In Summary
  • The next morning, we ask for direction to Livingstone’s house and drive along roads lined with humongous mango trees that grew along the slave routes.
  • Parts of Tabora are single-storeyed mabati quarters with swaying palms reminiscent of old Arab neighbourhoods.
  • The Tabora of the 1920s to 1960s has a rich Indian presence, with double-storeyed family homes complete with year and name on the facades, and the Sikh Temple dated 1927.
  • They became property of the state during Nyerere’s socialist regime.

Tabora, which is a town that has always intrigued me, is 650 kilometres west of Arusha.

David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley, the hard-wired calculating British-born American journalist spent five months at Kazeh near Tabora in 1872.

We arrive at midnight and despite the hour, we’re warmly welcomed at Orion Tabora Hotel. 

Built somewhere between 1900 and 1914 by the German colonialists, the hotel was called the ‘Kaiserhof’. It was to be the guest house for the kaiser (king) and barons when they came to visit Tabora. Unfortunately, with the outbreak of WWI, the king never came to Tanganyika.

Meanwhile, the Belgium army in next door Congo marched into Tabora and the earliest image of the hotel so far, was taken in 1916 when the army entered town.

The next morning, we ask for direction to Livingstone’s house and drive along roads lined with humongous mango trees that grew along the slave routes. Parts of Tabora are single-storeyed mabati quarters with swaying palms reminiscent of old Arab neighbourhoods.

The Tabora of the 1920s to 1960s has a rich Indian presence, with double-storeyed family homes complete with year and name on the facades, and the Sikh Temple dated 1927. They became property of the state during Nyerere’s socialist regime.

There’s no signage leading to Livingstone’s house – and few know of it. 15 kilometres out of town, a woman points to the direction. “Livingstone came to do some work like spread the name of God,” Amina tells us in Kiswahili. Beyond that, she knows nothing else.

The village she points towards is Kazeh. The sandy path that leads to it, on a small hill along rural homesteads and ubiquitous mango trees, doesn’t see many vehicles.

Two women play bao by their hut. It’s dry everywhere except for the mango trees. Twenty minutes later, following an old man on a bicycle who introduces himself as a guide, we stop by a clutch of towering mango trees that were there in 1857 when Burton and Speke reached Ujiji on the shores of Lake Victoria, becoming the first to document it. Later, Livingstone and Stanley spent months here in 1871/72.

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