Jun 28, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Morogoro: ‘City with no ocean’ making waves in hospitality

Situated between Tanzania’s capital Dodoma and the commercial city of Dar es Salaam, Morogoro is the country’s “central” meeting point.

For centuries it has been a resting place for overland travelers between the coastal ports and the southern highlands and even those who lead beyond the border to countries of the Great Lakes region such as Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo.

Morogoro is also the first station on the railway line that meanders from Dares to Salaam to Kigoma on the banks of the Tanganyika and Mwanza along Lake Victoria. This has made the city a cultural melting pot.

The city’s main thoroughfare, Boma Road, is a mango-lined avenue that dates back to the days of slavery. The trees are said to have been planted by Arab traders in the 19th century to mark the route and provide shade for them and their goods. It was a stop on their journey from Bagamoyo on the coast to Tabora and Kigoma in western Tanzania during the slave and ivory trade treks, according to my host and guide Alfred Mkude.

Hardly seen in travel blogs and tourist magazines ‘Moro’, as the town is affectionately known by hip Tanzanians, is a tranquil idyllic destination, perfect as a getaway for those from Dar es Salaam or Dodoma looking to relax in the cool temperatures and fresh air of the Uluguru Mountains.

I left Dar at 6am by bus for Tsh 10,000 ($4.3) one way. I arrived in Morogoro at 10am due to traffic jams caused by long-distance trucks on this major artery. Most of the traffic went to the Great Lakes region.

Residents affectionately refer to Morogoro as “Mji kasoro bahari” (Swahili for “a city without an ocean”) to explain its importance, Mkude said .

Morogoro is a rich agricultural area and the main market was full of traders and their fresh produce.

According to historical accounts, the city was founded by chief Kisebengo or “Kingo” of the Waluguru -Community that controlled the area. The place where the city stands was his palace, the center of his fiefdom, and he is said to have had good relations with the Arab traders of Bagamoyo to the east and Ujiji to the west.

Tourist attractions include today’s Saint Patrick Church on Old Dar es Salaam Road, marked as the site where Welsh journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley camped after paying a courtesy call to Chief Kisebengo on his way to Ujiji in search of David Livingstone in 1871 < /p>

When German invaders conquered the city in 1890, they built a fortress or “boma” on the foothills of the Uluguru Mountains. It still stands.

During German and British rule, people sentenced to death were hanged in Morogoro. The hanging place is now manned by the Elite Field Force Unit (FFU) of the Tanzania Police Force, the Regional Police Headquarters.

There is also a WW1 Memorial Cemetery on Boma Road, now dedicated to the Commonwealth is under the Graves Commission.

On the slopes of the Uluguru mountain range is The Morning Site, a scenic picnic spot and vantage point overlooking the city below.