Moshi, Tanzania Hailed as the Most Innovative Town in East Africa
The country of Tanzania is an adventurer’s dream. As part of East Africa’s Rift System (E.A.R.S.), it is located in a very geologically active area of the world. The ever-raging battle of plate tectonics that occurs beneath the surface of this region, affects the appearance of what is topside. Mountains are formed (or destroyed) because of the violent clashing of the constantly shifting plates; inevitably they crash into each other, and one of the plates will be forced down underneath its more firmly-fortified opponent. The result that we are able to observe is the formation of the terrain. Tanzania has thusly become a favorite destination of outdoorsy explorers from around the globe. Places like the Serengeti offer the vacation of a lifetime with a wild safari adventure, experiencing the raw nature in the land of the great wildebeest migration. The Ngorongoro Crater, which is listed as a top 10 World’s Greatest Natural Wonder, lures photographers and other seekers of beauty. And of course, for those more appreciative of a jolt of adrenaline coursing through their veins, there is the majestic Mt. Kilimanjaro. With this as just a few of the examples of this nation’s grandeur, it is not surprising that so many more people are visiting to touch the truly awesome gifts of this land.
The love of this part of the world, however, is nothing new. In fact, since the first millennium, people have been drawn to the east coast of Africa. Merchants and various other travelers of Persian Gulf and Western Indian descent were among the first. This influence spread and flourished in the area, and evidence of the practice of Islam on the Swahili coast can be dated as far back as the 8th or 9th century. Furthermore, in the terms of prehistory, this region is considered as one of the oldest currently-known areas on earth that has been continuously inhabited. There are fossil remains not only of humans, but also of pre-human hominids that have been dated as being over 2 million years old. Experts speculate that these people were most likely hunter-gatherers, with the later descendents being of the Cushitic or Khosian speaking class.
Next, the Bantu-speakers emerged from the Western African region about 2,000 years ago, and practiced a lifestyle of pastoralism. Later, there was a Nilistic influx that lasted straight through to the 1700s. In the late 1800s, several African countries were conquered by the Germans, of which Tanzania was one. It was ultimately incorporated into what was known as German East Africa. However, post WWI, the League of Nations stepped in and made most of Tanzania a British Mandate.
Tanzania’s evolution continued, as its eventual First President, Julius Nyerere, proved integral in helping the country to gain its independence in 1961. After a revolution that saw that the Arab Dynasty was overthrown, Tanzania then merged with Zanzibar and married the island and the mainland of Tanganyika to form the current United Republic of Tanzania on April 26, 1964.
Moshi, Tanzania can be found on the lower slopes of the mighty Mt. Kilimanjaro. This just happens to be the coffee-producing center of the country, with vast plantations blanketing the base of the highest mountain in Africa. These are the same Arabica coffee seeds that Catholic missionaries both introduced and cultivated at the end of the 19th century. In the 1920s, then-district commissioner, Sir Charles Dundas, created the Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union (K.N.C.U.) in an effort to ensure that Chagga coffee growers were able to compete with European growers on equal terms in the world market.
Both the Chagga and Massai tribes consider Moshi to be their home. There is a pride about this land because of its initial pioneering endeavors. This progressive town has universal primary education, and consequently, the highest rate of literacy in the vicinity. This was set in place thanks largely to the government, local authorities, and missions of both the Catholic and Lutheran denominations. The tradition of excellence continues, as Moshi serves as home to a number of facilities dedicated to higher education.
The main hospital serving the area, is the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College. This facility was originally opened by the Good Samaritan Foundation in March of 1971 and accomodates an astounding population of over 11 million people at its sprawling complex. Another example of the dedication to improvement that the town of Moshi embraces is the fact that it is often considered the cleanest town in all of East Africa.
Moshi also stands apart in the respect of agriculture. Coffee is, by far, the most widely-produced staple in the area. However, at a lower altitude and with fewer rains, Moshi is not as viable an option for this crop (or bananas), as are the higher elevations. At this level, adaptation was necessary for survival. On the outskirts of the town, land is reserved for extensive farms of both maize and beans that is grown annually, during the rainy season.
Moshi, Tanzania lies at the base of a volcano. Like that powerful force of nature that purges itself and, in the process, lays new ground, so does the trailblazing town that rests beneath. Out of oppression and conflict was born heroes and advancement. Whether it is the sheer, breathtaking beauty of this land that calls to you or the enticing prospect of somehow being involved with a community that seems to have sworn allegiance to Progress, this place does seem to possess the quality of a siren’s call to those who don’t turn a deaf ear. Moshi, Tanzania is an example to be emulated; a beacon of light in an area of the world too often renowned for its darkness. Contact Sister Cities International where you can help make a difference.