Sunday, 11 April 2010

Mwanza, the rock city with a rich history

From The East African, Nairobi, KENYA
By Leonard Magomba

Beyond the beach and safari tourism circuits of East Africa are the unexplored inland historical towns that only a few discerning travellers get to see.

One such place is Mwanza in northwestern Tanzania,on the southeastern shore of Lake Victoria.

Lacking the bustle of Dar es Salaam or the tourist hype of Arusha or Zanzibar, Mwanza is Tanzania’s second largest city after Dar es Salaam with over two million inhabitants and the economic heart of the Lake Region.

Its economic mainstay is mining, fishing and tourism, which have recently prospered.

Overlooking Africa’s largest lake, the so-called Rock City is an important crossroads in the region — with a railroad connection with Tabora, Dodoma and Dar es Salaam, a busy port with ferries to Ukerewe Island, Kamanga, Bukoba and Port Bell in Uganda and Kisumu in Kenya. It is also connected by road to Kisumu.

Recently it has grown into an economic and tourism hub. Money from fishing and mining has seen an expansion in tourist accommodation from luxury five star hotels to those offering bed and breakfast.

Mwanza’s growth can be traced back to the days of the slave trade, as the trading caravans of the Sultan of Zanzibar used it as the frontier to the unexplored African interior in search of gold, ivory and slaves.

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