Lonyuki Lekichawo

Name ID 2539

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Arusha Times
Extract Author: Laura Tarimo
Page Number: 472b
Extract Date: 1899

How Germans gained control over Waarusha. After defeating them, Germans built a Boma as symbol of superiority

Adapted from A History of the Lutheran Church Diocese in the Arusha Region from 1904 to 1958 by Rev. Dr. Joseph W. Parsalaw. Dissertation: Erlangen University, Germany, February 1997.

But this was not enough, Captain Johannes wanted complete control. And three years later, in 1899, he was to get what he wanted. After receiving consent from his superiors in the German Administration, he began the construction of a fort that would symbolize German control over the territory.

With this development the Waarusha were to suffer their worst humiliation. They not only suffered the shame of watching the enemy’s fort being built in their territory, they were forced to participate in the actual construction of the Boma.

The once-fiery warriors used their swords to dig out limestone and their shields to carry it to the site. Younger women brought banana fibres for thatching. Older women pounded mud with their feet, while others fetched grass for the Captains donkeys.

And so the Waarusha toiled to construct the new building. And the toil was not easy, as one elder, Lonyuki Lekichawo described to H. A. Fosbrooke who quotes him in the 1955 publication of Tanzania Notes and Records:

"Seeing the trees being cut down around Arusha Boma reminds me of my youth. At that time, the whole township area was cultivated and covered with banana groves and huts, and the German Administration was centred round the place where the Clock now stands. The present Boma had only just been started and the walls were perhaps three feet high. In common with the rest of my age-set, I had been put on to this building job. At that time our fighting with the Germans was over: they did not attack us nor did we attack them.

"One day when we were at this work, six of us were called out and told to climb a very tall tree standing to the West of the Boma where the Police car park is. We were told to climb up with our axes and cut the branches from the upper part of the tree. We climbed up with the aid of a locally made rope such as is used for honey hunting. The Nubi askari pulled the rope away whilst we were up the three. Meanwhile others were cutting the trunk of the tree with a saw. These were people of some other tribe that had been brought in as labourers by the Germans. While we were still up the three, it started to fall. There was nothing we could do as the rope had been removed. We all came down with a crash. Of the six of us, three were killed on the spot and three of us escaped. Luckily we were no more than bruised and scratched."

But from the lost lives and from the toil and humiliation grew a Boma, and around the Boma grew Arusha town.

By 1900 the fort was completed and Captain Johannes used it to house a troops of 150 Nubian soldiers. Soon, the Imperial German Ensign was flying from the flagstaff and the fortification was henceforth used by the Germans for regional government offices until 1934.

Meanwhile, the town spread around the Boma. In 1906, the second modern construction, a residential building called the White House, was completed in Ilboru and a road was built to link the two sites.

Gradually, Indian traders, German farmers and traders, as well as immigrant Africans settled in the surrounding area. A market cropped up on the banks of Themi River and in 1914 construction of the first school. Boma school was started in the area where the present Arusha Town Lutheran Church stands. This was completed in 1924 and by then a hotel and several other buildings had been constructed in the vicinity.

The completion of the rail-road to Moshi in the early 1920s led to a further influx of immigrants and the town’s population has been increasing and the metropolitan area expanding ever since. By 1948 Arusha had a population of 5,300 people and in the 1970s it reached 100,000.

In a hundred years the village around the fort has grown into a busy Metropolitan area. Today Arusha Town boasts a population of more than 350,000 people and covers an area of 82.5 square kilometres. And it hasn’t stopped growing. Today Arusha opens its doors to myriads of newcomers just as it did in the time of the Boma’s glory.

Extract ID: 5903
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