14

Jul 17
  • Tanzania

VISITING THE HISTORICAL TOWN OF BAGAMOYO

Day broke and after getting ready, it was time for breakfast.Bertha made a concoction, the name of which escapes me, of Matooke (Bananas) that’s blended and pieces of meat added. I don’t really like matooke and will avoid it if I can so much as I tried a few spoonfuls, this was one Tanzanian dish that wasn't happening for me.

We then set off and picking up a friend along the way, for Bagamoyo.I was super excited because as a history lover it was the part of my trip I was dying for.John asked if I’d like to see the snake park which was along the way,,,Hell Yes!.

We arrived to a quiet, deserted looking space with a couple of enclosures on the far left side, we walked towards them and were later joined by the caretaker/guide and after John explaining I did not speak any kiswahili,the guide went about showing us the different snakes they've got along with some English commentary.

It was pretty cool. Granted I’m terribly afraid of snakes but the fascination I have with the slimy buggers always wins in the end. They had pythons, mambas, cobras to mention but a few. One of the snakes was snacking (they are fed once a week) on a little white mouse. It was brutal!

The guide asked us if we would like to take pictures holding the snakes, I declined as the snakes in question were really small and  would probably end up in corners and crevices they didn't belong, so long story short, it was a no. We then checked out the crocodiles, monitor lizards, chameleons and tortoises then left.

On arrival in Bagamoyo,we went to the Old Fort first which was built in 1860 using mostly cobblestone by Arabs. After 10 years in 1870,the sultan at the time started using it as a Fort. After the scramble and partition of Africa  Tanzania or Tanganyika at the time was given to the Germans  who established it as their main headquarters. The lower sections of the building used by the low ranking soldiers and the upper quarters for the high ranking officers. The Germans at the fort went about trying to abolish the  slave trade something that didn't not bode well with Abushiri,the infamous slave master which led to an all out war later dubbed the The Abushiri revolt  between Abushiri,his supporters and the Germans from 1888-1889.

After Abushiri killed a number of German officials, Captain Otto Von Bismark was brought in to capture and kill Abushiri, a feat they managed to accomplish after a long chase that saw Abushiri hanged to death.

After the first world war and  the Germans defeat by the British, they lost their African colonies as punishment (I still remember much of it from high school history class!) which subsequently led to the British taking over Tanganyika and the fort which they turned into a prison.

We took a tour around the fort which was undergoing some serious renovation and repair. What I loved most about the Fort was its entrance door. An Indian style door with some Arab influence with different markings that included chains, which showed that the owner of the house was a slave master, dead root for prosperity and longevity, flowers used to burn as incense to appease the gods, pineapple and coconut palm trees symbolizing food and cash crops.

Had it been an Arab style door, it would have had fish instead of the crops, sunflowers and a black space right at the top for the owners name to be written.

The British after converting the Fort into a prison added a large peep hole in order for them to view prisoners being brought in. There was also a handle that told visitors and the like whether the house belonged to a man or woman.

We then walked down to a monument erected to show the spot where Abushiri and his supporters had been hanged. (the actual tree where the hangings were done was cut down by some locals years ago, hence the monument)right next to it was a deep salt water well constructed by an unnamed Indian man. There are about 200 of these wells but only one among them had fresh water, I’ll get to it later.

We then visited the 1st catholic church. The streets leading up to it reminded of the beautiful cobbled streets of Zanzibar. Right next to the beautiful cathedral is a museum which was so educational and interesting as opposed to the sad Ugandan museum. We could learn a thing or 9 from here!

The last leg of the tour was the Kaole Ruins. First up were the ruins of the first and I mean the very first mosque in East Africa! like wow! of course it being holy ground, one has to take off their shoes before going in. A little further down were a couple of gravestones, one of which belonged to the very first sheik. The next one is referred to as the 'Lovers grave' that housed two lovers that died tragically at sea, or is it ocean, let’s go with sea. This is what I picked from the guide who did his very best to tell me all these stories in English, the struggle was real but I got it all in the end. Apparently people often go to pray here when searching for love! How romantic.

The last graves I saw belonged to a one Sharifa and three other children,Sharifa who died at 13, was believed by many to be an angel evidenced by the one fresh water well I mentioned earlier that is right by the mosque ruins. Legend goes Sharifa prayed and blessed the well and it instantly went from salt to fresh water. It is the only one of its kind out of the 200 other wells. It is said that washing with this water would bestow blessings! Trust me and Bertha to drench ourselves in the holy water.

We then proceeded to a mini museum housing different artifacts like pottery excavated from one of the ruins, you have to leave your bags outside, lest one decides to take a souvenir I guess.

Lastly we checked out this massive Baobab tree that has been standing proudly and magnificently since the 13th century! If it could talk, the stories it could tell!

It is said that if you wish to add more years to your life, you walk round the tree in a clockwise fashion as many time as you want, one walk about giving you one year, if you're suicidal and want to shave some years then its anti clockwise for you. i gave the clockwise walk ago.

Also, witch craft was/is practiced on this tree, if you wished to harm or kill an enemy, one would get a nail and hammer it in and wait for the gods to do the rest. The more urgently and thoroughly you wished to kill your foe, the bigger the nail! There were some big ass nails in that tree.

The tour was done and I was a very happy and satisfied individual. John and I talked about how funny it was people could live in a country so rich in history and culture and not bother to check it out, just sad!

We then went to the Funky squid beach for a bit and I snacked on some prawns.Sofie and Dawn joined us at this point.

We went to one of the shacks in town for some chicken and chips mayai,I opted for some beef sticks which turned out to be tougher than leather! Poor cow died in vain I tell you. The highlight was the sugarcane juice, it was so refreshing with its hints of lemon and ginger, I really must try and find it when I get home.

There was talk of going to this concert that was happening in town. It was a cultural music type event with artists from all over, the likes of D'banj and Papa Wemba but since we tried to get accommodation and failed miserably on account of all of Bagamoyo being full we decided to leave also we couldn't take Sofie's baby with us to a raging concert. So we decided to head home,Dar, that is ,which was absolutely fine with me because I was so tired I kept blacking out during conversations. Either way, Best day ever!!!!