Dar es Salaam, the name of the city is popularly believed to mean “the Harbour or Haven of Peace” that comes from Persian Arabic “Bandar-ul-Salaam”. It was originally chosen by the city’s founder Seyyid Majjid, the Sultan of Zanzibar in 1862. However, it was not until the period between 1865 and 1866 that building got underway with construction of many of the buildings that are found on Sokoine Drive.
After Sultan Majjid’s death in 1870, his successor, Seyyid Barghash turned his mind away from his brother’s ideas of building Dar es Salaam and maintained his court on Zanzibar. This led to the abandoning of construction and town planning projects set forth by Seyyid Majjid.
It was not until the coming of the German East African Company in 1887 that set in motion what became to be known as the city’s formative years. The construction of a road for wheeled traffic from Dar to Lake Nyasa in 1881 had progressed 83 miles southwest of the city, and by 1885 the Germans had made up their minds to use the port of Dar es Salaam as a gateway for taking over and exploiting the interior of Tanganyika in a more purposeful way. By that time the population had increased from 900 (1860) to 5,000.
In 1891 when the German Government took over the administration of the city from the German East Africa Company, it selected Dar es Salaam as the seat of administration, main port, commercial and communications center for German East Africa. This led to the separation of Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.
The British occupation of Dar es Salaam in 1916 turned to develop the town not only as the seat of the government but as a capital city, administratively, economically and culturally. The growth and development of the town led to be granted the status of “municipality” in 1949 and that of a city n 1961 at the attainment of the country’s independence. The colonial past which divided the city in social and economic divisions based primarily on race, religion and education, gave way to a cosmopolitan nature after independence.<a
In its layout and architectural diversity Dar es Salaam has betrayed its historical past as most of the buildings now constructed are soaring up and rapidly exhausting the open spaces. There have been several attempts at re-planning the city but positive results have been difficult to achieve due to the rapid increase in the city’s population which stands 3.2 million (2009). It is recommended that the present city centre be retained with some modifications, but no drastic transformation as the cultural, commercial and political kernel of Tanzania.
The Askari monument is no doubt the City’s most striking monument. Its predecessor, the statue of Major Herman von Weissmann, which was unveiled with great pomp in 1911, was Dar es Salaam’s first public monument. The surroundings – then Acacia Avenue and Ingles Street – of this monument were a veritable jungle of palms and mango trees, today – Samora Avenue and Azikiwe Street – is dominated by some of the City’s best buildings.
Major Weissmann, a German explorer and soldier, was appointed commissioner and he first arrived on 1st March 1889 where he settled at Bagamoyo, from where he led the suppression of the resistance of 1888-1889. He was elevated to the post of Governor of German East Africa in 1895 and after being attracted by Dar’s natural harbour and the armory store in various places in the city, Von Weissmann decided to transfer the headquarters of German East Africa from Bagamoyo to Dar es Salaam. However, his statue was removed in 1916 by the British after the defeat of the Germans in World War 1. In its place, the present Askari Monument was erected by the British and unveiled in November 1927 “to the memory of the native African troops who fought; to the carriers who were the feet and hands of the army; and to all other men who served and died for their King and Country in Eastern Africa in the Great War 1914 – 1918.” Thus reads the English inscription on it while a plaque on the opposite side bears Kiswahili and Arabic translations. The statue was made in fine bronze by a London sculptor named James Alexander Stevenson – who signed himself as “Myrander” it was casted by Morris Bronze Founders of Westminster in 1927. A famous British traveler and writer – Eric Muspratt – is said to have posed for the statue while the wording was composed by Rudyard Kipling for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission which had commissioned the monument. Before being brought to Dar es Salaam, the statue was displayed at the Royal Academy’s summer Exhibition of 1927, where it was highly praised.
‘Carrier Corps’ to Kariakoo Market
Soon after taking over the city from the Arabs in the early 19th century, the Germans set to develop it by constructing both administration and residential buildings. This not only expanded the city’s size, it also brought in people from the hinterland to work in various construction sites.
The measure necessitated the need for the town to have a market hence Dar es Salaam’s first market consisting of two market halls was built by the German Administration at the corner of market Street – from which the street derived its name (now Indira Gandhi) and Bagamoyo Street (now Morogoro Road). This site is now occupied by Textile house and NBC (1997) Kitchwele Branch. These market halls were taken over by the then newly created “Kommune” or municipal administration in 1899.
From 1912, with Dar es Salaam’s population standing at 22,500 people, the German started building a steel – frame, with a partly transparent roof for lighter market hall which later came to be known as the New Market (Soko Kuu). The hall was intended for their planned colonial exhibition to commemorate the coming into the throne of Kaiser Wilheim in Germany. The exhibition never took place as the First World War broke out and British authorities took over the governing of Tanganyika. After the war, the British converted the hall into a camp for “Carrier Corps” – military porters – which was pronounced in Kiswahili as Kariakoo, hence the name of the market and the area. However, later on after the British moved their garrison across the creek to Kurasini along what is now Kilwa Road, the hall was turned into a full-fledged market.
The decision to pull down the old Kariakoo market was taken in 1970 and construction of the present market complex started in 1971 and its foundation stone was laid by the then 1st Vice President Alhaj Abood Jumbe Mwinyi on 7th September 1973. The complex which was estimated to cost Tsh. 23.3 million by then, was put by Dar es Salaam City Council and it was planned to handle 35,000 kgs of produce from the regions per day by the time it went into operation. It was officially opened by Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere on 8th December 1975 as part of 14th Independence anniversary. It occupies a total area of 6,000 sq. meters with total floor area of 17,800 sq. meters made of three floors namely the basement, ground and the first.
Over the years, the complex which was built to cater for a population of 700,000 residents has become congested. This led to overcrowding for both traders and customers and in 1993 a big riot took place after police tried to remove hawkers from areas which they were barred from conducting their businesses.
Dar es Salaam Railway Station
The growth of most urban settlements, the world over has historically been linked with transport infrastructures. Tanzania has not been an exception to this phenomenon in general and Dar es Salaam in particular whose history cannot be told without linking it to the Central Railway line built by the Germans in early 1900’s a German company named “Deutsch Ost Afrikanische Gesellschaft – popularly known as “Usagara” was contracted to administer the only rail in Deutsch Ost Afrika – as Tanganyika was then known -, the Tanga or Norther Line as its first undertaking commencing in June 1893. The rail which was initially planned to be extended to Lake Victoria and Tabora reached Moshi where an inauguration with great pomp was carried out on 7th February 1912. However, during a conference held in 1891 in Berlin, a group of well known African explorers voted decidedly for a railway line to be built from Dar es Salaam to Lakes Victoria and Tanganyika – thus shelving initial plans to link these two lakes by the Tanga or Northern Line. This proposal to link the port of Tanga with the lakeside town of Musoma on Lake Victoria has been resurfacing on and off even now. Thanks to that conference which elevated the status of Dar es Salaam to become what it is today.
Dar es Salaam’s Railway Station is quiet an architectural master-piece. The station’s site was chosen by Phillip Holzmann and Company of Frankfurt –am-Main, who were the main contractors of the then Deutsch Ost Afrika Railway Central Line Project. It had an advantage in the sense that it was very close to the then Dar es Salaam Port whereby it was easy and cheaper to move construction materials from the port to the station through a rail line that used to pass from the port – now Malindi Wharf – through what is now Tanzania Harbours Authority’s Works Superintendents office passing under a bridge on old Kilwa Road. The construction of the station and the railway started on 9th February 1905 after a colorful ceremony graced with the presence of Prince Adalbert of Prussia who turned the first sod. When the station building was completed it was one of the most “handsome” buildings in the city and the fact that it was powered by electricity supplied by the railway company in those years made it even more attractive during the night.
After the break-up of East African Community in 1977, Tanzania Railways Corporation which took over the activities of the former East African Railways Corporation had planned to use the station as a terminus of the city’s rail passenger services which never took off. The planned route was from Ubungo Industrial area to the Railway Station, where 35,000 passengers were expected to be moved to and fro daily. During the 1980’s parcel services were transferred to Ilala Goods shed so as to make more room for passenger handling activities.
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