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Olduvai Gorge - Britannica
Olduvai Gorge - Wikipedia
Tanzania - History
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When you consider that mankind's birthplace may have been
centered somewhere in northern Tanzania it's evident that there is a long human history
there. Archaeologists have discovered
the fossils of several types of manlike creatures called Australopithecine's
in the Olduvai Gorge just North West of Mount Kilimanjaro. Scientists believe these
creatures lived as long as 4 million years ago.
Tanzania's first mainland inhabitants had established
themselves as early as 3000 to 5000 years ago. It's safe to assume that the inhabitants
were there prior to the above dates, since knowledge of the inhabitants comes mainly from
remnants of ancient Stone Age sites that have been researched. What researchers do
know is that these early settlers were hunters and gatherers who spoke Khoisan. Around
1000 B.C. people speaking the Cushitic language began to settle from Ethiopia and Somalia.
These people brought cattle and knowledge of stone tools and settled in the Northern
Bantu speaking people began migrating into Tanzania around 500
AD, possibly from West Africa. These people were farmers of vegetables, millet and sorghum
and brought with them iron implements. New arrivals such as the Maasai possibly took place
around the 12th and 18th centuries.
During the early 1500's the Portuguese established settlements in
the area but were later forced out. The first Europeans to enter into mainland Tanzania
were Germans Johann Krapf and Johannes Rebmann. The town of Tabora in central Tanzania
became an important centre for the early European traders and entrepreneurs. The German
Colonization Society, represented by Dr Karl Peters made treaties in 1884 with African
chiefs for their lands. Many chiefs were made to believe they were signing for German
protection. The treaties were approved by Bismark, who headed up the German government,
and who at the time considered these Tanzanian territories as German protectorates. In
1885 British and German delegates met to divide up Tanzania as follows. The Sultan of
Zanzibar Seyyid Said was given the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba, Mafia and Lamu in Kenya as
well as a strip of coast which extended from Mozambique in the south to certain towns in
Somalia, (Islam in Tanzania).
Germany took control of a major portion of what is now known as Tanzania. Britain took
over what is now Kenya.
One of the more powerful tribes at the time were the
Mkwawa was instrumental in controlling the ivory trade and as the Hehe began to expand
their territory they raided people who were under German protection. Germany felt that
Chief Mkwawa would have to be dealt with. In 1891 Hehe warriors attacked the German unit
killing the commander and many others but at a great cost. This led to many retaliatory
attacks by the Germans when in 1894 a surprise attack by the Germans decimated the
Legend has it that in June 1898, on the run, Chief Mkwawa built a fire and shot himself
above it. Supposedly he left one of his men to report his location to the Germans who
later brought his skull back to Germany. Another major rebellion was the Maji Maji
rebellion which ended in 1907. The rebellion consisted of many local tribes uniting. These
people believed by drinking a sacred water, (maji) they would have the strength to repel
bullets. Their loses to the German artillery were tremendous but the rebellion was
significant because it showed the strength which African unity could achieve.
Germany finally lost control of German East Africa in 1917
to the British forces and under British rule the country was renamed Tanganyika. in July
1922 it was declared a mandated territory under the League of Nations. All Germans were
expelled from the country. In 1925 Germans were allowed to return and along with Greeks
they made up the largest numbers of European immigrants. In 1931 Asian immigrants from
India became a large group also. After World War II Tanganyika focused more on it's
strengths in food production and sought to become more self-sufficient independence was
finally granted on December 9, 1961.
Tanzania - People
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The population of Tanzania consists of
about 120 ethnic groups, primarily of Bantu speaking origin. Approximately twelve of these
groups make up half of the population of 26 million. Unlike some African countries no
single ethnic group dominates in terms of size or political influence and therefore
conflict between cultures is low. The majority of Tanzania's people are made up of two
general indigenous groups, which consist of those speaking Bantu and those speaking
Nilotic. Bantu speaking people tend to be involved in agriculture and food production. The
Nilotic speaking people whom originate from the Nile Valley tend to be involved mainly in
cattle raising. The remaining 2% of the population is made up of Europeans, Asians and
Arabs who generally live in the urban centers.
The country's main spoken language is Kiswahili, which comes
from Bantu origin but has been influenced by Arabic, Portuguese and English. Over 95% of
the population speaks Kiswahili and this is another contributing factor to the regions
Some of the major ethnic groups within Tanzania are:
Sukuma - Largest group speak Bantu
Makonde - Bantu
Chagga - Bantu Speaking
Haya - Bantu Speaking
Nyamwezi - Bantu Speaking
Ha - Bantu speaking
Hehe - Bantu Speaking
Maasai - Nilotic Speaking
Iraqw - Cushitic Speaking
Sandawe & Hadzapi - Khoisan Speaking
Flora and Fauna
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The lower slopes of the mountain are heavily cultivated, in particular those to the
south which receive plenty of rainfall. Elsewhere lower rainfall coupled with the porosity
of the lava soils makes the conditions less suitable for cultivation. The forest belt
which completely encircles the mountain and extends from about 1800m. to 2900m. provides
the best conditions for plant life. Above the forest belt the porous soils and lower
rainfall result in much sparser vegetation with semi-desert conditions prevailing above
The cultivated belt contains small holdings (shambas) where bananas and various vegetables
are grown. The area is also suitable for coffee and there are several major plantations.
The southern, wetter forests contain camphor, podocarpus, fig and other trees; lush
undergrowth contains many giant ferns and Unseal (old man's beard) drapes everything.
Vines, mimilopsis and a multitude of flowers can be found in the valley and in clearer
areas. The northern, drier forests contain podocarpus, junipers and olives. In contrast to
Mount Kenya few large animals are found in this zone, though Colobus and blue monkeys are
very shy. Many colorful birds are found here, the most noticeable being the Hornbill and
the Turaco with its dark red wing markings.
The forests end abruptly without a bamboo zone as found on most other East African
mountains. Above, the rapidly thinning giant heather zone leads to the upper moorlands;
here the giant groundsles and lobelias peculiar to high altitude tropical mountain zones
can be found. There are few animals other than rodents though leopard spoor can often be
seen. Eagles and buzzards soar high above and smaller birds such as the alpine chat and
streaky seed eater can also be seen. In the higher moorland and alpine zones only few
tufts of grass, mosses and lichen are found, together with occasional flowers such as the
everlasting helichrysums and senecios.
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In order to understand the main forces that have helped build Mount Kilimanjaro we must
first have an understanding of Plate
Tectonics , [Plate Tectonics Site]
. This is the theory that the Earth's crust is divided into
a series of vast, plate like parts that move or drift as distinct land masses.
These Plates can be colliding, which is called a Destructive
Margin or moving apart, known as Constructive Margins.
Sideways movements can be found along the San Andreas fault in California. Where they collide
one plate moves under the other. This is similar to having two sheets of paper on a flat
surface and slowly moving the edges closer together at first they buckle and then one
slides under the other.
Where the Plates spread apart we get rifts or cracks in the
Earth. The Mid Atlantic has a very old Constructive Margin which has created the Atlantic
ocean and which continues to spread today.
Around 25 million years ago another Constructive Margin was
created in East
Africa we know it today as the Great Rift Valley. Just before that time East Africa
was a great plain and it is believed the collision of the African and the Eurasian
plate resulted in the rupture. As the plates "rebounded" the resulting rift
caused weaknesses in the Earth which led to the formation of the many volcanoes in the
region. One such volcano is Mount Kilimanjaro.
Mount Kenya is also a volcano and at
one time it was higher then Mount Kilimanjaro. Since Mount Kenya is older it has been
eroded by the elements and now Mt. Kenya is the second highest mountain in Africa, it sits
on the equator at an elevation of 5199m (17,058ft.).
"The formation of the Rift Valley is in geological
terms still continuing. It is, surprisingly, slowly widening and eastern Africa may, in
millions of years time, split off to form a new continent. The original violent crack that
caused the Rift naturally weakened the earth's crust most where the valley was deepest. It
is, therefore, in this area and radiating from this main valley that other major volcanic
activity produced numerous volcanic formations." The greatest of these volcanoes is
The formation of Kilimanjaro started 750,000 years ago, when it
consisted of three large vents: Shira, Kibo and Mawenzi. Over thousands of years Shira
eventually collapsed, becoming extinct; Mawenzi remained active a while longer but
eventually also became extinct and began to erode; Kibo continued with massive eruptions
around 360,000 years ago that released black lava over the Shira caldera, creating the
area known today as the Saddle, at the base of Mawenzi. Kibo finally reached a height of
5,900 m and erosion helped create the tall jagged peaks of Mawenzi and Shira's plateau.
Kibo meanwhile leveled out and was covered during the ages with ice and glaciers. Around
100,000 years ago a huge landslide created the Kibo barranco ( a steep- walled ravine).
Kibo's final eruption created the Ash Pit, the Inner Crater and the perfectly formed
At one stage most of the summit of Kilimanjaro was covered by an ice cap, probably more
than 100 meters deep. Glaciers extended well down the mountain forming morain rides,
clearly visible now on the southern flanks down to about 4000m. At present only a small
fraction of the glacial cover remains. The remnants of the ice cap can be seen as the
spectacular ice cliffs of the Northern and Eastern Icefields, and the longest glaciers are
found on the precipitous southern and southwestern flanks. If the present rate of
recession continues the majority go the glaciers on Kilimanjaro could vanish altogether in
the next 50 years.
Links Associated With This Topic
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Geology On The Web
World - "Kilimanjaro is a giant stratovolcano....." Plenty of
information on volcano's
Volcano's Online Extensive
resource on volcanoes and plate tectonics produced by students as an educational
reference. Includes database, comics, and links.
Great Rift Valley
Discusses some of the forces, such as plate tectonics which have influenced the
creation of this incredible structure.
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