Name ID 2436

See also

Tanganyika Guide
Page Number: 49
Extract Date: 1953

Section III�Dodoma to Tabora

Dodoma is situated near the watershed of the Indian Ocean and the Rift Valley. The great trough of the Rift, with its salt lakes and its large and small volcanoes, intersects the East African granite-plateau from latitude 6 deg. South, and then continues northwards through the Red Sea into the valley of the Dead Sea and the River Jordan, right to the foot of the Lebanon. The Central Railway cuts this rift near its southern end and, as the train crawls up the steep western scarp, a grand view unfolds itself, and like a gigantic map the valley lies below with the glittering surface of a great salt swamp in its southernmost corner. In the vicinity of Manyoni, on the top of the scarp, is the grave of the explorer James Elton, one of the first Englishmen to cross the interior. He died in 1877. Manyoni was the junction for the Singida railway line, which has how been taken up and replaced by a road from Itigi.

From near the upper edge of the scarp to Tabora and again for a long distance west of that town, the track passes through miles of wilderness into fine agricultural country. At kilometre 634 is a stone monument indicating the highest point of the line (4,350 ft.), and at kilometre 785 in flat country comes the Continental Divide, to the west of which water flows into Lake Tanganyika and thus, through the Congo, into the Atlantic.

At last there is a welcome change from thicket and wood into the open country surrounding Tabora, and soon the town itself, surrounded by granite hills and mango groves, is reached. It is the capital of the Nyamwezi country and, as the place where one of the largest and most industrious Bantu tribes is administered, continues the part it has for long played in East African history. Founded as an Arab colony for securing the long line of communication from the coast to the great lakes, the town is full of links with the past, and the tourist can see here the old" tembe" at Kwihara where Livingstone and Stanley lived together in 1872, the pass between two hills where they parted, or again the battle grounds where first Nyamwezi chiefs and Arabs, then Germans and Belgians have fought for the possession of this country. At Tabora is situated the leading Government school for Africans in the Territory.

As Tabora is at the junction of the Mwanza Line, it is on one of the through routes from Kenya and Uganda to the Congo and Northern Rhodesia ; it is also on one of the trunk air routes to South Africa, and travellers stop the night at the spacious German-built hotel which has recently been modernised.

Extract ID: 5539

See also

nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: Victoria Brennan
Page Number: 2008 04 14

Victoria Brennan (nee Butler) Mbeya school Jan 1961-July 1963

I started at Mbeya School Jan 1961, the headmaster was Mr Morgan. I was in Stanley House and remember being able to climb the Fir trees around the sports field, the swimming pool being built, picking up litter before the Saturday evening films, the drummer annoucing mealtimes, shoe cleaning on the grass in front of the dorms, and being taken to see the Walt Disney film Sleeping Beauty in Mbeya. The huge bonfires for Guy Fawkes across the stream, and the Kite making competition and the three horned chameleons. The awful TAB injections and the fancy dress party at the end of the year. Saturday evening Scottish dancing(being wisked through the Dashing white Sargeant with Mr Morgan) and the yearly House sing competition with it English Country songs.

The school closed down July 1963 and we were incorporated into Arusha School for the last term of the year.

I was born in Mahenge and we had to pick up the bus at the Mikumi stop. There were two bus loads of children from Dar and Morogoro and we overnighted at Iringa, girls in the White Horse Inn and boys in the Railway Hotel, this was reversed on the way out, Later when the numbers had dropped we all stayed at the railway hotel. One term the bridge on the Iringa road washed away, so we were bussed up to Itigi, overnight, to catch the train. My sister Judith joined me at the end of 1961 and was the smallest person at school and we were known as Big Butler and little Butler.

I am now fascinated by the curiously dated slang that we used and never came across at any of the other boarding schools I attended. Bosch for rubbish and the use of surnames only.

Thankyou for the interesting Website. I don't recognise any names but would love to hear from anyone who was at school with me.

Extract ID: 5625

See also

Palin, Michael Pole to Pole
Page Number: 227
Extract Date: Oct 1991


I've noticed that everything in my room from the grey pillow that I didn't dare lay my head on to the mirror I don't shave in front of because there is no hot water is stencilled with a long serial number and the initials TRC" Tanzanian Railway Company. It's appropriate I suppose, for our destiny is now in their hands from here to Mpulungu in Zambia" 800 miles through the heart of Africa.

When nine years old or thereabouts . . . While looking at a map of Africa, and putting my finger on the blank space then representing the unsolved mystery of the continent, I said to myself with absolute assurance and an amazing audacity which are no longer in my character now: 'When I grow up I shall go there'.

I read this last night as mosquitoes poured through the holes in my net and, although it is Joseph Conrad's recollection of his childhood in Poland, it could as well have been an expression of my own boyhood fascination with somewhere as remote from my domestic surroundings as it seemed possible then to be. Lake Tanganyika, the second deepest lake in the world (after Lake Baikal), set in the centre of the African continent, surrounded by mountain and jungle and God knows what is, I'm sure, what I was thinking of. It's now one railway journey away.

I like Dodoma. It's not beautiful but the people are pleasant. Tanzanians don't intrude, they aren't curious or reproving or obsessive starers. They quietly go about their business, which might include selling wooden whistles outside the Parliament building.

`How much?'


`I only have 200.'

`I'll give it to you for 300.'

`I only have 200.'

`All right. 200.'

Now that's the sort of haggling I like.

I meet an Englishman, a university professor checking out Tanzania prior to some investment from the World Bank. He is in despair over the paperwork needed to get anything done here. He shakes his head in disbelief:

`They have a saying in this country that bureaucracy is like God. It's everywhere.'

The servants of God are certainly here in force. Religion seems to be the growth industry. On one of the major intersections the Indian Christians' huge domed neo-classical chateau stands next to the sweeping modern redbrick lines of the Lutheran cathedral, which in turn faces across to the squat polygonal towers and domes of the Anglican Church.

The English language Daily News has a sports headline with a familiar, almost nostalgic ring. 'Angry Fans on Rampage.' Football is popular here with a big match in prospect tonight as Black Fighters of Zanzibar take on Railways of Morogoro, whose players most likely have TRC stencilled somewhere on their bodies.

At ten minutes after midday a large metal cylinder hanging outside the office of the stationmaster at Dodoma is rung loudly, and the purveyors of nuts, eggs, bananas, dried fish, sweet potatoes, rubber sandals, fresh water, loaves of bread, toy aeroplanes and other traveller's fare edge closer to the railway track. Beginning as a distant shimmer, a diesel locomotive with a red cow-catcher and a distinctive yellow V on the front slowly materializes, bringing in the express from the port of Dar es Salaam, 280 miles to the east. It's an enormous relief to see it. This and the boat down Lake Tanganyika are two of the essential connections on the journey. Neither is easy. There is an element of uncertainty about our rights to seats on the train as none of our bookings has been confirmed, and indeed, all our compartments are occupied. Polite persuasion is not enough and we just have to move in and hope that the sight of 30 boxes of film equipment will put the skids under anyone. An emotional farewell to Kalului and Kabagire who have looked after us since the Ethiopia border. I leave Kalului my Michelin map" Africa North and East and Arabia" which I know he coveted.

The train is not in good shape. Most of the windows are broken, and that's only in First Class. There are, considerately, two types of lavatory, announced on their doors as 'High Type' (European) and 'Low Type' (non-European). Once we are under way, I approach the High Type, prepared for the worst, only to find that it is not there at all. The High Type has vanished, leaving behind only a hole in the floor.

It's seven in the evening. To the restaurant car for dinner. Hot and crowded, but there's something familiar about it. A metal manufacturer's disc by the door reads 'BREL, Derby 1980'. Of course, these battered coaches rolling across the East African bush, are exactly the same design as British Inter-City stock. They may look as if they've had it but they're 30 years younger than those which many London commuters travel in.

Chicken or fish with rice and potatoes. Run DMC rap music sounds loudly from the next door table, making it difficult to hear my dining companion who says he is a footballer with CDA Tabora. CDA stands for Capital Development Authority. Not an easy one to chant on the terraces.

We stop frequently, and I wish I hadn't eaten on the train. By the line-side is a feast of food" tables set up with chicken stews and rice and beans, all fresh from voluminous saucepans. Kebabs and live chickens and even a duck are bought and sold through the windows. At all these stops I've been aware of a persistent clicking sound. I thought it might be cicadas but now I see it is made by children who carry their wares" cigarettes maybe, or bananas" in one hand and click loose coins in the other to attract business.

Craig and Nigel have ears pressed to a radio at the window, trying, in the midst of this line-side cacophony, to pick up the sound from Edinburgh where England are playing Scotland in the Rugby Union World Cup semifinal.

Nigel suddenly turns from the radio with a look of total disbelief: `They've gone to the news! . . . They've gone to the news with two minutes left!'

As we pull away from Itigi, 105 miles beyond Dodoma, Mbego, our coach attendant, a wraith-like figure in white cap, blue tunic and trousers, appears dragging a shapeless green canvas bundle from which he extricates my bedding which he lays out with infinite care and precision. Later I see him sitting at the open door of the train gently and ruminatively stroking the head of a young man next to him.

Night falls and the electricity supply fails. To sleep reading Heart of Darkness by torchlight. Outside is Africa . . . 'its mystery, its greatness, the amazing reality of its concealed life . .

Extract ID: 5727

See also

Ondaatje, Christopher Journey to the Source of the Nile
Page Number: 130
Extract Date: 1996

We chugged and bumped along

We chugged and bumped along the dirt road through dense, brown thorn thickets, first in a southerly direction, then west. The road followed a relatively straight path very near the railway line. After the central railway leaves Dodoma, it drops down past the Bahi Swamp, then climbs the escarp-ment of the rift valley. It continues along the caravan route and through what is known as the Itigi Thicket before the land opens out into Myika country. The track finally exits the tsetse-ridden woods and slides into Tabora station.

Itigi, forty-two kilometres from Manyoni, is where Thad Peterson's missionary parents had arrived by railway in 1952, en route to the Iambi area, where Thad was later born. There are still Christian missionaries all over Tanzania as well as in Uganda and Kenya.

Outside Itigi we continued running alongside the railway. Again there was dense thorn thicket on either side of the road and occasional herdsmen, but the population was much sparser along this straight road fifteen metres from the railway track, which cut through very flat land.

Between the first gradient of the Rubeho Pass and Tabora, Burton and Speke passed through thirty-three stations. Although hardly any of the place names that Burton mentioned appeared on our maps, many were recognized by the local inhabitants. When I first read Burton's The Lake Regions of Central Africa, I was struck by the whimsical literal translations he provided for place names. I was again reminded of this when we reached Kazi Kazi, a small railway station whose name means "work-work." I was never really sure whether this name implied colonial criticism of the natives or native criticism of the colonials.

Extract ID: 5756