We sailed into the port of Dar es Salaam this morning and went on an excursion to historic Bagamoyo. This coastal village has a rich history and culture. It is the closest point by sea from Zanzibar, so many of the early explorers like Livingstone and Stanley traveled from Bagamoyo to outfit their adventures. It was also the last glimpse of then Tanganika that many people had before being bundled off to Zanzibar to be sold on the slave market.
Our guide, Mr. Smart, said that the meaning of the word Bagamoyo is “Here I lay down the burden of my heart.” Over 20 million slaves were imprisoned here and then sent to be sold. The village was a most important port in the 18th century and was the capital of German East Africa. It was also once the national capital, before it was moved to Dar es Salaam which has a much deeper port. The central area is called Stone Town because of the old stone colonial buildings. After the capital moved, it fell into disrepair and has not really ever recovered.
We again had a police escort and this time, it worked well! We went through traffic lights, passed on the wrong side of the road and generally made good time to the village which was about 90 minutes trip from Dar es Salaam. And, by the way, the traffic jam of all those trucks we were part of in Kenya is still there, 3 days later, according to the BBC – which we get on our room TV.
Our first stop was the Kaole Ruins. The ruins date back to the 13th century and consist of 2 mosques and 30 tombs. The older of the mosques is thought to date to the 3rd or 4th century, making it the oldest mosque on the mainland of East Africa. The tombs were built of coral stones with stone pillars. Traditions claim that some of the tombs are the graves of local rulers who were known as the diwanis.
The country seems to be more developed than Kenya, although there are still a number of mud houses in the outskirts of the city and the villages. Many people build their homes in stages as they save up the money so you see concrete blocks and unfinished houses.
We also visited the Old Fort, where many German troops lived during the colonial uprising in 1888.
We then made a lunch and beach stop at the Paradise Beach Resort, where we were also entertained by some very energetic local folk dancers. The beach was beautiful and we saw a number of traditional ancient Arabic sailing boats, called dhows.
After relaxing at the beach, we went to the German Church and the Holy Ghost Mission as well as the Catholic Museum. The road leading there is called Mango Road because of the rows of mango trees lining both sides of the road.
David Livingstone’s body was in this tower for 24 hours before it was taken to London for burial. The museum was really interesting, could have spent more time there.
We passed several schools, one was built by the Cuban government. We have seen lots of examples of countries that have had aid from other countries to help build their infrastructure or preserve historic sites. Some partnerships seem strange, but we are encouraged that this is happening. Here, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is providing millions to help eradicate malaria.
Our escort really worked on a fairly fast return to the ship, only an hour late – but I see now that this is “Africa time”. John and Tina Freedman told us that while they were in Uganda, they waited almost 2 hours for a concert to start, A woman then came to the stage and said “ladies and gentlemen, something soon may be happening”.
All in all, a very nice day. And to top it off, there was fresh fish grilled on the Terrace deck tonight, tuna, white snapper and red snapper. Wonderful!