From the Swahili Coast to the lands of the Hehe

 
 
 

Traditional fishing boats

 

The coast between Tanga and Dar es Salaam really is a wonderful place.

 

1,5 kgs of fresh crayfish directly from the local fisherman ... gorgeous!

 

You can indulge in fresh seafood, relax at the beach and swim in an ocean which has nearly bath tub temperature ... That's why we spent more time there than we had actually planned beforehand.

But also the places we stayed at were simply great.

 

The view from our camp at "Peponi Beach".

 
 

Our camp as seen from the beach.

 

Beach impression

Beach impression

 

An interesting procession ...

 

... majestic!

One of our favourite campsites in Africa so far definitely is "Peponi Beach" in Pangani just south of Tanga. This place is so very relaxed, the owner and staff are extremely friendly and helpful and you can camp directly behind the beach ... we spent nine days - and still were very sad that we had to leave!

Cheaky Sóley!

Anouk wants this sea shell ... but the hermit crab doesn't want to let go!

For Bagamoyo, we tried to put down our impressions in a more poetical way because we felt that only that way of putting it can really transmit the atmosphere in this town (here you can read our post on Bagamoyo).

 

The "Firefly" in Bagamoyo

 

Mischa's office ... any questions!?

A good place to stay at in Bagamoyo is the just recently opened "Firefly", an old German house beautifully restored with nice rooms, a pool and small restaurant. The camping facilities between the house and the beach are still under construction ... it will surely become a great place when everything is finished.

Going on to Dar Es Salaam, we were caught in the traffic jams for many hours ... Mischa would rather again drive through Cairo, Khartoum or Nairobi instead of ever driving here again. What a Moloch of a city!

"A fairy fortress it is!", they told me!

The pool at "Mikadi Beach", a very important place for Anouk ans Sóley

"Mikadi Beach" might be one of the very few places where overlanders can enjoy a relatively relaxed stay near Dar. The place also is frequented by the big overland trucks, so sometimes it can be a bit noisy and touristy.

 

I think ladies driving a Landy are more than sexy!

 

Driving from Dar to the south-western part of Tanzania is relatively easy and the road conditions are OK.

 

Majestic!

 

On our way to Iringa, we drove through the Mikumi National Park and, as we were just transiting the park right before and during sunset, we saw a multitude of animals just next to the road.

We stayed for one night at the "Tan-Swiss Lodge", a place where it is possible to eat both traditionally Tanzanian and Swiss food ...

Just a few kilometres before reaching Iringa, we turned left into "Rivervalley Campsite". As the campground is far too wet to set up camp there and all bandas (i.e. huts) are occupied, Amanda, the owner of the campsite invites us to stay at her home.

 

"Mama" Amanda Philipps

 

"Mama" Amanda's house - thanks for inviting us!

Yet another great place for an office!

Land Rover lovers already!

This campsite again is one of our absolute favourites, not only because it is beautifully situated, but also because Amanda Philipps is so very much involved in the lives of both her employees and the people of the surrounding villages, that you can really delve deeply into the life around Iringa. If you want to learn Swahili, private Swahili lessons can be arranged directly on the campground!

Cooking the traditional way begins at the very beginning ... that is how you learn to respect food (and life!) ...

Yuuuk! We'd rather take the chicken meat from the supermarket!

 

Carrying goods the traditional way!

 

When we arrived, a group of students from an international school in England just worked on a project with one of the nearby village schools.

Beautifully designed classroom ...

... new design, windows, tables and chairs! Great work!

Tanzanian and international students working together hand in hand certainly is not only a great example of direct help, but also a way of creating intercultural encounters and relationships and thus ensuring bidirectional understanding ... The story of a 16-year-old English girl who used all her birthday money to sponsor goats for families with HIV-positive parents was simply touching!

Amanda is included in all kinds of other projects and knows a multitude of people in and around Iringa, so from connecting with the locals to anything the overlander needs, she can certainly help!

...

Because of Amanda we stumbled across a very interesting true story which actually sounds like taken from a fariy tale, bridging more than 120 years and connecting Tanzania and Germany. But, let's start at the beginning:

Chief "Mkwawa's" tale ...

Once upon a time in a continent called Africa there was a powerful chief bearing the name Munyigumba. Chief Munyigumba managed to unite over 100 clans of his people, the Hehe, and thus created a united Hehe nation, making it an equal among the other powerful tribes in eastern Africa. His people were originally farming their lands in a beautiful mountain landscape, but Munyigumba had them trained and soon they were famous and known as courageous and cunning warriors.

Sadly, Chief Munyigumba died early and the chiefdom was passed on to his eldest son Mkwavinyika Munyigumba Mwamuyinga who then was only 24 years old.

 

A painting of Chief "Mkwawa" in the small museum at Kalenga.

 

His name Mkwavinyika, "conqueror of many coutries", would prove right, as the new chief continued the work his father had begun, extening his realm, winning wars against other people from the south, east and west, and manging to keep the famous Massai warrior-cattle-thieves at a safe distance to the north. His capital, Kalenga, he fortified with a long and high wall. Apart from training his people militarily, the wise new ruler also made sure that the watering of the farmer's fields was made more effective to secure future harvests and the prosperity of his people.

Then one day came when pale skinned strangers arrived from far away distant shores up in the cold cold north ... only to call the tribal territories their "own". Soon, the Hehe chiefdom was included into a newly established "colony" called "Deutsch Ostafrika", German East Africa. As the Germanic intruders with their strange tongue were not able to pronounce the chief's name, they called him "Chief Mkwawa", a name which would so soon become connected with grief and sorrow for his family and people.

The new rulers in the country feared the stubborn and fierce Hehe warriors and finally declared war upon them. But their 320 men were attacked by 3000 Hehe, who killed many even though they were armed only with spears and very few rifles. The Hehe finally won the fight, also killing the German officer in charge, Emil von Zelewski.

 

Mkwawa's state house at Kalenga village

 

The unbeaten "Mkwawa" still proudly resided in his capital undisturbed for some years but one day the enemy magaged to conquer his fortress and he had to go underground.

The Germans were looking for revenge and even put a price on his head.

Being supported by his people, "Mkwawa" began a campaign of guerilla warfare. He would suddenly appear at some place but like a ghost would vanish into thin air as suddenly as he came ... only to reappear at a very distant place only a few days later. Soon his name would be whispered with fear and awe among friend and foe, but especially among the new settlers from the cold cold north. The oppressors could not find him but knowing that his family would know about his whereabouts, put pressure on "Mkwawa's" mother. She, being as courageous and proud as her son, led the soldiers to a mysterious place called ... and told them that before showing them the whereabouts of her son she would have to perform a certain ceremony being naked.

 

Kikongoma, the place where "Mkwawa's" mother killed herself.

 

The prudish newcomers let her go to undress and perform her "ceremony" ... and nobody ever saw her again, as she had jumped into secret holes which were connected to an underground river to drown herself.

But the day came nearer when "Mkwawa" would finally meet his sad fate: he found himself being surrounded by his enemy and the only way out he saw was committing suicide using a German rifle not to fall into enemy hands alive.

The grave of "Mkwawa's" decapitated body.

The Germans could only get hold of his corpse. One of the German soldiers who had tried to find him for years and, being "far more developed" than the "black natives", in his rage that he could not kill the chief himself, cut off the chief's head to make sure that he would get the head-hunter fee ... with the blood money he later would set up a farm near Mt Kilimandjaro.

Chief "Mkwawa's" skull at the museum in Kalenga

A tooth from the skull used for a recent DNA test.

The chief's head traveled a long journey to the home of the oppressor only to be forgotten in the corner of a museum far away from his native Africa.

...

Still, "Mkwawa"'s story would spread and his name would become more and more famous among Africans and Europeans alike to even be called the "Black Napoleon".

...

"Mkwawa"'s son, grandson and great grandson alike would become chiefs of the Hehe after their fathers had died. The infamous reputation of their ancestor and his famous warriors created and still creates fear among other leaders whether they were German, English or are modern Tanzanian. The Germans took them to their home country, Germany and educated them, the English tried to pull them on their side in subsequent European tribal wars and modern politicians try to quieten them with money and a policy of "divida et impera".

...

When finally the colonies were taken away from the Germans because they had lost a big tribal war in their home-continent, a big international contract was set up in which they were forced to hand back the chief's skull within six months. ... it took over half a century after "Mkwawa"'s death had passed for his head to be returned to his family and home country!

...

 

Chief Adam at his inauguration ... on the same day when his father died.

 
 

Chief Adam and his great great grandfather chief "Mkwawa"

 

Today, the chief of the Hehe is a boy of fifteen years, the great grandson of chief "Mkwawa" ... Just like "Simba" in Walt Disney's "Lion King", one year ago he lost his father due to an unexpectedly early death. Unlike "Simba", he became the new chief of the Hehe on the very day when his father died, putting the responsibility of a tribe of about one million heads on his shoulders.

Does he have uncles just waiting for their chance to become chief as Simba's uncle "Scar" does? What are his modern enemies and challenges?

How will his story continue?

Chief Adam, two of his sisters and us.

Chief Adam and Mischa

 

Anouk holding Chief "Mkwawa's" shield.

 

...

We want to thank the family of chief Mkwawa for sharing their stories and their time with us ... We enjoyed every minute spent with you and surely will meet again! Adam, we wish you all the best for your future and the future of your proud people!

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