Kilwa Kisiwani is a community on an island off the coast of East Africa, in present day Tanzania. In the 4th century it was sold to a trader Ali bin Al-Hasan, and over the following centuries it grew to be a major islamic city and trading centre along that coast, and inland as far as Zimbabwe. Trade was mainly in gold and iron from Zimbabwe, ivory from Tanzania, and textiles, jewelry, porcelain, and spices from Asia. It is believed that the ruler was on of the grandson of Athman bin Khatwaab the third khaliphate to the prophet Muhammed. Therefore it was part of the Othoman Empire states.
By the 12th century, under the rule of the Mahdali, Kilwa had become the most powerful city on the East African coast, and its influence stretched as far south as Mozambique. Abu Abdullah Ibn Battuta recorded his visit to the city around 1330, and commented favorably on the humility and religion of its ruler, Sultan al-Hasan ibn Sulaiman. From this period date the construction of the Palace of Husuni Kubwa and a significant extension to the Great Mosque of Kilwa.
In the early 16th century, Vasco da Gama extorted tribute from the wealthy Islamic state, but not soon after, another Portuguese force took control of the island (1505), and it remained in Portuguese hands until 1512, when Muslim again recaptured Kilwa. The city regained its earlier prosperity; Kilwa remains with its islamic rule for another 400 years while in 1784 it came under the rule of the islamic ruler of Zanzibar. The city started loosing its prospeity due to the conquest of Portegese, French and German who finally become part of the colony of German East Africa from 1886 to 1918.
Serious archeological investigation began in the 1950s. In 1981 it was declared a World Heritage Site, and noted visitor sites are the Great Mosque, the Mkutini Palace and some remarkable ruins.
Inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger: 2004. There is a serious rapid deterioration of the archaeological and monumental heritage of these two islands due to various agents like erosion and vegetation. The eastern section of the Palace of Husuni Kubwa is progressively disappearing. The damage to the soil caused by rainwater wash is accentuating the risks of collapse of the remaining structures on the edge of the cliff. The vegetation that proliferates on the cliff has limited the progression of the rain-wash effect, but causes the break-up of the masonry structures. The World Monuments Fund included Kilwa on its 2008 Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites because of the threat of climate change to the site.
Stone Town or Mji Mkongwe, in Swahili meaning “ancient town”, is the old part of Zanzibar City (or Unguja Mjini) – the capital of the island of Unguja, informally known as Zanzibar, a part of Tanzania.
The old town is built on a triangular peninsula of land on the western coast of the island. The oldest part of the town consists of a warren of narrow alleys to houses, shops, bazaars, and mosques. Cars are often too wide to drive down many of the maze of winding streets.
Its islamic architecture incorporates elements of Arab, Persian, Indian, European and African styles. The Muslim Arab houses are particularly notable because they have large and ornately carved wooden doors and other unusual features such as enclosed wooden verandas. The site has probably been occupied for around three centuries with buildings only being constructed with stone since the 1830s.
Two large buildings dominate the main front of Stone Town. One is Beit-El-Ajaib or the House of Wonders, which was built by Sultan Seyyid Barghash as a grand palace for ceremonial purposes. The other is the Arab Fort which stands on the site of a former Portuguese settlement and was converted to a fort during the 18th Century.
For centuries the town was the centre islamic civilisation which includes education and trade on the East African coast between Asia and Africa before the colonization of the mainland in the late 1800s after which the focus moved to Mombasa and Dar es Salaam. From 1840 to 1856, Said bin Sultan had the capital of the Omani Empire in Stone Town. The main export was spices and particularly cloves. For many years Stone Town was a major centre for the slave trade; Slaves were obtained from mainland Africa and traded with the Middle East. The Anglican Cathedral is built on the site of a former slave market. Some of the holding cells still exist.
The town also became a base for many European explorers, particularly the Portuguese, and colonizers from the late 1800s. David Livingstone used Stone Town as his base for preparing for his final expedition in 1866. A house, now bearing his name, was lent by Sultan Seyyid Said. Immigrant communities from Oman, Persia and India lived here. These were often engaged in trade or, in the case of the Omanis, were rulers of the island and its dependent territories.
Stone Town has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
It is impossible to forget Bagamoyo once you have been there. Its atmosphere, present situation, and history are all of a special kind.
Even though the town has an eventful past, you sometimes get the impression of being in a place where time has stood still. We have read about the prospective improvement of the road from Dar es Salaam in most of the works on Bagamoyo, regardless on how old they are. It has not yet been realized and the story is the same concerning the railway.
On the other hand, we have also read about the active people in Bagamoyo who mended it after uprisings and natural disasters. How come this does not happen today?
We hope to provide those that have never visited Bagamoyo with a context and background to this extraordinary town.
Introducing Bagamoyo is divided into three parts. In Bagamoyo in our hearts, we try to describe our own experiences of the town. Many visitors get engaged in the town’s future and we are definitely among those. When travelling in other parts of Tanzania, we understood how special and unique a town Bagamoyo really is.
In Bagamoyo today, some facts and figures describing Tanzania and Bagamoyo are presented.
A historical background describes the town’s past, which includes times of wealth and prosperity as well as brutal accounts of the slave trade. Many people probably think the best would be to sweep the tragic parts of history under the carpet. We say history is part of present and future society. It can not be forgotten, and much less undone.
Although the streets in the stone town of Bagamoyo seem deserted, people keep an eye on whoever passes and whatever happens. Sitting in town sketching, we became well known in the heart of Bagamoyo and our names were often called from the dark insides of the houses.
Along the streets of the town people stop for a while if they meet someone they know. They sit down for some time and it seems as there is always time to stop and be friendly.
There are no streetlights in Bagamoyo, the night sets in quickly and at seven it is completely dark. During nighttime the climate becomes agreeable and people stay outdoors talking.
Women in Bagamoyo use colourful umbrellas to protect themselves from both rain and shine. The sea breeze offers a welcome relief from the heat and some of it finds its way through the open doors and windows of the houses.
The rains start coming more often around Easter time. Rainfalls in Bagamoyo are like massive curtains of water and it is easy to get caught by a shower. When trying to make the way back home without getting wet, people run back and forward across the street avoiding the puddles. Most often, they give up and instead stand tightly pressed against a wall watching the water coming from the rafter feet, hitting the ground inches away from their feet.
When visiting the area outside of the stone town, the change from stone houses to African houses is gradual and many of the African houses are quite large. Fences made of palm leaves hide the gardens and create a streetscape. The streets are confusingly similar and it is difficult to separate one from the other.
The history of Tanzania ( Tanganyika and Zanzibar) is characterized by peaceful coexistence of Africans native and Arabs traders through out centuries while intermarriages which led the Swahili culture to prosper around the coast to interior as far as west of Tanzania – Ujiji to Congo and Burundi. The mostly peaceful coexistence history were shuttered by the emergence of Europeans colonilisation move which emerged from the coming of Europeans as Christian missionaries and explorers like Carl Peters, Livingstone, Stanley, Speke, Rebmans, etc. As a result this led into 1884 Berlin conference for partition of Africa by Europeans in which Tanganyika experienced massive resistance from local people.
There are several historical features and areas around the country especially where various local resistance occurred in defend of their country in the wake of colonilisation since 1880. Leave alone the famous Maji Maji resistance movements which took German 8 years to suppress after various losses. There were several battles while others declared as Jihad includes great worriers like Sulayman Mamba (Kinjikitile ) who declared Jihad from Lindi to Kisarawe , Mkwawa defeated Germans twice, Bushiri declared Jihad from in Pangani to Bagamoyo while Mangi Sina Mandara wage a war in Moshi and Mirambo in Tabora. Later they were all hanged by Germans except Mkwawa who refuse to surrender and killed himself.
You may visits areas where the battle took place and where these great people brutally were hanged and buried including, Sulayman Mamba – Kisarawe, Mkwawa Lugalo – Iringa, also visit Moshi and Pangani to see the trees where Mangi Sina and Bushiri respectively were hanged.