Dar es Salaam and history

Sunday 9 to Tuesday 11 October

We took the fast ferry from Zanzibar to Dar Es Salaam. The ferry was full and four services run each day.

Dar Es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania and was the capital city of Tanzania until recently when government was moved to the new inland city of Dodoma.

It is a busy city, people always seemed to be on the move.

Our short stay there was concentrated on seeing the National Museum of Tanzania. I was interested in understanding more of the country’s troubled colonial past but also of learning more about the prehistoric finds around the north east of the country.

Our safari was to take us through the Olduvai Gorge where ancient remains have been found identifying our very early ancestors’ development, but Mr Otieno’s rearrangement of our itinerary didn’t take this visit into account.

We did however visit the Ngorongoro Crater where discoveries were made by the British archaeological team of Louis and Mary Leakey. Most notable are the Laetoli footprints discovered by Mary Leakey in 1976, thought to be between 3.9 and 2.9 million years old and argued to be the first evidence of early bi-pedal homin.

There was a small but interesting display showing the recent timeline of Tanganika and Zanzibar that were finally united as a single country in 1964 to become the republic of Tanzania.

The Muslims ruled from the eleventh century, trading minerals and spices as part of the monsoonal trade winds of the Indian Ocean. When you consider the routes taken by traders on their dhows, it is amazing that the Australian mainland was not further investigated. You can only assume that enough wealth was derived from trading between China, Indonesia, the Indian sub-continent, the Arabians and the east coast of Africa. This was also a period when the Silk Route between Eastern Asia and Europe was at its height.

Towards the end of the 15th century the Portuguese rounded the Cape of Good Hope and explored the east coast of Africa. At that time the country was known as Kilwa. The Portuguese were impressed by the richness of clothing of the upper class of cotton (from India) and silk (from China) and jewellery of gold and silver. In 1505 the Portuguese captured Zanzibar and remained in control until the early 18th century. During this time they enhanced trade with Western Europe and Africa.

The Arabs from Oman regained control in the 18th century. Their primary trade was in the slave market and cloves. With a good enough climate and forced labour they established many spice farms, importing plants from all over the known world.

The Germans took control in 1880 when the country was known as German East Africa.

Under the League of Nations it became a British mandate in 1919 and served as a military outpost during World War II.

In 1947 Tanganika became a United Nations Trust Territory under British administration, until it declared independence in 1961 and was merged with Zanzibar to become Tanzania in the same decade.

Great accolades were given to the first prime minister Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere. In Tanzania he is regarded at the Father of the Nation, however it appears that the rest of the world could not agree.

What surprised me was the close allegiance he had with Mao Tse Tung and China from 1965 and with North Korea and Cuba. Sadly it appears he left his country in much the same state as those, said to be the poorest and most corrupt in Africa when he resigned in 1985.

There was a small memorial to the victims of the USA embassy on 7 August 1998 where 12 visitors were killed. This coincided with a bombing in Nairobi, Kenya where 291 people died.

This was our last day in Central Africa with a long day of flights planned to Namibia the next day.

Much information on this page has been taken from Wikipedia.