On the 1st of July John, Dolly and I (Matt) ventured into central Dar Es Salaam to visit the National Museum in an attempt to learn more about the history of Tanzania. For Dolly and I, who both currently live in England, the journey into the city was something else, but for John it was just an everyday thing. Our drive started early with a bajaj ride into Kibo, from there was caught two separate dala dalas into the city centre. The buses and roads were hectic, so much so that Dolly and I agreed that we would never have found our way to the museum without John’s guidance!
When we arrived at the museum things were a lot calmer. There were lots of different exhibitions starting with the history of man and the animals that used to be found in the area around Dar. Here we learnt about Mary and Louis Leakey, and how they discovered what at the time (1959) was the oldest significantly intact hominid fossil ever to be found right here in Tanzania.
We then moved on to a much gloomier period of the country’s history, the slave trading era. Here we read about Tip Tip (Hemed bin Monhamed El Marjebi) who at the age of 18 began the slave and ivory trade between the Eastern Africa interior and coastal towns. He was known as Tip Tip as that was the sound his guns would make when he used them. We also saw artwork depicting the conditions that the slaves were subjected to and how they were treated. After Tip Tip we found a section dedicated to Barghash bin Said of Zanzibar (Pictured below) which was a much more positive read. Barghash is credited with building much of the infrastructure in Zanzibar as well as helping to abolish the slave trade. In 1870 he signed an agreement with Britain prohibiting slave trade in his kingdom and closing the great slave market in Mkunazini Zanzibar.
The museum then went on to cover the periods of European colonialism, starting with Germany forming German East Africa and then moving on to the British after they gained control of the area after their victory in the First World War. The British ruled until Tanganyika gained independence in 1961, soon after this (1963) the Zanzibar Archipelago did the same with the United Republic of Tanzania being formed in 1964.
After this we headed outside and were confronted by a huge tree. We found out that this tree was called ‘The Sacred Fig’ or Bo-tree, this type of tree is very significant in Hinduism and Buddhism, and it is symbolic of happiness, prosperity, longevity and good luck.
Overall the three of us had a great day exploring Dar and learning more about the great country that we are in. A special thanks to John for helping Dolly and I around central Dar and to his Uncle who provided us with a lovely lunch at a local hotel.
Matt Jones- Marketing intern