Paramount Chief Marealle

Name ID 1561

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Internet Web Pages
Extract Author: Nichole Smaglick (?)
Extract Date: 2000 June

The Old Man of Mt. Kilimanjaro

The Honeyguide Newsletter

The words 'Mt. Kilimanjaro' conjure up romantic images of personal growth, challenge, defeat, and success. We have seen pictures and heard stories. The climbers of the first Mt. Kilimanjaro climb in 1889 had only their courage, passion and naivet" pushing them on. When asked, 'Who was the first to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro?', the most common reply is Hans Meyer of Germany. Hans Meyer is credited with the vision behind the expedition, but who was his guide?

Yohani Kinyala Lauwo was only eighteen years old when he led Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller to the highest point of Africa on October 5th, 1889. His selection by the Mangi (Chagga chief) to be Hans Meyer's guide was accidental, but it forever changed his life. Kinyala (as he was called) was born and lived his entire life in the village of Marangu, nestled on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Before Europeans came to East Africa, many of the Lauwo clan of the Chagga tribe hunted the forest elephants for ivory and sold it to the Swahili traders from the coast. The forest also supplied them with honey, timber, medicine and Colobus monkey hides. By the time Hans Meyer arrived in Chaggaland, Kinyala Lauwo was a tall teenager who knew the forest like the back of his hand. By then, colonialism had started in Kinyala's homeland and young men were being forced to construct roads. Kinyala tried to dodge the 'draft', but was caught. As a result, he was summoned for trial at Mangi Marealli's palace. Coincidentally, Hans Meyer had just arrived at the palace asking for permission to climb the mountain and guides and porters. The Mangi's wachili (advisors) spotted Kinyala, knew that he was of the Lauwo clan, and asked him to guide the expedition.

The event led Kinyala (later called Mzee Lauwo) to guide Mt. Kilimanjaro climbs for more than seventy years! For his first climb, he was only wrapped in blankets. Over the years, he obtained appropriate clothing and hiking gear. When Mzee Lauwo turned one-hundred years old, the Tanzania National Parks gave him a beautiful, modern style house painted in light purple and pink pastels. Here he lived with his two wives until his death on May 10th, 1996, after a grand life of a one-hundred twenty-five years!

Extract ID: 5405

See also

Arusha Times
Extract Author: Valentine Marc Nkwame
Page Number: 375
Extract Date: 25 June 2005

Hans Meyer family plans homage expedition

The German professor was the first European to scale Kilimanjaro

The descendant family of Professor Hans Meyer, from Leipzig Germany, the first European to scale Mount Kilimanjaro in 1889, is planning to make homage to the late explorer at the peak of the highest mountain in Africa.

The news is widely circulating around the Kilimanjaro area where tour guides, porters and Mountain climbers are looking forward to the German family expedition. No exact dates have been mentioned for the expedition.

The expedition news has also reached the management of the historical Kibo Hotel, in West Marangu, where Prof. Hans Meyer and his crew stayed during their Pre-historic Mountain climbing expedition, which took place on the 6th of October 1889. Kibo Hotel is one of the oldest Hotels in the Northern Zone.

Julita McNeese, the current Kibo Hotel Manager, admits to have heard of the Hans Meyer's planned family expedition, adding that it was likely to take place very soon. She however said the entourage hasn't made any reservations at the Hotel yet.

A large black and white portrait of Hans Meyer hangs at the Kibo Hotel lobby, together with that of Yohana Lauwo, his first guide. The Hotel with 35 rooms, is over 120 years old now. It was first built by a German family in Association with the powerful charismatic Chagga leader, Chief (Mangi) Marealle.

Although huge mountains had been known to exist in Northern Tanzania, no one had actually traveled inland to account for it until the 1800's. Mount Kilimanjaro had been thought to be the source of River Nile and a Mountain of mystery - the mystery being a snow capped Mountain in Africa.

Africa was by then thought to be a continent of savages, thus stories about the continent were often down played. With colonization, came European missionaries, who traveled inland to preach their religion.

In 1846, Dr. Ludwig Krapf and Johann Rebmann landed at the coast of Kenya and set up a mission at Rabai, close to the town of Mombasa. In 1849, both Krapf and Rebmann confirmed their sightings of the great Mountain on their trip inland. Reports about the Mountain were received by the Royal Geographical Society, which prompted a great debate about the accuracy, about the height and possibility of snow capped mountains in Africa.

In 1861, Richard Thornton attempted the first climb. The Mountain was new to him and thus had a difficult time penetrating through the second zone. Also the weather did not cooperate, which eventually forced him down.

In 1862, Otto Kersten and Baron Von der Decken attempted the climb. They climbed over 15,000 feet but were forced down because of what was described to be the effect of bad weather.

In 1887, a German Geologist Professor and explorer, Hans Meyer attempted the climb and was successful in reaching the Kibo peak.

In 1889, Hans Meyer again, this time with an Austrian alpinist, Ludwig Purtscheller arranged an expedition to reach the summit of Kibo. It is stated that there were over 60 people in total including porters.

Meyer and Purtscheller were successful in their climb. They named the summit Kaiser Wilhem Spitze, a record that is still displayed in many maps found in Tanzania. The country is a former German colony.

Extract ID: 5075

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Fosbrooke, H.A. and Sassoon, H Archeological Remains on Kilimanjaro
Page Number: 063
Extract Date: 1900

The early Chagga have left their mark

More recently, the early Chagga have left their mark on the landscape. The trenches which were dug between the early kingdoms are difficult to discern but remains of the forts which some chiefs constructed can still be seen at Marangu and Kibosho (see an article H A. Fosbrooke "Chagga Forts and Boltholes," TNR No 37, p116; and also pictures facing pp. 72 and 92 in Sir Charles Dundas' Kilimajaro and its People).

A more interesting but less apparent relic of the days of inter tribal warfare is to be found in the bolt holes or underground shelters. (See Bishop Wynn Jones, "African Dugouts" TNR, No. 11; and article in No. 37 above.)

In the thickly populated and cultivated area of Marangu there are some engraved rocks which are associated with the Chagga initiation ceremonies. One of these rocks, at Longoro, is a large block of lava about 9 feet long, projecting six inches above ground-level; at its.broadest point it is 6 feet 9 inches wide. The rock is covered with long, meandering incised lines, evidently engraved with a pecking technique, and there are also two small kidney-shaped depressions which are clearly man-made. The rock also bears numerous pock-marks which look natural, but which, according to recent oral tradition, are man-made.

Chief Petro Marealle first drew attention to this engraved rock. In his book (1951) he describes how, until about 1900, Chagga youths used to be introduced to the mysteries of manhood. As part of his ceremony twelve youths, selected from the age set under instruction, were taught the meanings of the engravings on the rock and how to incise them. This was done, on completion of the lessons, by the instructor using a `small axe'; the length of the line cut depended on the number of youths in the age-set. The instructor also bored the pock-marks into which the youths had to spit to seal their oath not to reveal the secrets they had been taught.

Within twenty yards of the rock of Longoro, described here, there are two other engraved rocks; and there is another two miles to the north-west of the Longoro group. All these rocks have been described by Fosbrooke and Marealle in their two papers in Man, 1952, 244 and 263.

Extract ID: 4562

See also

Sadleir, Randal Tanzania, Journey to Republic
Page Number: 201a
Extract Date: 1957

Kibu Hotel

So important was Moshi in my work that I normally spent about a week every month on safari in the district. I would be based either at the KNCU Hostel or the Kibo Hotel at Marangu, a delightfully old fashioned establishment run by an elderly German, Mrs Bruehl, 20 miles or so from Moshi and 6000 feet above sea level.

Marangu was one of the most beautiful places in Tanganyika and the headquarters of the Vunjo district led by Chief (Mangi Mwitori) Petro Itosi Marealle and Paramount Chief (Mangi Mkuu) Thomas Marealle, installed in 1951, who lived in Moshi itself. It was also the centre of the tourist trade - such as it then was - and the base for climbing the mountain.

Extract ID: 4382

See also

Map and Guide to Tanzania
Page Number: 09d

The Chagga

No tribe claims any predominant role - population varies from a million Sukurna to a few hundred Sandawe or Hadzapis - but obviously some have better documented records:

The Chagga: with more than 400 clans, they are an extremely industrious Bantu people. Living on the fertile slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, they have developed remarkable irrigation systems, advanced cultivation methods on terraced fields and turned coffee plantations into profitable cash crops. They have a reputation of being modern businessmen but it is interesting to note that cultivation remains clearly divided into three categories: beans, sweet potatoes and yams are grown by women with many rituals but only men cultivate bananas and eleusine, a small seed utilized in food; maize can be grown by both sexes. One of the best known historical leaders is Paramount Chief Marealle.

Extract ID: 4042