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Bagamoyo Bay

Heading north along the coast road Bagamoyo is a seventy minute drive from Dar es Salaam. Bagamoyo is a charming village steeped in a rather bloody history. Most of the great explores, including Livingston used this port, also the slave traders used Bagamoyo as a slave trading post and from here the slaves were shipped to Zanzibar to be sold.

The small bay has lovely white sand beaches, fringed by swaying palms. Technology and the industrial revelation have has little impact on this small community. Fishermen to this day brave the waters off the coast in hand-built wooden dhows of ancient Arabian design spreading their crescent moon shaped sails to catch the prevailing trade winds, they share the waters with tiny dugout canoes that bob uncertainly in the water. The village itself is charming albeit a little dilapidated.

Bagamoyo was named by the slaves, as they left broken and worrying about their families they had left behind – the name means ‘lay down your heart’ in Swahili. Although the slave trade officially ended in 1873, slaves continued to be sold and traded in Bagamoyo through the end of the nineteenth century.

The Kaole Ruins are a few kilometers south of Bagamoyo and they date back to the thirteenth century. The ruins are of two mosques and several tombs, and this site claims to be home to the first mosques in east Africa. This site is interesting as the buildings were all constructed using coral stones and there is a small museum here.

The Roman Catholic Mission is a picturesque mission, and again is said to be the oldest Roman Catholic Church in East and Central Africa and dates back to 1868. In 1874, Dr. Livingstone’s body stayed at the Catholic mission before being sent to England for burial. In the 1800s - revolutionary, Christian missionaries established a ‘Freedom Village’ at the mission to protect freed slaves and by putting their lives in danger these brave people were instrumental in stopping the slave trade.

Chuo cha Sanaa is a great place to visit. Students come here from all over the world to learn traditional Tanzanian drumming, sculpture, carving and painting. It is possible to hear an African drumming performance at the college, but much more fun is to enroll for a class and become involved with African art, carving and drumming – something to impress your friends with when you return home.

The official residence of the colonial governor was the German Boma. During German colonial rule, Bagamoyo was the capital of Tanzania. Although you cannot enter the building, you can walk around the outside – which isn’t as interesting as it sounds.

Other historical, if somewhat gruesome, sites include the German Hanging Place, the site where the German colonial government hanged Africans who rebelled against the German colonial government in the late 1800s. A site to interest all mothers is the tongue twisting Mwanamakuka Cemetery's with the oldest tomb dated 1793. Many colonial soldiers who were casualties in the Maji Maji Rebellion are buried in the German Cemetery.

From Bagamoyo it is possible to take boat trips to the Ruvu River Delta. From the boat you will see several species of mangroves and water birds. Hippos also swim in the Ruvu water and you'll catch glimpses of them along the shore and in the water.

Most hotels will arrange for dhow trips sandbars [make sure your medical insurance is up to date] to offshore. On the sandbar you will have several hours to relax or snorkel the surrounding reefs.

The hotels here are charming. Bagamoyo is the place to visit is you have a day or two spare and need to get away from Dar es Salaam.

Submitted by:

Ian Williamson

For further information on Zanzibar and Tanzania see http://betheladventure.co.uk using tourism to fund community initiatives focused on the education of the young and the medical care for the whole family. Ensure your safari is using profits to help the community.




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