Kigoma

Name ID 2296

See also

Tanganyika Guide
Page Number: 50
Extract Date: 1953

Section IV—Tabora to Kigoma

West of Tabora the journey leads through densely populated and well-cultivated country for about 40 miles until, at Usoke, the savannah woodland is once more entered. From Kaliva, a little farther on, a branch railway has been built to the richly mineralised country containing the Mpanda Mine. Still farther on, the line dips into the deeply eroded Malagarasi Valley, and runs for some distance along the river, with the Uvinza Salt Works visible on the opposite side. The excellent salt produced at this place was well known when Burton, the explorer, passed by on his way to Lake Tanganyika in 1857, and Africans still come from places hundreds of miles away to purchase it. The salt also finds a good market far into the Eastern Congo.

Once more the line leaves the main valley and climbs to a plateau, finally descending into the Central African Rift. Then come a few low hills, a few groves of oil palms, and the train pulls up on the shore of Kigoma Bay, a sheet of dark blue water, surrounded on three sides by pleasant hills, while through the fourth shines the surface of mighty Lake Tanganyika.

Although the development of Kigoma was severely checked by the war, the port now has a considerable trade from the shores of the lake, from the Belgian Congo and from Ruanda-Urundi. From Kigoma the traveller should not fail to visit the old Arab port of Ujiji, three miles across the hills on the open shores of the lake, where a monument marks the site of the old mango tree under which Stanley met Livingstone in 1871. There are many pleasant walks along the hilltops of Kigoma Peninsula, with splendid views of the lake and the distant Congo Mountains.

Extract ID: 5540

See also

White, Paul (Text); Emery, Ossie and Udey, Edwin (Photos) Jungle Doctor Panorama
Page Number: 120
Extract Date: 1960

Map showing location of CMS hospitals

Extract ID: 5706

See also

Palin, Michael Pole to Pole
Page Number: 231
Extract Date: Oct 1991

DAY 103 DODOMA TO KIGOMA

Dream of thousands of shuffling feet, a babble of strange voices, baby cries, chickens clucking, heavy objects being dragged close by me, clicks and curses and strange cries. My eyes are wide open, but I can see nothing. My window has been boarded up. The noises continue, growing in intensity.

Dawn. In the Low Type, which is filthy and caked with un-flushed waste, a sign reads The co-operation of passengers is required to prevent waste of water and the misuse of this toilet compartment'. There's no water to waste.

Something is different about the train this morning. It's shorter for a start, and the restaurant car is different (the clock has stopped at 8.10 rather than 1.05). Over breakfast of fried egg, boiled potato, bread, marge and three cups of sweet tea, I hear the explanation of my dream last night. Soon after midnight the train stopped at Tabora in order to be split up and re-grouped into three separate trains. Patti and Craig had to spend three hours on the platform making sure our equipment was not sent north to Mwanza or south to Mpanda. Apparently Patti received one proposal of marriage. Craig none, sadly. Angela tried to help out with her torch until she found out that the entire shunting manoeuvres at Tabora were being co-ordinated by torch signals.

Later, to the restaurant car for elevenses. It is closed. All the windows have been covered up with some kind of material. Rueful smiles all round. No one seems particularly worried, except me. I try again in half an hour only to find the rueful smiles turned to wholehearted joy at the continued closure of the restaurant. Then a soldier emerges from inside, positively wreathed in smiles.

`It is a girl,' he announces.

It must be almost as we touch the 30 degree meridian, for the first time since the Mediterranean, that a little girl is born in the restaurant car of the Dar es Salaam to Kigoma Express. It is certainly the best thing the restaurant car has provided so far and I take it as a very good omen for the rest of our journey.

Mercury being well out of retrograde at the moment things do seem to be going, if not comfortably, at least smoothly and we are on the final curve into Kigoma by late afternoon, only three and a half hours behind schedule on a 27-hour journey. A lush, thick, heavy heat spills in from the open doorway. Children run out from groves of bananas, papaya and mango to wave at the train. Mbego sits on the step at the end of our coach, unselfconsciously tickling the ear of his friend. There is a marked absence of the heightened stress and strain that usually grips arriving passengers.

Kigoma Station is a fine old colonial building, and looks as though it could be North Italian with its arches and loggia. Its grand clock, in the fine tradition of TRC, is stopped. Useless Facts Department: from a hanging sign above one of the doors I learn that the Swahili for Stationmaster is Steshinimasta.

We are driven to our lodgings by a soft-spoken middle-aged man in a well-kept Toyota Corolla, with a transfer of the Pope on one window. He turns out to be a doctor as well as a taxi driver and apologizes for not taking the direct road to the hotel.

`There are large holes in it, you understand.'

Our detour bounces us along a red earth track, scattering chickens and goats, which leads to the low, nondescript façade of the Railway Hotel.

We unload for the 53rd time. Kigoma, elevation 2541 feet, population 50,044, is just about bang on course at 29.36 degrees East. We have completed our long, enforced eastern swing from Khartoum in 30 days, and hopefully we've made it in time to make the infrequent but vital ferry connection to Mpulungu and Zambia.

Clem, who should be feeling very pleased with himself, appears from hotel reception looking quite the opposite. Apparently no one knows anything about our bookings, and they do not have enough rooms for us. Kigoma is by no means awash with alternative accommodation so this is a cruel blow. As Clem and Angela embark on the slow process of sorting out the reservations, I walk across a bare and uninviting lobby to be confronted with the sort of view that lifts the spirits however low they might have sunk. A descent of chipped concrete steps leads down to a grassy bank, studded with tables and parasols, beyond which the waves of a wide blue-green lake spill lethargically onto a beach of coarse red sand. Lake Tanganyika, confined here into a small bay between low, grassy headlands, stretches away, across to the hazy cliffs of Zaire, once the Congo, Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

It is a breathtaking revelation of scale and space, as if I had opened a door onto the centre of Africa.

`When I grow up I shall go there . .

Well, I've had my cosmic moment and now the reality must be faced. The Railway Hotel, Kigoma is not the heart of darkness. It is more like a cross between a pub in Earl's Court and a minor Hilton. Encamped on the thick unmown lawns are two dozen Australian and New Zealand overlanders drinking beer. A Japanese film crew are at work in the lake and another harassed European rushes past us clutching a sheaf of papers.

After hours of patient negotiation we are all found rooms. They are arranged in unglamorous functional blocks which do no justice at all to the splendour of the location. Mine has a small bed with a frame for a mosquito

and basin, but no hot water. My lavatory is of the High Type, but the cistern overflows gently and persistently. As if to further mock my dreams of solitariness and isolation, all I can hear as I unpack is a radio crackling out the last seconds of commentary from the Rugby Union World Cup followed by a roar from the darkness outside as Australia defeat New Zealand.

Later I settle down with Conrad on my narrow bed, and read myself to sleep to the sound of 'the howling sorrow of savages' and the gentle lapping of an overflowing lavatory cistern.

Extract ID: 5728

See also

Palin, Michael Pole to Pole
Page Number: 233
Extract Date: Oct 1991

DAY 104 KIGOMA

Day of rest and recuperation at the hotel. I have fixed the cistern by jamming a lavatory brush beneath the ballcock.

Examine myself in the mirror (Serial Number TRC HOT GM NM 024) to see whether three and a half months of

travel have left any damage. I gaze into dull weary eyes set in sun-reddened features. A bleached immobility of expression. I look like a survivor from some awful natural disaster. Laugh at the thought, and only then do I recognize something of myself.

At breakfast – omelette, chips and sliced white bread – the manager apologizes for the lack of facilities:

`We have hot water boilers and supply all ready, but no one comes to fit them' . . . He rubs a handkerchief across his face and shakes his head . . . 'They are simply standing in waste.'

A few African horror stories with our omelettes . . . Craig tells us that in his opinion electric shocks are the best cure for snake-bites. He recounts the story of someone whose life was saved after a bite – from 'some sort of cobra' – when he was wired up to an outboard motor.

Put the earth in one hand and the live wire on the bite. Five applications in 15 seconds. Oh sure, his hair stood on end and he was lifted a foot or two off the ground, but the doctors said it saved his life.'

After breakfast, having ascertained that the risk of bilharzia is low as the water is not stagnant, that crocodiles would not come in this far and sea serpents are all I have to watch out for, I take a cautious bathe. The water is clear and cool, the surroundings quite beautiful. No sailing boats or watersporters to disturb the peace. Only the barely perceptible wake of a passing dugout troubles the placid water. And I can tell my grandchildren that I swam in Lake Tanganyika.

Dry out in warm sun with a cold Safari Beer. At the bar is a small, straight-backed European who turns out to have spent 19 months in Antarctica. Had he enjoyed it?

He pulls fiercely on a cigarette, scouring it for every last ounce of nicotine, before answering, with eyes narrowed against an endless exhalation.

`Put it zis vay . . . It is an experience you should go through.'

He knows the MV Agulhas, the ship we hope to take to Antarctica, and asks me to remember him to the captain.

`Sure . . . Your name?'

Doktor Brandt,' he replies after an inexplicable hesitation. I ask him what he's doing here in Kigoma.

`Teaching blacks to use the telephone,' he replies crisply.

Having nothing better to do, I begin to suspect him of being involved in some sort of racket and later I find that I could be right, when I overhear him asking the manager, sotto voce, 'Any news?'

This surely is the stuff of Conrad. At last a whiff of intrigue and corruption in the heart of darkness.

It turns out that he is enquiring as to the whereabouts of his lavatory seat.

The manager spreads his arms helplessly. We wait for them . . .' But the Doktor is not in a mood to be trifled with.

`Vy cannot you take the lavatory seat from 14 and put it in 15?'

I rush to make sure my door's locked against possible loo seat predators.

Round off a bizarre day eating goat stew and drinking Primus beer from Burundi in a local restaurant in the middle of a power cut. Our host is the taxi driver-doctor, whose name is William, who has become our self-appointed guide to Kigoma. The restaurant, or what I can see of it in the lamplight, is rough and ready, with an ancient, almost biblical feel to it. Above the doorway is a large hand-lettered wooden board, like a pub sign. I presume that to be the name of the restaurant and ask William for a translation.

`It says "Pay Before You Leave".'

Anyway, the goat is excellent, and best of all, it is not the property of Tanzanian Railways.

Extract ID: 5729

See also

Palin, Michael Pole to Pole
Page Number: 236
Extract Date: Oct 1991

DAY 105 KIGOMA

Another day to kill before the ferry leaves. Take a boat to Ujiji, a few miles down the coast. Once the centre of a thriving slave trade it's also the place where Livingstone and Stanley met in 1871.

The location of this historic meeting is now a small museum in a well-tended garden on a hill above the busy waterfront. A forbidding, lumpish grey monument, 'erected by the Government of Tanganyika Territory' in 1927, stands beneath two mango trees said to be descendants of the one under which Livingstone and Stanley met. On it is carved a map of Africa with a cross incised into it. It's a brutal and arrogant image. The only visitor besides ourselves is an Englishman from Leicester, looking very red and unprotected in the sun. He is in his fifties and had decided, after reading a book about Cecil Rhodes' plan for a railway from the Cape to Cairo, to do the journey himself. Today he had only one thing on his mind:

`All I'm looking for, Michael, is a cold beer.' I suggest he make for the Railway Hotel, Kigoma.

Things are more light-hearted inside the museum, despite its depressingly empty rooms and smell of disuse. Most of the work is by a local schoolteacher, A. Hamisi. There is a series of paintings of the great moments in the life of Livingstone – 'Dr Livingstone saving Chuma and Others from Slavery', 'Dr Livingstone Sitting Under the Mango Tree Thinking About Slavery in Ujiji'. Beside these are two life-size papier mache models of Livingstone, looking like Buster Keaton in dark blue three-piece suit, raising his peaked cap to a Stanley looking like Harold Macmillan in light blue safari suit and pink face. These are also the work of A. Hamisi of Kigoma Secondary School. There is nothing else in the museum.

We drive out of Ujiji, up Livingstone Street, then right at Lumumba Road, and back via Mwanga – home of 'Vatican Enterprises Hardware Supplies' and 'Super Volcano Tailoring' to the busy mango and acacia-lined main street of Kigoma – also named after Patrice Lumumba, one of the great heroes of African independence who was assassinated in 1961.

At the Railway Hotel, half an hour before sunset. This is a magic time as the sun sinks toward the lake and the mountains of Zaire, always grey in the haze, sharpen to a deep black. At the lakeside tonight Australians and New Zealanders, Dr Brandt, erect and smoking powerfully, two Dutch boys, the Japanese underwater cameraman, even my friend from Leicester gather to watch the sun go down, and for a few minutes every sound, even the cries of the naked children plunging into water nearby, seems to grow distant.

Extract ID: 5730

See also

Palin, Michael Pole to Pole
Page Number: 240
Extract Date: Oct 1991

DAY 106 KIGOMA TO MPULUNGU

Down to the waterfront at 9 a.m. to join the queue for tickets on the ferry which runs to Mpulungu once a week. Ahead of me in the line is Francis, a farmer from Karema, one of the stops on the way down the lake. I explain to him what we are doing, and, with more difficulty, why we are doing it. He listens carefully before asking, politely, 'And will your film help to solve the problems it exposes?'

The MV Liemba, 800 tons, her lines as straight as the back of a Prussian cavalry officer, is said to be the oldest passenger ship in regular service anywhere in the world. Judging by her history she could have been better named the MV Lazarus. Built as a warship in Germany, she was carried in pieces overland and assembled on Lake Tanganyika in 1913. At the end of the Great War she was scuttled by the Germans, and lay on the bottom of the lake until raised and refitted by the British in 1922. She was in regular operation as a steam ship, before being converted to diesel in 1978. After 80 years she remains the only way out of Kigoma to the south or to the west. If we had missed today's sailing we would almost certainly have missed the sailing from Cape Town to Antarctica in a month's time.

We pull away at 5 p.m. The Australian and New Zealand overlanders have taken over the stern deck, and the locals crowd into the bows or the lower covered decks, squashing in with their boxloads of plastic sandals, pineapples, and even Lion Brand Mosquito Coils – 'Keep Out of Damp' –and with apparent good grace accepting the presence of two white-owned Land Rovers, which further reduce the space. At least we can all feel ourselves better off than the several hundred tired and confused occupants of the Kabambare, a barge just arrived from Kalemie in Zaire. They are refugees from the inter-tribal violence which has recently flared up in their country. They do not know if the Tanzanian authorities will accept them.

A last look at Kigoma from the departing ferry. I had come here expecting dense jungle, snakes, monkeys and swamps. Instead the town at the centre of Africa resembles a small port on a discreet Scottish loch, with the railway line running picturesquely between the water and low grassy hills – reassuring, comfortable, rendered exotic only by the bright slash of purple from the jacaranda trees on the shore.

My cabin has the stamp of Tanzanian Railways all over it. It claims to be air-conditioned but the fan is missing. There is a basin but no water, hot or cold. All but one of the light bulbs is missing.

Three hours out from Kigoma I am unenthusiastically facing up to a plate of rice and scrawny chicken leg, when the engine note changes down an octave, the ship slows and within seconds the night air is filled with a growing clamour of voices. They grow louder and more insistent, and are mingled with the splash of paddles and the thudding of boats against the hull. Out on deck in some alarm to witness an extraordinary scene. Flooded by powerful shipboard lights, a dozen or more dugouts are clustering around the Liemba like maggots at a corpse, filled with vendors of every kind of food, families trying to get themselves and their belongings aboard and water taxis touting to take people off. Everyone is screaming to make themselves heard, as a forest of hands extends from below decks, waving, beckoning, holding out money, helping some people aboard and others down into the bobbing mass of boats below.

Every boat is vying with its neighbour to get close to the Liemba. As soon as the tiniest gap is glimpsed paddles are applied furiously and very often one hull will ride up over another, until with cries of protest, the offending canoe is thrust back. Babes in arms are passed to the hopeful safety of outstretched hands. Small boys frantically bale out their boats.

This is African business. The whites can only watch and photograph. There is an urgency about it all that is spellbinding and exhilarating and exhausting. And I'm told later that what looked like a fully-fledged native attack is just one of 15 scheduled stops.

Extract ID: 5731

See also

Ondaatje, Christopher Journey to the Source of the Nile
Page Number: 148a
Extract Date: 1996

Into Kigoma

Burton's description of Speke's attitude here is also important. It is clear that the two men now had serious differences of opinion that would lead to later conflict. I could not help wondering whether Speke had already lost interest in Lake Tanganyika, knowing, from talking to people along the route, that it could not be the source of the Nile, as Burton still believed. Perhaps he was already on the alert for an opportunity to get away from Burton long enough to get up to Nyanza, the northern lake. His opportunity would come, but not before a gruelling assignment on Lake Tanganyika.

Descending from the hills, we drove into and right through the busy town of Kigoma, then six kilometres southeast to Ujiji. Ujiji is one of Africa's oldest market villages. It is a colourful, bustling, commercial centre. The majority of the population is from the Ha tribe, although Arab influence is seen in the architecture. Structures bear a strong resemblance to coastal homes, and this is especially evident in the carved wooden doors.

At Ujiji, Burton reflected on the economics of the slave trade, remarking that the town was "still the great slave-mart of these regions, the article being collected from all the adjoining tribes of Urundi, Uhha, Uvira, and Marungu.... [T]he trade realizes nearly 500 per cent, and will, therefore, with difficulty be put down."

Burton and Speke, the first Europeans to see Lake Tanganyika, arrived at Ujiji in February 1858, and immediately started exploring the waters of the lake. Twenty-three years later, in 1871, Livingstone also made his way to Ujiji, at that time the terminus for most caravans from the coast. It was here that the historic meeting between Stanley and Livingstone took place. Both the name of Livingstone Street and a 1927 plaque donated by the Royal Geographical Society commemorate the event. In Ujiji we headed straight to the Livingstone Memorial. It stands on the spot where Stanley met the famous explorer, but the beach and the lake front have receded considerably. After a look at the memorial, I went down to the beach: boys were swimming, girls bathing and washing, women tending their children, men selling wares, boats being built.

Extract ID: 5777

See also

Ondaatje, Christopher Journey to the Source of the Nile
Page Number: 149
Extract Date: 1996

The Railway Hotel

Just before 6:00 p.m., we went back to Kigoma and checked into the Railway Hotel. This old relic looks over the lake and some landscaped gardens. The rooms were hot and austere: a fan, a rudimentary electrical system, bars on the window above my bed, a piece of dirty cloth pulled over the window, which I drew back to let in the breeze off Lake Tanganyika. I could hear waves lapping outside the window. In fact, I was so entranced by the sound that I stood on the bed to see the lake and feel the wind. My main interest, however, was the mosquito netting. I decided it did not seem too bad.

As it turned out, I spent a sleepless night. A few "ladies of the night" plied their trade in a remarkably noisy fashion on the promenade between my room and the lakefront. They did not seem to stop their bargaining until well after midnight. Besides, I had been too optimistic about the quality of the mosquito netting. It was full of holes and offered little protection. And then there was the wind. Its velocity increased at about 3:00 a.m., creating pounding waves very much like ocean surf. Although by 6:00 a.m. the wind had subsided and it was much quieter, everything was very different from the miombo where we had been camping. I preferred the bush.

Extract ID: 5778

See also

Ondaatje, Christopher Journey to the Source of the Nile
Page Number: 150
Extract Date: 1996

day in Kigoma

We spent a necessary day in Kigoma, servicing the cars, doing laundry, getting supplies — and hearing stories about the refugees in south-western Tanzania who were pouring in from Rwanda and Burundi. Even in Kigoma there were refugees, a growing crowd of people who had made their way across Lake Tanganyika from Zaire, seeking escape from the political turmoil in that country.

Saturday is dog day in Kigoma. People bring their dogs to a pound where the animals are dipped in a strong disinfectant solution to get rid of the fleas and lice. It was a totally mad scene, humans making much more noise than the dogs.

When we drove down to the Kigoma harbour to negotiate for a boat to explore the eastern coastline north of Ujiji and Kigoma, we encountered a crisis in the making. Many boatloads of refugees had arrived the night before from strife-torn Zaire. It was a pitiful scene. The refugees had been ordered to stay on their boats and not to land; hundreds and hundreds — maybe even thousands — of people in longboats kept offshore by armed guards with machine-guns. The guards were there to prevent the refugees from setting foot in Tanzania until they had official refugee status.

There were dozens of villagers on the beach, talking, bartering, jostling, craning for a better view. I mingled with the crowds, hoping to take photographs, but was not very popular with either the villagers or the refugees. I did not blame them. Those who had come from Zaire were fleeing the conflict between the ruling dictator, President Mobutu, and the rebel leader, Laurent Kabila. The refugee situation was greatly worsened by conflict between warring factions ofTutsis and Hutus, which had resulted in the further flight of hundreds of thousands of Hutus from neighbouring Rwanda.

The refugees are the result, not the cause, of the strife — the result of political upheaval and of genocide, stemming in turn from colonial interference in Africa, from the transition to undemocratic forms of independence, and from tyranny and greed.

Refugees are big business in Africa. The Western world is being held to ransom by the various countries to which refugees flee. Tanzania, for example, will not always admit the refugees unless Western countries pay the government for costs and administration. When payment is assured, a certain number are allowed in and given refugee status. It is not a simple humane act. It is a business deal. Only when the money is actually paid do the white United Nations vans come into play to transport refugees, to set up the camps, to provide medical services, and so on. The host countries make enormous financial demands on the Western countries. Some of this money trickles down to the refugees. Most of it, however, usually goes to the people organizing food and shelter for them. The refugees were being held offshore not simply because of lack of space. It was financial blackmail.

After a time, I moved off and wandered around the bustling Kigoma market. It had everything for sale, from watches to vegetables: rubber goods, chemicals, outboard motors, automotive parts, sticks, brightly coloured plastic, cloth. Most of the merchants seemed to be of Arab origin, and of course I thought again of Burton and the Arab traders.

Thad and I noticed one Parakuyu Maasai woman selling "potions" at the side of the road and thought of Burton. Curiosity demanded that for 4,000 shillings, we buy some dawa ya kiume (medicine for maleness). This was a whitish powder mixed with two shades of brown powder and made from the bark of the ormerurai tree. This is its name in Maa, the Maasai language. In Swahili it is called the urale tree. The potion was supposed to be an aphrodisiac. Instructions: 11/2 heaped teaspoons in black tea. Add sugar if necessary. Take this mixture before eating, morning and evening, for four days. The good results were guaranteed to last for two months. We asked some questions about the tree and the different colours of powders. All the powder is taken from different parts of the same tree — some from the bark and some from the roots.

The Parakuyu Maasai woman then also gave us a long twig from the Acacia nilotica tree. In Maa it is called the ol-kiloriti tree. Instructions: Take half of the twig, and soak it in a cup of water for one hour. When the twig gets soft, chew on it. Do not swallow it. Get the juice out of the twig and spit out the pulp. After that, drink the rest of the juice. This must be taken together with the powder potion already prescribed. The ol-kiloriti twig is also used in meat-eating ceremonies by the Maasai. It is cooked with soup and helps a lot with the digestion of meat.

Back at the hotel before noon, we planned an early lunch before setting out on our expedition along the coastline. However, it looked gloomy, with heavy rain clouds over the lake. Burton called Ujiji the "place of storms," and a real one seemed to be brewing. We had been warned that severe storms with huge waves arise without notice on the lake and can make conditions very dangerous.

Extract ID: 5779
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