never been reported because of taboos surrounding its region and purpose. Currently available information from Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) says that, Mbeya city and the Livingstone mountains including other areas surrounding it are among the most precious tourism sites in the Southern Highland region. Formerly a gold rush town, Mbeya is currently the region’s commercial and administrative centre and has of late become a busy cross-border trading centre of the two neighbouring landlocked countries of Zambia and Malawi. Going down at Mbarari junction, visitors can find the start of the hiking trail to the Mbeya peak, at 2,818m the highest peak in the range. Also of the interest is the remote Lake Rukwa, a real out in the middle of nowhere paradise that can only be accessed with a range vehicles such as 4WD.

A monkey on top of Mbeya peak

This is how Mbeya city can be viewed from its peak in eastern direction

Because of the economic importance of Mbeya city in southern regions, it has a new airport since 2006 that provides air-links with other airports in the country such as in Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Mwanza and Dodoma. The Kitulo plateau is a botanic delight situated between the Livingstone mountains and Uporoto ranges. The high Kitulo plateau is a unique experience of academic plant life for lovers of nature and botany. This combined with the breathtaking scenery of the Livingstone mountains backdrop has earned it the local name of “Bustani ya Mungu” which literally means God’s garden.
Kitulo plateau is one of the greatest floral spectacles in the world and a must in any southern highlands itinery. Once believed to be less visited area, the natural parts of the southern highlands tourist circuit is now picking up despite of the fact that there are some tourist destination centers which have remained untapped.

Two different signboards showing Kitulo National Park, on the roadside to Mbeya region.

Tourists taking photos of the natural flowers at Kitulo national park

According to the National Parks’ Directorate of Tourism, the pattern is gradually changing because of the publicity and promotional campaigns the authorities concerned have been conducting. TANAPA has taken deliberate efforts to promote the southern circuit because of geographical locations and infrastructural systems. Most national parks in this region are located far away from the main road coming from Dar es Salaam and moreover are not in good condition. Unlike the northern circuit of Arusha which has ample space, the southern circuit if improved would soon become popular to both foreign and local tourists.

In disbelief…?, a tourist is looking at a 4WD car in which he was traveling after its windscreen had been splashed with muddy water while at Kitulo National park. Most roads leading to National parks in Southern Highlands of Tanzania are impassable during rainy seasons.

A remote and seldom rarely visited national park such as Katavi in Rukwa region affords the modern day explorer an experience of untouched African wilderness. The valley grasslands supports impressive herds of buffalo, topi and zebra. The higher elevation and Miombo woodlands are homes to sable, roan and other antelopes.

Who told you tourists are only Europeans? Tourism is not meant for a particular group of people, I was lucky the other day to visit Ruaha National park, the largest in Tanzania and ranks the leading in Africa. Tanzania Tourist Board is trying to encourage local tourism so as to enable every Tanzanian to visit their national heritage by reducing entry fees for local people visiting national parks.

Lions and elephants are common, and waterways are homes of populations of hippos and crocs. Lakes Chada and Katavi host extra-ordinary concentrations of water birds and the Rukwa valley in the south of the park is home to Puku (an impala-sized antelope related to the waterbuck) and southern reedbuck as well as large numbers of other wildlife. Katavi has accessible road but most visitors fly in by private charter aircraft. A small classic tented camp provides the only suitable guest accommodation in the park.

Two lions rests close to the bank of river Ruaha as this is their target point to easy get hold of their prey once they come down to drink water.

The growth of tourism sub sector in Tanzania is encouraging going by the available data. The revenue collected in Tanzania from tourism business has increased, and the number of tourists, who visited Tanzania has increased from 501,669 in 2003 to 925,122 in 2008. During the trading period, big tourist hotels in Tanzania played the most crucial role in promoting the industry by providing accommodation to the visitors. The revenue collected from the tourism business also increased by far. The only part of tourism which enlisted a higher growth rate was cultural tourism, archives and antiquities. Tanzania’s National Assembly (Bunge) was recently told that the government had collected a total of Tsh. 61.2 billion during 2007/08 fiscal year as tourism revenues that were collected from the country’s national parks. This represents an overall increase of 6.1 percent from the previous fiscal year. According to the Minister for Tourism and Natural Resources, Ms. Shamsa Mwangunga, in 2006/07 the revenue collected from the national parks was Tsh. 58.3 billion from 557,370 tourists who visited them. According to her, this is a good improvement which has been brought about by the Ministry in its efforts to promote the country’s tourism in and outside the country. According to her, between last July and March 2009, Tanzania received 617,776 tourists in the country who visited various national parks. Because of the need of improved infrastructure, many tourists who had intended to visit the national parks in the country landed in Kenya and spent the majority of their time there before coming to Tanzania.

Udzungwa mountains, home of different animal species

UDZUNGWA National park is the largest and most bio-diversity of a chain of a dozen large forest-swathed mountains that rise majestically from the flat coastal scrub of eastern Tanzania. Known collectively as the eastern arc mountains located in Southern tourist circuit. The park covers an area of about 1,990 square kilometers and is centered on 30 41’ E and 70 48’ S in the Iringa and Morogoro regions of south central Tanzania. It is five hours drive (350 km/215 miles) from Dar es Salaam and 65 kms (40 miles) southwest of Mikumi. Located west of Dar es Salaam city, the Udzungwa Mountains rise up from the western edge of the Selous Game Reserve. Vervet monkeys play high in the forest canopy, and small forest antelope can be viewed at the right time of day. Botanical diversity is exceptional, and the park is host to a large number of endangered bird species.

A physical geographical outlook of Udzungwa mountains as it can be seen from the background.

Views from the peaks of the mountains, towards the Selous Game Reserve and the distant Indian Ocean coast, are incredible and well worth the effort. The Udzungwa Mountains offer visitors the opportunity to view several species of primates and endangered birds in a beautiful African rain forest. Five distinct trails cover the forests and mountain peaks within the park, and offer varying levels of difficulty for everyone from novices to experienced trekkers. With no roads entering Udzungwa National Park it is a paradise for hikers and backpackers alike. Numerous breath-taking day-hikes can be organized along with multiple day excursions into the dense rain forest or onto the high plateau. One beautiful trek is up to the Sanje River Waterfall, which plunges for 170 metres through the forest to the valley below. The view from the top is magnificent!

Sanje Mangabey (discovered in 1979), are typical monkey species which can be found at Udzubgwa Mountains park.

Udzungwa National Park supports a diverse, large mammal community including elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, African wild dog, eland, waterbuck and sable. Six species of primate are found here and two are endemic, the Iringa (Uhehe) Red Colobus monkey, and the Sanje Crested Mangabey, which was discovered in 1979. There is also a rich small bovid community including good numbers of Red, Blue and Abbots duikers, and bushbuck. Known collectively as the Eastern Arc Mountains, this archipelago of isolated massifs has also been dubbed the African Galapagos for its treasure-trove of endemic plants and animals, most familiarly the delicate African violet. The major attractions found there is biologically diverse plants, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, butterfly, and insects of which some of species are found nowhere else in the world. Udzungwa Mountains National Park is the only known National Park in Tanzania with a culturally important natural cave and has survived destruction before gazettement due to traditional taboos and beliefs. “Udzungwa” which is the name of the area is probably a linguistic corruption possibly by the Germans of the word “wadsungwa” one of the tribes living on the slopes of the Mountains. The park has Cultural and Historical sites such as Bokela (mountain God), Mwanaruvele cave, Magombereka cave, Nyumbanitu and Ndundulu mountains.

Red Collobus monkey species are also found at Udzungwa Mountains park.

Udzungwa Mountains National Park is one of Tanzania’s most outstanding, pristine, paradise and unique exciting wilderness mountains forested with greatest altitudinal range of forest. It is one of thirty-four “World Biodiversity Hotspot” and one of 200 WWF Eco-region of global critical importance. The park has high density of endemism species with some plants and animals that are only found in these mountains nowhere else in the world can be found hence center for endemism in the eastern arc mountains.
They have species concentrations of unique flora and fauna in the world, in addition it contains 30-40 percent of Tanzania plants and animals. Humidity in the air from the Indian Ocean is forced, by the sudden change of altitude, to precipitate as rain in the mountains. Since the prevailing wind comes from east, the mountain range constantly receives rain. Before ascending to Mwanahina peak, the second-highest point in the range Omithologists are attracted to Udzungwa for an avian wealth embracing more than 400 species from the lovely and readily located green headed oriole to more than a dozen secretive eastern arc endemics.

Water falls from the top of the mountains is a peculiar characteristics which can be viewed at Udzungwa mountains.

Four bird species are peculiar to Udzungwa including a forest partridge first discovered in 1991 and more closely related to an Asian genus than to any other African fowl. Undoubtedly, this great forest has yet to reveal all its treasures: ongoing scientific exploration will surely add to its diverse catalogue of endemics. The dry season occurs from June to October, when it is best to visit. During the rainy season from March to May visits are not recommended.

Tanzania: Karibu Travel and Tourism Fair Celebrates 10th Anniversary

TANZANIA's Karibu Travel and Tourism Fair, the largest travel industry event in East Africa, will celebrate its 10th Anniversary, June 5-7, 2009. The fair will be held just outside of Arusha city in, Tanzania's safari capital, and will attract travel industry partners from around the world. This is an annual event which is being organized by the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) with support from Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT). Other sponsors include Galileo Tanzania, Travel Africa Magazine, Gallery Tours and Wild Footprints Ltd. This year's theme of 'Sustainable Partnerships' is strongly represented by exhibitors from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. International visitors from USA, Europe, Asia and Australia as well as African countries have registered. According to organisers of the event, over 250 exhibitors and thousands of regional and international visitors are expected to attend the 2009 Fair, which is open to the trade on June 5th, and the public on June 6th - 7th.

Tanzania Tourist Board's Managing Director Mr. Peter Mwenguo (standing left) during one of the tourism exhibition fair.

Travel industry suppliers, large and small, including tour operators, tourist boards, hoteliers, and support service representatives and equipment manufacturers are typical attendees. International travel trade journalists regularly cover the event along with local media, and "familiarization trips" are being offered to encourage international travel agents to attend. Since America is Tanzania's number one source market for tourists, Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) is making a major effort to attract more travel agents from the US market, says Mr. Peter Mwenguo, TTB’s Managing Director "There are currently over 1000 qualified Tanzania Travel Agent Specialists in the US, and we hope to encourage them to participate by offering special pre and post safaris. This year, for the first time, Karibu is offering a pre-fair safari for agents to the Southern Circuit," Mr. Mwenguo was quoted as saying.

Discover rare species of Chimpanzee at Gombe National Park

EVERY region in Tanzania is a tourist potential, and can be rich in either of the following, National parks, beaches, mountains, lakes, rivers and many more which are unique. In western part of the country, Tanzania is rich in rare species of chimpanzees which are well known in tourism attractions all over the world. Tanzania’s western hinterland has got remote mountains and historical meeting points.
According to the information available in western part of Tanzania, Gombe stream is the world’s centre of study on Chimpanzee and the location of the longest-running wildlife observation program on the planet. Gombe Stream is among the 15 Tanzania's national parks, is a mountainous strip that borders the shores of lake Tanganyika, located about 16 km north of Kigoma town on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania. This is Tanzania’s smallest park covering just 52 sq km. How to get there is very easy, the only way to reach there is by boat from Kigoma town, local lake taxis take up to three hours to reach Gombe national park, or motor boats can be charted, taking less than one hour. Gombe is a world famous park for chimpanzee species. The park offers visitors the rare chance to observe the Chimpanzee communities made famous by the pioneering work of British explorer and a naturalist Dr. Jane Goodall who in 1960 founded a behavioral research program that now stands as the longest-running study of its kind in the world.

Dr. Jane Goodall with a Chimpanzee in its natural habitat at Gombe National park in Kigoma, western part of Tanzania.

Dr. Goodall started the chimpanzee study which is now in its sixth generation. Gombe stream permits an easy and comprehensive visit. Dr. Jane Goodall first traveled to Tanzania in 1960 at the age of 23 with no formal college training. At the time, it was accepted that humans were undoubtedly similar to chimpanzees who share over 98 percent of the same genetic code. However, little was known about chimpanzee behavior and community structure. Dr. Goodall lived at Gombe Stream almost full-time for fifteen years and the long-term data she accumulated is still of value to scientists today. In 1967, the Gombe Stream Research Center (GSRC) was established at Kakombe Valley in Kigoma District, Tanzania to coordinate ongoing chimpanzee research in the park. The area is located on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, 15 km north of the town of Kigoma and accessible only by boat. The park lies between the lake and a rift escarpment on its eastern side, some 3-4km inland. Elevation ranges from 775m above sea level at the lake to 1500m along the escarpment. Tourists visiting Gombe stream national park never miss an opportunity of meeting a couple of chimpanzees on their way. The area is a fragile strip of chimpanzee habitat straddling the steep slopes and river valleys that hem in the sandy northern shore of Lake Tanganyika. According to Dr. Jane Goodall’s research works, Chimpanzees share about 98 percent of their genes with humans, and no scientific expertise is required to distinguish between the individual repertoires of pants, hoots and screams that define the celebrities, the powerbrokers, and the supporting characters.

A Chimpanzee at Gombe National park in Kigoma.

Perhaps you will see a flicker of understanding when you look into a chimp's eyes, assessing you in return - a look of apparent recognition across the narrowest of species barriers. The most visible of Gombe’s other mammals are also primates. A troop of beachcomber olive baboons under study since the 1960s, is exceptionally habituated, while red-tailed and red colobus monkeys - the latter regularly hunted by chimps – stick to the forest canopy. The park’s 200-odd bird species range from the iconic fish eagle to the jewel-like Peter’s twin spots that hop tamely around the visitors’ centre. After dusk, a dazzling night sky is complemented by the lanterns of hundreds of small wooden boats, bobbing on the lake like a sprawling city. A number of monkey species can also be seen including red colobus, red tail and blue monkeys. The area is heavily forested making it an unsuitable habitat for carnivores and safe for walking safaris.

Jane Goodall’s Research Findings

Without collegiate training directing her research, Dr. Goodall observed things that strict scientific doctrines may have overlooked. Instead of numbering the chimpanzees she observed, she gave them names such as Fifi and David Greybeard, and observed them to have unique and individual personalities, and unconventional idea at the time. She found that, “it isn’t only human beings who have personality, who are capable of rational thought and emotions like joy and sorrow. She also observed behaviors such as hugs, kisses, pats on the back, and even tickling, what we consider identifiable human actions. Dr. Goodall insists that these gestures are evidence of “the close, supportive, affectionate bonds that develop between family members and other individuals within a community, which can persist throughout a life span of more than 50 years. These findings suggest similarities between humans and chimpanzees exist in more than genes alone, but can be seen in emotion, intelligence, and family and social relationships.
Dr. Goodall’s research at Gombe Stream is best known to the scientific community for challenging two long-standing beliefs of the day that only humans could construct and use tools, and that chimpanzees were passive vegetarians. While observing one chimpanzee feeding at a termite mound, she watched him repeatedly place stalks of grass into termite holes, then remove it from the hole covered with clinging termites, effectively “fishing” for termites. The chimps would also take twigs from trees and strip off the leaves to make the twig more effective, a form of object modification which is the rudimentary beginnings of tool making.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Selous Game Reserve, the largest in Tanzania and Africa as a whole

IN Southern Tanzania, there has been set aside the largest game reserve area known as “The Selous Game Reserve” which is the famous with the largest fauna reserves of the world representing over 5 percent of Tanzania's total land area. The Selous is the largest game reserve in Africa, with an enormous land covering an area of 55,000 square kilometers (21,081 square miles) This game reserve was named after an Englishman who was a soldier with the rank of a Captain, Sir Frederick Courtney Selous, a famous big game hunter and an early conservationist, who died in this territory in 1917 while fighting against the Germans during World War I. The area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 due to the diversity of its wildlife and undisturbed nature. The history of the area dates back in 1905 when it became a hunting reserve under the German colonial administration when few people in East Africa thought of land conservation and the preservation of wildlife for posterity and consequently portions of the area were earmarked for a hunting reserve.
Seventeen years later, four reserve areas were combined to establish what is today the ‘Selous Game Reserve’. The game sanctuary is one of the largest protected areas in the world and it runs in almost five regions of Tanzania which includes, Coast, Lindi, Mtwara, Morogoro and part of Ruvuma. For nearly thirty years Selous was a self-employed professional hunter across the great uncharted regions of Southern Africa. But he was also a naturalist and at the same time as killing a prodigious tally of game, he was also studying it and considering the future of its survival at a time when this kind of forward thinking had not really come into being.

A group of elephants in their grazing grounds at Selous game reserve park.

Being a British explorer and hunter in East Africa, he wrote a book about the region and his travels, and was tragically killed in land now named after him during the First World War. Nowadays it also has a touristic importance, though most of it is rarely visited by humans. Presence of the Tsetse fly and very difficult road access discourage visitation, however, it is easily accessible by small aircrafts from Dar es Salaam Today, Selous game reserve is the single largest game reserve of Africa probably in the world, the geographical features in this game reserve is that, it’s well fed by different tributaries and streams. These are the Rufiji River and its tributaries, the Great Ruaha river and Kilombero river. The Rufiji River empties out its waters into the Indian Ocean along the Tanzanian Coast. The vegetation in Selous game reserve varies remarkably, there are savannah grassland and deciduous Miombo woodland which dominates most of the reserve. It’s also covered by the dense thorn bushes and ground water forests as well as rocky outcrops. Selous game reserve contains the world’s largest concentrations of the typical animals of the savanna land who includes elephants, buffalo, crocodiles and hippopotamuses. Other animals are Leopards and African Wild Dog as well as lions can be found in this park in larger numbers than in any other African park.

A group of gazelles have a tendency of walking together and feeding closely in an open space for their security from predators.

Interesting places in the park include the muddy river Rufiji which is full of many marine creatures that includes fish eagle, skimmer, waders, herons, kingfisher and weavers. Antelopes, white bearded wilderbeest and giraffes are commonly seen north side of the river which flows into the Indian Ocean in front of the Mafia Island and the Stiegler, a canyon of 100 metres depth and 100 metres width. Around this canyon can be found most of the touristic facilities. Its rivers, hills, and plains are home to roaming elephant populations, the area is famous with wild dogs, and some of the last black rhino left in the region. Due to its remote location, and because it is most easily accessible only by small aircraft, the Selous Game Reserve has remained one of the untouched gems of Tanzania’s national parks and game reserves, and offers visitors a chance to see a wild and expansive Africa far from paved roads and curio shops.

Giraffes on their feeding habitat at Selous national park

In 1922, the land area was increased and named after Frederick Selous. From then until 1975, when the current boundaries were delineated, the Selous Game Reserve increased steadily in allocated land. These days, tourists flock to the north of the reserve, while large portions of the south are still reserved for hunting. The Rufii River is the largest water catchment locations in the region, and as such, is home to a plethora of varied water and bird life. Along its shores, oppulent hippos sleep languidly in the mud and sun themselves, mouths wide open, as the river passes by. Crocodiles are also common along the Rufiji’s riverbanks, their armour plated skins the only rough edges in the rivers incessant flow. Stiggler’s Gorge, where the Great Ruaha River meets the Rufiji River, is a breathtaking example of the diversity and spectacular scenery along the game reserve's waterways.

This is a wild dog specie that can be found at Selous game reserve park.

Zebra at the park

The Selous is unique among Tanzania’s more renowned preserved areas because it is a game reserve, not a national park, and therefore a larger range of activities are permitted. Boating safaris are becoming a popular alternative to vehicle-based trips, and offer visitors a chance to see the diverse life along the Rufiji River up close in all its splendour. Hiking safaris and fly camping are also ideal ways to explore the country and add a bit of adventure to your African experience. If you are looking for elephants, this is the place to find them, there is a large population of these giant mammals. The vast majority of Tanzania's elephant herd live in one remote stretch of safari wilderness the Selous Game Reserve. Other species commonly seen are lions, wild dogs, buffaloes, bushbucks, impalas, elands, baboons, zebras, ostrich and greater kudus. The Rufiji River system, the greatest in East Africa flows through the reserve and is home to countless hippos and crocodiles. Linked to the Rufiji is Lake Tagalla, where waterbucks, reedbucks, bushbucks and the rare sable antelope can be seen. Walking safaris, game drives and boat trips are organized. The Rufiji River provides excellent opportunities for sailing or rafting to view game. Fishing is allowed in the rivers of the Kilombero Game Controlled area to the west of the reserve, where tiger fish and catfish are plenty. Much of the reserve is available for hunting.

This is an ostrich, the only bird specie which mixes with other herbivorous animals while feeding on a vegetation. Its height is about 6ft high.

The wilderness of the Selous Game reserve park that shows an area with well conserved vegetation.

The Selous wildlife is all the more interesting because it attracts both East and Southern African wildlife, both resident and migratory, and over 440 known species of birds. The waterways of the Rufiji River Delta attract elephant herds, and are packed full of grunting hippopotami and yawning crocodile that lumber into the water at the first sound of a boat. The banks attract large herds of plains game depending on the season, dispersing after the rains and regrouping when the water sources concentrate. Selous scenery is widely varied, with unusually green grasses and tangles of vegetation.

Know the history of Swahili Language and its original culture

The Swahili language, is basically of Bantu (African) origin. It has borrowed words from other languages such as Arabic probably as a result of the Swahili people using the Quran written in Arabic for spiritual guidance as Muslims. The Islam practiced by Swahili peoples is often very strict. Most of the requirements of the religion are practiced by most of the people. The economic success of the Swahili throughout the coastal region has encouraged many of their inland neighbors to adopt Islam as well. As regards the formation of the Swahili culture and language, some scholars attribute these phenomena to the intercourse of African and Asiatic people on the coast of East Africa. The word "Swahili" was used by early Arab visitors to the coast and it means "the coast".
Ultimately it came to be applied to the people and the language. Regarding the history of the Swahili language, the older view linked to the colonial time asserts that the Swahili language originates from Arabs and Persians who moved to the East African coast.
Given the fact that only the vocabulary can be associated with these groups but the syntax or grammar of the language is Bantu, this argument has been almost forgotten. It is well known that any language that has to grow and expand its territories ought to absorb some vocabulary from other languages in its way. According to the earliest known document recounting the past situation on the East African coast written in the 2nd century AD in Greek language by anonymous author at Alexandria in Egypt called the Periplus of Erythrean, suggested that Swahili is an old language.
The document clarified that merchants visiting the East African coast at that time from Southern Arabia, used to speak with the natives in their local language and they intermarried with them. Those who suggested that Swahili is an old language pointed to this early source for the possible antiquity of the Swahili language. It is an undeniable truth that Arab and Persian cultures had greatest influence on the Swahili culture and the Swahili language. To demonstrate the contribution of each culture into the Swahili language, take an example of the numbers as they are spoken in Swahili. "moja" = one, "mbili" = two, "tatu" = three, "nne" = four, "tano" = five, "nane" = eight, "kumi" = ten, are all of Bantu origin. On the other hand there is "sita" = six, "saba" = seven and "tisa" = nine, that are borrowed from Arabic. The Swahili words, "chai" = tea, "achari" = pickle, "serikali" = government, "diwani" = councillor, "sheha" = village councilor, are some of the words borrowed from Persian bearing testimony to the older connections with Persian merchants. The Swahili language also absorbed words from the Portuguese who controlled the Swahili coastal towns (c. 1500-1700AD). Some of the words that the Swahili language absorbed from the Portuguese include "leso" (handkerchief), "meza" (table), "gereza" (prison), "pesa" ('peso', money), etc.
The Swahili bull-fighting, still popular on the Pemba island, is also a Portuguese legacy from that period. The Swahili language also borrowed some words from languages of the later colonial powers on the East African coast - English (British) and German.
Swahilized English words include "baiskeli" (bicycle), "basi" (bus), "penseli" (pencil), "mashine" (machine), "koti" (coat), etc. The Swahilized German words include "shule" for school and "hela" for a German coin. For centuries, Swahili remained as the language for the people of the East African coast.
Long-time interactions with other people bordering the Indian Ocean spread the Swahili language to distant places such as on the islands of Comoro and Madagascar and even far beyond to South Africa, Oman and United Arab Emirates. Trade and migration from the Swahili coast during the nineteenth-century helped spread the language to the interior of particularly Tanzania. It also reached Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Central African Republic, and Mozambique. Christian missionaries learnt Swahili as the language of communication to spread the Gospel in Eastern Africa. So, the missionaries also helped to spread the language. As a matter of fact the first Swahili-English dictionary was prepared by a missionary. During the colonial time, Swahili was used for communication with the local inhabitants. Hence the colonial administrators pioneered the effort of standardizing the Swahili language. Zanzibar was the epicenter of culture and commerce, therefore colonial administrators selected the dialect of the Zanzibar (Unguja) town as the standard Swahili. The Unguja dialect (Kiunguja) was then used for all formal communication such as in schools, in mass media (newspapers and radio), in books and other publications. Now Swahili is spoken in many countries of Eastern Africa. For Tanzania, deliberate efforts were made by the independent nation to promote the language (thanks to the efforts of the former head of state, Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere).
Tanzania's special relations with countries of southern Africa was the chief reason behind the spread of Swahili to Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, and other neighbouring countries to the south. Swahili is the national as well as the official language in Tanzania.
Almost all Tanzanians speak Swahili proficiently and are unified by it. In Kenya and Uganda, it is the national language, but official correspondence is still conducted in English. Thus, Swahili is the most widely spoken language of eastern Africa and many world institutions have responded to its diaspora.
It is one of the languages that feature in some world radio stations such as, the BBC, All India Radio, Radio Cairo (Egypt), the Voice of America (U.S.A.), Radio Deutschewelle (Germany), Radio Moscow International (Russia), Radio Japan International, Radio China International, Radio Sudan, and Radio South Africa.
The Swahili language is also making its presence in the art world - in songs, theatres, movies and television programs. For example, the lyrics for the song titled "Liberian girl" by Michael Jackson has Swahili phrases: "Nakupenda pia, nakutaka pia, mpenzi we!" (I love you, and I want you, my dear!). The well-celebrated Disney movie, "The Lion King" features several Swahili words, for example "simba" (lion), "rafiki" (friend), as the names of the characters. The Swahili phrase "hakuna matata" (No troubles or no problems) was also used in that movie. The promotion of the Swahili language is not only in its use but also deliberate efforts are made throughout the world to include it in education curriculum for higher institutions of learning. It is taught in many parts of the world.

Makonde woodcarvings symbolizes African traditional culture

AMONG the major representatives of Tanzanian figurative art are the Makonde people, who are renowned throughout East Africa for their original and often highly fanciful carvings. Authentic Makonde carvings are made from ebony wood. The Makonde are one of the five major tribes in Tanzania who originally migrated north from Mozambique to the southern Tanzanian highlands. They are internationally famous for their intricate carvings, based on Life, Love, Good and Evil and which form their beliefs about the origins of man. The Makonde people had a traditional tale that "In the beginning, there was a man, who lived alone in a wild place and was lonely. One day he took a piece of wood and shaped it with a tool into a figure. He placed the figure in the sun by his dwelling. Night fell and when the sun rose again the figure was a woman and she became his wife. They conceived and a child was born, but after three days it died. 'Let us move from the river to a higher place where the reed beds grow.' Said the wife. And this they did. Again she conceived and a child was born, but after three days it, too, died. Again the woman said 'Let us move to yet higher ground where the thick bush grows.' Once more they moved. A third time they conceived and a child was born. The child lived, and he was the first Makonde."
The carvings are possibly the greatest art forms which originate from Tanzania and are considered the most positive and uninhibited of all East African art. For centuries their figures carved from Mpingo or Ebony have played a central role in their ceremonies.
Today the carvings still maintain the traditional elements of the human story in a tribal setting although many of the carvers have inevitably been influenced by the Western demand for their products. It is easy to find what is classed as "Modern Makonde" which is aimed purely at the tourist market and is basically Modigliani in style.
Mpingo bark is a light color under which is a small layer of white soft wood. The heart wood, however, is very hard and varies in color from a deep red to black depending on the soil type and age of the tree.
When finished, the carvings are polished and the wood quite literally shines. Again, due mainly to the tourist trade, the carvers also use other types of wood such as coconut and some have also learnt to carve in stone and coral.
Makonde sculpture, old and modern, represents an artistic tradition which evolved in response to the historical and economic forces affecting the Makonde people throughout the twentieth century, especially after the 1930s.
It is a story which unfolds in reverse chronology from the contemporary internationally known modern Makonde sculpture to its historical and cultural antecedents about which less has been written or is known.
Makonde sculpture dates back in the year 1930s when the first exhibition was held at Centro Cultural dos Novos in Mozambique. However, it was in Tanzania, where many Mozambique Makonde ethnic group had emigrated in search for work, that interest in their sculpture as a commodity arose.

A typical Makonde sculpture of the original Makonde people who are fond of making tattoos on their faces (photo put side)

The Indian merchant Peera was instrumental in encouraging this development. Using the hard wood mpingo (Dalbergia Melanoxylon), Manguli Istiwawo, Pajume Allale, Roberto Jacobs, and others carved in what has become known as the "tree of life".
Modern Makonde art derives from the Makonde people living on the plateau south of the Ruvuma river in Mozambique (rather than from the Tanzanian Makonde). They migrated north into Tanzania and entered into the curio trade that began to emerge in the 1950s and 1960s in Dar es Salaam and Mtwara respectively.
During this time many Makonde farmers in northern Mozambique took up woodcarving to sell and supplement their incomes, this was encouraged by the FRELIMO liberation movement, which organized cooperative marketing of these carvings in Tanzania.
Their new sculptural forms grew naturally out of older traditions of woodcarving, unlike the Tanzanian Makonde, who had no real carving tradition. Modern Makonde sculptures range from curios of the airport variety to truly fine sculptures of imagination and artistry, but the reality of their production for commercial purposes is one that cannot be ignored.
Coote discusses the materials, techniques, styles and genres. In addition to traditional carving (especially masks with typical Makonde scarification), there are three identifiable modern styles, these are referred to as ‘binadamu, ujamaa, and shetani’.
The three correspond perfectly with the characteristics sought by Western art consumers of "erotic" art a move to naturalism, giganticism and grotesqueness. Shetani sculptures were once thought to be the invention of one man,
Of course, the modern Makonde woodcarving tradition goes back well before the war of liberation, but the war and its aftermath served as a genuine impetus. The style of the figures also changed, going from the earlier naturalistic rather benign figures to more distorted, satirical or somber depictions. The so-called ujamaa sculptures or in Portuguese "unidade de povo" date from the days of the liberation struggle. The "shetani" style originated with Samaki, but was quickly imitated and soon became a popular and successful commodity in the markets of Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. Following independence in Mozambique in 1975, official recognition on the part of the government has further encouraged this modern tradition of sculpture.
The shetani sculptures from Mozambique differed from those in Tanzania, the latter were more sexually explicit and grotesque, being solely for the foreign tourist market. The FRELIMO philosophy also mitigated or "tamed" the influence of the male masquerade mapico (mapiko), which came to be seen as essentially oppressive to women. The mapico was "liberated" and became a cultural symbol for Mozambique; it is danced on national days and has even appeared on a postage stamp. The Makonde are, of course, famous for the wood carvings which bear their name. The tradition has existed among them for at least three centuries, when examples were brought back by Arab traders. It is likely that the tradition is much older than that.
Originally naturalistic and impregnated with meaning, the carvings are now generally more abstract, in keeping with the tastes of tourists and collectors. The one thing the carvings have in common is that they are invariably carved from a single piece of wood, no matter how intricate the design. The wood traditionally used comes from the African Blackwood tree (Dalbergia Melanoxylon), also known as "Mozambique Ebony". It is extremely fine-grained and dark in colour, and so ideally-suited for carving.

The best-known works are the 'tree of life' carvings in the ujamaa style, being intricately carved conjunctions of interlocking human figures representing both unity and continuity. Less well-known are the ritual masks, which were used by dancers who embody the forms of spirits and ancestors. Earlier Makonde carvings generally depicted more traditional themes, often relating to various deities or rituals. Even today, the Makonde produce carvings of ordinary household objects such as bowls and walking sticks, although these are seldom seen for sale. While it can be argued that the extensive commercialization of Makonde carvings has had a negative impact on artistic and imaginative quality, it has not totally destroyed originality. On the positive side, it has had the effect of securing many carvers a livelihood which they would not have been able to achieve otherwise. The major centers of Makonde carving in Tanzania are in the south-east on the Makonde plateau, and in Dar es Salaam which became a haven for Makonde carvers during the large-scale migrations from Mozambique in the 1950s and 1960s. Many Makonde migrants made their way from Mozambique into southern Tanzania, and from there to the capital, attracted by better employment opportunities and by favorable marketing prospects for their carving.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sand stone pillars at Isimila gorge in Iringa, a wonderful historical site

TANZANIA is one of the unique destinations on the African continent that has yet to be discovered by many of its citizens who are still unaware of some attractive historical sites located in the country, probably this is due to the fact that tourist sites are far away from traditional media publicity. there are a lot to be explored in Southern Highland regions in terms of tourism for the historical and archaeological ventures in places like the Isimila stone age site where one can view wonderful stone pillars formed as a result of soil erosion on the land leaving the red standing pillars that occurred hundreds of years ago.

This is the Isimila Stone Age site which is located at the foot of a small hill believed to have cages where ancient people lived.

These are found in Isimila village not far away from Iringa town. As you travel along Iringa-Mbeya Road on your left hand side, it’s about 20 km. Its location is at the foot of a small hill believed to have had caves on which the ancient people lived. You could easily take a glimpse of a sign post by the road side that indicates the Stone Age site. Situated in an eroded valley, the site occupies a 33 hectares of land of what was once a lake bed. It is in this site whereby the amazing richest finds of Stone Age tools known as Acheulian type including the bones and skeletons of pre-historic animals were discovered in 1951.

A sign post showing the direction of the Isimila Stone Age site, it’s located about 20 Km away from Iringa town just at a junction point of the main road going to Mbeya.

It is nothing less than incredible physically to see the massive numbers of hand-cut stones collected in a small hut and the stone implements found in this site are those types which resembles stone tools used by ancient people during the early stone age period about 300,000 years ago. Historically, the main targets of the people who specifically engaged in preparing these stone age tools at that time was to cater for the need of their hunting expedition only. The site is currently administered by the Department of Antiquities of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.

Another sign post by the roadside leading to the site at Isimila village.

The Isimila Stone Age site is linked by a 1 km distance of a corrugated road locally constructed from the junction of the main road and passes through the village huts, you will come to the site’s office. A guide/caretaker lives nearby and a charge is made for a tour of the site at the small Museum. Showers, toilets, car park and a picnic shelter have been built within the site. An interesting extension to one’s visit is a walk up of the nearby gorge where there are several eroded cliffs standing like ‘Stone Pillars’ with columns tower overhead.

A site guide, Mr. Donatus Lihoha explaining a point to visiting Tumaini University of Iringa on how the ancient people made stone as implements used for their hunting expedition.

These are sometimes called earth pillars standing in arrays along a 2 km gorge. The height of each pillar is variable, ranging between 20 and 30 feet high from the basement of the eroded land. According to a geographical research work carried out in this site, down to the valley long time ago was a large swampy dam whereby animals used to visit to quench their thirst, but the dam dried up due to the geographical weather changes of the land. Before scholars came to research on smaller stone tools, local inhabitants who were living close to the area were the first to discover them and sent message to the colonial government which later brought archeologists to carry an excavation work.

This is a guide’s hut whereby all visitors have to sign before entering the main site to view stone implements as well as stone pillars at Isimila gorge or Korongo.

The site was discovered in 1951 by Mr. D.A.Maclennan of the St. Peters School in Johannesburg, South Africa who was on his way from Nairobi to Johannesburg. He collected some stone tools from the site and deposited them for the archeological survey. The first excavation work at the site was carried out by experts from Chicago University in USA. These were Dr. F. Clark Howell and his fellow Director Dr. Glan Colen. The work took place between July-November 1957. Both directors were accompanied by a Tanzanian scholar Mr. Mturi who by then represented Tanganyika’s government. Ten years later, they were followed by Dr. C.M.Keller and Dr. Carl Hansen both from Illon University in USA. During these two excavations, Dr. F.G.Haldeman and Dr. R.Pickening of geological survey in Dodoma also carried geological survey of the Isimila site.

It was a tiresome journey over the little hilly spot, and visitors had to navigate along the winding paths to get to Isimila gorge where are stone pillars.

This was the second excavation work which was done by these scholars when Tanganyika (Now Tanzania) had attained its independence, and also the late Professor Mturi of the archeological department of the University of Dar es Salaam represented the Tanzanian government in this expedition. The third excavation work at the site was carried out in 2003, this time by experts from the Republic of South Korea. The excavators stayed at the site for a couple of one month. The team had 14 people led by Dr. Kidon Bahe and Dr. Fidelis Thomas Massawe represented Tanzanian government.
According to one tour site guide, Mr. Donatus Lihoha, the fourth excavation on the site is scheduled to take place in September 2009. All tools excavated at the site in previous excavation work were found to be the same as those used by ancient people during the early Stone Age period almost 300,000 years ago. According to the research findings by scholars is that, it is believed that much of the area was at one time covered by a small lake created by a landslide that slipped into a valley west of the site. Not very deep, the lake measured roughly 1 km (half a mile). It was fed by a stream in the east and contained some sections of reeds and marsh. The fast moving water from the stream carried with it a slit together with gravel and sand. At the point where the stream met the lake, the flow of water was slowed to a halt and the sediment quickly fell to the bottom, eventually building up in mass. When the lake begun to dry up, a stream from the Kipolwi river in the west started to cut back towards the dried depression, creating the present gorge or ‘Korongo’ as it’s called in Swahili language, or dry watercourse as it cut through the surface deposits and lake beds. Though the stream is now almost completely dry, the years of erosion resulting from the seasonal passage have exposed the primitive tools which could now be seen at the site.

These are natural pillars, or sometimes known as stone or earth pillars standing in array along the 2 Km gorge known as Isimila gorge or Korongo. A wonderful site indeed. Students took most of their time to admire them.

These tools were given names by excavators according to their shapes that mostly looked like normal tools used by local ordinary hunters of today’s world. These are Axes, Knives, Scrappers and Spears. There were also stones prepared in oval shapes and these are said to have been used in sling shot to kill animals in their hunting expeditions. All these tools were made from hard rocks known as granite and according to their specific work designed for each tool, such as stone like knives had sharpened edge and these were used for cutting while scrappers were used for skinning, spears were used for killing animals. Stone age man is believed to have camped along the lake shore and the many streams, where he gathered water or hunted animals as they came to drink water. It’s here that he worked diligently, fashioning his tools proof of which is not only the multitude of tools found in the area, but also the blocks, cobbles and boulders that served as part of his production process. Also found are the flakes chipped off his tools in his pre-historic factory. The stone from which the tools were fashioned was mainly granite and quartzite. Many fossilized bones have also been found in the area, among them those of elephant and a mammal related to the modern day giraffe, but having a shorter neck. Tools found at Isimila Stone Age site are believed to have been existed thousands of years ago and the proof of this was done on the excavated Hippopotamus bones plus the human skeletons found at the site and taken for test by carbon 14 test which ultimately gave the results of their long life span.

Visitors admiring a handful of stone implements made by ancient man which have been preserved in a hut at Isimila Stone Age site.

Since the first excavation work in 1957, Isimila site was declared a national historical site under the then Ministry of Culture and Education of the colonial government before it was transferred to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism in 1999, 38 years after the country attained its independence. At the site there are existed two huts built since 1957 on which a handful of the stone tools were collected and preserved up to today. There is also another hut built at the bank of the valley on the other side, this was also built in the same year for the same purpose. Since the year 2007, the site has undergone major improvements by opening up a site museum and an information centre. The museum represents human development activities in the area from as early as Acheulian period to the present. Visits to the Stone Age site and the natural pillars are best undertaken during the early morning and late evening hours as there is a tiresome walking distance involved through a couple of semi steep slopes which requires slow navigation.

Mary Mbwana, a journalist taking a photo of the Information centre at Isimila Stone Age site.

The area has become one of the most tourist sites in the country attracting over 25,000 visitors per year, both local and foreign tourists. According to a tour guide Mr. Lihoha, great number of foreign tourists comes from the USA, UK and German. According to him, foreigners pays Tshs. 3,000/- per person while an ordinary Tanzanian who is not a student pays Tshs. 1,000/-. Students from higher learning institutions pays Tsh. 500/- while students from secondary schools and pupils from primary schools pays Tsh 200/- each. The Isimila site museum therefore present ethnographic, historical and archeological material from the Southern Highlands region of Tanzania purposely to highlight people’s ingenuity as manifested by material culture showing technological continuity and innovations.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Iringa: The historic town with many places of interest to visit

I would like to inform readers of this blog that, I have moved temporarily to Iringa town about 502 km away from the city of Dar es Salaam where I am based doing my activities. I am currently in Iringa region in an important mission doing some research works on tourism. I was lucky to have visited the most important attractive historical sites which are found within the region. Just to highlight a bit of m6y research work in this region, let me give you this piece of information as I am preparing other news for you to be posted later. I am stationed in Iringa town which has a long history since pre-colonial time of German rule in 1889 and there is a lot to tell since that time up to the present indeed. Iringa is a developing town located in Southern Highlands region of Tanzania with a population of over 200,000 inhabitants. The name ‘Iringa’is derived from the Hehe word ‘lilinga’, meaning the fort. Hehe, or ‘Wahehe’ in Swahili word is the main ethnic group of Iringa town and its neighboring villages. The tribe is so-called because of their battle cry-he-he-heee. Geographically, the town is situated at a latitude of 7.77°S and longitude of 35.69°E. It’s the administrative capital of Iringa region, one of the four regions of Southern Highland of Tanzania. Other three regions within the zone are Mbeya, Rukwa and Ruvuma regions. Economically the inhabitants of Iringa region are mostly farmers who engage in agricultural production of various types of food, the land is very fertile and receives rains throughout the year. Likewise, the region has many established industries, including manufacturing and food processing. The region is bordered by Singida and Dodoma Regions in the North, Morogoro Region to the East, Ruvuma Region and Lake Nyasa to the South and Mbeya Region to the West. Iringa is a pleasant small town being the third largest town in Southern Highland region of Tanzania after Morogoro and Mbeya and is situated on a plateau that ranges from 1,500metres to 2,500 metres (5.365 feet) above sea level.

A street in the town centre of Iringa

Its streets are quiet and peaceful, and the market offers a colourful scene of traditional African culture. Iringa overlooks the Little Ruaha River and has become a hub of tourism business for being a popular stopping point for visitors to Ruaha National Park. The town is situated parallel with the Tanzam highway, linked to the main road from the biggest Tanzania’s commercial city, Dar es Salaam and Lusaka the capital city of the Republic of Zambia. The highway distance from Iringa to Dar es Salaam city is 502 kilometers (312 miles). Climatically, Iringa is an interesting and attractive town with a colorful and lively market whereby locally produced baskets and rugs can be purchased. The old Iringa market building is the oldest which was constructed during the German rule in the country. It’s believed to have been the first to be built by the Germans during their time of rule in the then German East Africa colony which later came to be known as Tanganyika (Now Tanzania). The area around Iringa is fertile and is an important agricultural region. The climate is agreeable with a given altitude, in fact it can be quite cool in the evenings, especially in June, July and August. During these seasons of the year, guests are advised to pick up with themselves pullovers, cardigan or sweatshirts as the temperature nears the freezing point.

Iringa town is coming up with the construction of storey buildings as seen from the background. The trown will be hosting national celebrations on World Tourism Day later in September this year.

Iringa region has six districts that includes Iringa Rural, Ludewa, Mufindi, Njombe, Kilolo and Makete. It became a municipal on 1 July 1988. As all other towns wishes aspiring to be municipals, Iringa met various criteria such as a minimum population, capability to fund its services to residents and a communication network to allow movement of goods, people and vehicles. The municipal stretches along a hilltop overlooking the great Ruaha River to the south, and spreads along ridges and valleys to the north. Iringa municipal significant geological features include numerous steep, rocky hills that punctuate the landscape and the little Ruaha River that runs through the municipality which covers an area of 162 square kilometers.

A portion of the little Ruaha river that forms a boundary between Iringa town and Ipogolo township as seen on the foot of a nearby hill. The scenery provides an attractive outlook.

The municipality has one division, 14 wards and 162 mitaas with their sizes that varies significantly. The Ward Development Committees (WDC) administers wards. WDCs comprises the Ward Executive Officer (WEO) and leaders of a particular segmented areas of jurisdiction within the ward popularly known as ‘Ten cell leaders’. The 14 wards are Kihesa, Mkwawa, Mwangata, Kitwiru, Ruaha, Mtwivila, Ilala, Makorongoni, Mivinjeni, Kitanzini, Mshindo, Gangilonga, Kwakilosa and Mlandege. Iringa is a minor transport hub, with regular bus service and trucking to some other important towns and cities in the country such as Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Mbeya and Songea and most of its electricity power supply comes from the nearby Mtera Dam. Iringa has a long history for being among the few old towns in the country which was built during the 1890s by the Germany Army occupation as a defensive base to be used against marauding Hehe tribal warriors who intended to drive them out of the region. The Hehe uprising which occurred few years later was led by Chief Mkwawa. The fortress and headquarters of Chief Mkwawa was situated in the nearby village of Kalenga 12 km from the town. The Hehe tribe under the strong leadership of Chief Mkwawa put off stiff resistance to the Germans in the late 19th century.

A huge stone of Gangilonga seen from one of the hills from east direction of Iringa municipal town. A spectacular view of Iringa town can be viewed from its top.

Gangilonga Rock (The talking stone, a description in Hehe tribe), a site just outside of the town, is a legendary spot where the Hehe Chief at that time, met with senior Hehe tribesmen to mediate on how to fight the Germans. Today, the rock provides an excellent views of the town and the surrounding countryside. Historically, Iringa was also the site of several battles during the first and second world wars, and commonwealth war graves are located just at the town centre. The Germans who were the colonial powers up to the end of the first world war, realized the strategic importance of the town and as a result there are few old colonial buildings they had left. There are some of the original colonial buildings which can be seen in the town strongly built in stone, among them is the Court House and the District Commissioner’s Office. A mix of faded Bavarian and vibrant African architecture distinguish Iringa town from most Tanzanian towns since the place has a rich history in southern region of Tanzania. It was near here that in 1894, The Hehe’s Chief Mkwawa built a 8 km long and 12 meter high stockade in an attempt to fight off the advance of German colonization. The German suffered a humiliating defeat despite of the poorly armed Hehe soldiers who depended on spears and other fiercely traditional weapons and few rifles which they had, but still they ambushed a German battalion.

Commonwealth graves of the first and second world wars at the centre of Iringa town.

Since the Germans had more sophisticated weapons that spears, bows and arrows the Hehe soldiers had, were no match for the guns the German troops had, they managed to attack the Hehe fortress at Kalenga in October 1894 and Chief Mkwawa successfully managed to escape and engaged in the German forces in guerrilla warfare for a number of years before he committed suicide. In 1898, after nine years of harassing the Germans in a series of guerrilla skirmishes, Mkwawa was cornered by the German troops, and on realizing that he was about to be arrested, he committed suicide rather than being caught red handed by the colonial German troops. As the German troops advanced, they found him dead and cut off his head which was sent to Germany, and repatriated back to the then Tanganyikan territory in 1954 during British colonialism. Mkwawa’s skull now forms one of the main (somewhat grisly) exhibits in the Mkwawa Memorial Museum at nearby Kalenga village.

Mkwawa’s memorial museum building at Kalenga village.

Since Iringa town has become a tourist hub for Southern Highlands regions of Tanzania, it has developed to look more like a tourist destination centre with more business incentives ranging from low to high class hotels and restaurants. The recommended hotels and lodgings in Iringa town include the MR Hotel, Hilltop Hotel, Lutheran lodge centre and New Ruaha International guest house to mention a few. These are located within the town. Iringa has a number of historical places to visit such as the Ismila Stone Age site, Kikongoma, Tosamaganga, Kalenga, Mlambalasi, Lungemba and Mbweni and Lugalo monuments. These are mandatory. There are also two monuments located within the town to commemorate soldiers who fought first world war and the Maji maji wars of 1905 to 1909 and 1914 to 1918 respectively. Further a field, one can arrange a day’s visit to the Mufindi tea plantation.

A monuments carrying the names of soldiers who died during Maji Maji war times of between 1905-1907. This is built in Iringa town near police station.

Besides the astonishing free-standing natural rock pillars formed by millions of years of weathering, this is one of Africa’s most important sites for exploring the relics of the Acheulean Age (about 300,000 years ago) and the site is littered with hand axes, hammers, cleavers and stone picks. This is the Isimila Stone Age site which lies about 20 km (12 miles) to the southwest, contains archeological artifacts, particularly stone tools, from human habitation many years ago. The town of Iringa is a fertile area with lots of vegetables, fruits, and tobacco. The famous food factory DABAGA is found there.
Other places worth for visiting is Neema crafts centre for the disabled with an excellent cafe and tours of their workshops available. In Iringa town tourists can get Tour and Safari companies that provide vehicles to hire for the journey to their various national parks like Ruaha, Kitulo, Katavi and Udzungwa mountains National parks.

These are natural stone pillars formed as a result of soil erosion long time ago, about 300,000 years ago, these natural wonders are features which can be seen at Isimila Stone Age site 20 Km away from Iringa town.

Iringa is a charming and has developed over the years into a pleasant town. During the colonial era, it was the centre for both the German and British settlers who took up land and started farming in the Dagaba. Iringa is at the heart of Tanzania’s tea industry. Sao-Hill and Mufindi areas are well-known places for growing tea, pyrethrum, wheat, maize, vegetables, fruits and tobacco. Most of this so-called alienated land was settled between the two world wars. Educationally, Iringa is more advanced and one can find three institutions for higher education, these are Tumaini University, Mkwawa University College of Education and Ruaha University College and the Regional centre of Open University of Tanzania. Iringa municipality has two FM radio stations and one TV station. The radios are Ebony FM, a youth entertainment and commercial radio, and Country FM. There are other radio stations elsewhere in Iringa region, such as Kitulo community radio in Makete and another FM radio station in Njombe.