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Getting Around Dar-es-salaam

The History of Dar-es-salaam City

The History of Dar es Salaam

The Modern Dar es Salaam has developed from a small fishing village known as Mzizima. Mzizima were the trees which surrounded the coast by then. The former Mzizima village was believed to have been located on area occupied by European hospital (now Ocean road hospital) overlooking the Indian ocean, spreading to the area of Magogoni ( now kivukoni). It was Settled by of Arab traders and wazaramu native (Wamashomvi- one of the clan of the Zaramu tribe.) in the middle of 19th Century under their local leader Pazi, and others like Digalu Kibasila.

Dar es Salaam under Arabs (Sultan Seyyid)

Dar es Salaam was founded in 1862, when Sultan Seyyid Majid of Zanzibar shifted his capital from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam. Sultan purchases the land from zaramo natives for the purpose of building a house. Dar es Salaam is popularly believed to originate from the Persian- Arabic word Bandar- ul- Salaam meaning in Swahili, Bandari ya Salama.( Dari Salaam) He changed the name of Mzizima to Dari Salaam, “Dari” means the “upper roof or terrace sheltered” and “Salaam means “safe heaven/ place where someone could rest in peace”, due to the truth that he found the place very safe and he took it without bloodshed.

The political and administrative history of the country starts in Dar es Salaam when Kaiser Wilheim of Germany started friendly negotiations with Sultan Seyyid Barghash for the Germany to take control of the East African coast follows with the explorer or spy Karl Peters who manage to sign trick contracts with local chiefs to allow Germany use the port. Later Sultan Seyyid Barghash accepted to give the Germany a good place in the port of Dar es Salaam for German naval ships, but the dominance of the port extends inward the town.

Dar-es-salaam City locationn

Dar es Salaam under the Germans

In 1887 the Germans colonialists took control of German East African after the partition of Africa in 1885 during the Berlin Conference. The Germans government transferred its capital to Dar es Salaam from Bagamoyo due to the truth that the Dar es Salaam port had deep berth with good harbor compared to Bagamoyo which was shallow, as a result Dar es Salaam become the administrative and trade centre of Germans. Soon after Germans took Dar es Salaam from the Arabs, Swahili rulers known as “Wandewa” and natives started construction of residential buildings which some are present up to date and the indigenous zaramu people became workers.

In 1888, Arabs under the leadership of Bushiri revolted and started to fight against the Germans, the main purpose of Bushiri revolt was to snatch the slaves who were evacuated from slave trade merchants and kept at Lutheran and Saint Benedict missions which were stationed at Pugu. Later Pugu mission was captured by the Arabs, the fathers and sisters were hijacked and killed. After realizing that the Germany East Africa Company alone cannot counter the Arabs attacks, in 1890 the German government agreed to compensate four million deutschemark to the Sultan of Zanzibar, for the Germany to control ten miles coastal area of East Africa which was then under the sultan.

In 1891, the first Germany governor arrived in Dar es Salaam while the construction of the state house was not completed, when the first German governor arrived he drafted the laws in which the city should have a master plan which shows buildings and future plan for the expansion of the city. From 1893 to 1896 Dar es Salaam went at a snail pace due to the resistance encountered by local inhabitants.

The Germany government planned to construct Dar es Salaam as the commercial town, hence infrastructure to facilitate business was emphasized from up country up to the port of Dar es Salaam and distribution of water within the town started, and good numbers of wells were constructed by Germany drilling experts.

The Central railway from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma was constructed and the port was expanded for easy trade and movement of labour. People were brought from hinterland to work and these were the ones who settled in town.

Apart from government buildings Asians constructed many building within the city centre The rich indigenous people (Mamwinyi) stayed in Mzimuni ( now Magomeni) who were the major slave owners, exchanging ivory with slaves. Indigenous people preferred to be employed by the Germans while the Asians undertook commercial activities.

Construction of the Central railway to a great extent boosted the growth of Dar es Salaam and flourishing of German colonialism. However during the construction of the Central railway Maji Maji War erupted in 1905 and spread all over east and south areas of German colony. Kibasila leader of zaramu people who was living at Kisangire in Manerumango led the group to fight but defeated and committed suicide at Kamata area Dar es Salaam. Kamata area became famous as a slaughter place for people who committed mistakes. When construction of Central railway reached Kigoma the WW1 erupted, the war disrupted construction of Dar es Salaam town as a result the Dar es Salaam town was bombed and captured by British in 1916 and the Germans were defeated. State house was badly bombed and the governor escaped to Tabora Region.

Dar-es-salaam area Map

Dar es Salaam under the British Protectorate

The League of Nation gave British to govern German East African and the port of Dar es Salaam and the British changed the name of German East Africa to Tanganyika.

In 1919 first British governor Sir Horace Byatt arrived in Dar es Salaam, the British continued to use Dar es Salaam as the town for British colonial government because of good port, security and the social-economic infrastructure like buildings, hospitals, offices, roads, which were left during the Germany rule. British colonial government reconstructed state house in 1922 which was badly damaged during the WWI where first governor Sir Horace Byatt stayed. The bombs also destroyed many buildings

located at the corner of Jamhuri Street and Maktaba street where Mafuta house is located at present.

Dar es Salaam town believed to grew from the port west side and south west on the side of railway stations where railway company constructed houses for its staff, On the western side there were Indians houses popularly known as “Uhindini” in which Asians preferred to stay, where many shops, mosque, schools, social clubs were located. Due to influx of people of Asian origin from Azikiwe/ Maktaba Street up to Upanga road, they decided to invest more in skyscrapers construction due to scarcity of land at the city centre. Racial segregation was rampant which led to the rich people constructed their houses along Msimbazi riverside the area where Msimbazi river enter the Indian ocean near Salender Bridge name given in honour of first Director of works Mr. selander. That place was called “Uzunguni”.


Southern part was known as Uswahilini, residential area for indigenous people zaramo, with houses constructed with clay soil and roofed with coconut leaves. In the centre of uswahilini area there was a big market constructed of aluminum sheets to commemorate the first anniversary of Kaiser Wilheim of Germany now Kariakoo market complex. South of kariakoo another town developed known as Ilala in memory of village in Zambia where Dr. Livingstone died in 1873 . The British put more emphasis on developing Dar es salaam and expanding services like transport network, health services, water distribution. All wells in Dar es Salaam were served with
pipe water. Education was also emphasized to support the initiatives of the Catholics and Protestants who had many schools during the 19thC. The first primary school was Uhuru (kichwele primary schools) then secondary schools came in like Forodhani, Kibasila, Tambaza and Zanaki.


Dar es Salaam transport started then by use of rickshaws and horse drawn vehicles with very few taxis, then later town bus services came. In 1946, Tanganyika became a United Nations Trust Territory and British had a responsibility of preparing Tanganyika for independence. And in 1949 Dar es salaam Municipal was established
under the leadership of first Mayor P. Everett who was responsible for foreseeing the welfare of city people and town, Municipal rehabilitated roads and buildings like high court, city hall secretariat building etc. Missionaries also rehabilitate their buildings along Sokoine drive including the two churches of Azania Front & St. Joseph church.


In 1954 the Africans formed the political party known as the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) to fight for the African rights led by Mwalimu J. K. Nyerere.


Dar es Salaam after Independence

In Dec, 1961 Tanganyika attained its independence under TANU from the British, with a unifying language of Kiswahili. Same year 1961 Dar es Salaam gains its City status and the next year 1962 Mwl. J. K. Nyerere was elected as the first President. The British granted colonial government to Sultan of Zanzibar in 1963. Then the Africans and Shiraz from Zanzibar joined together to eliminate the Sultan in 1964 and succeeded i.e Zanzibar Revolution. Later Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined together and form the United Republic of Tanzania under the leadership of the late Mwalimu J. K. Nyerere.

Most of the Dar es Salaam places, streets, roads carry historic memory towards specific events or honored leaders who helped Mwl. Nyerere. For instance, Rama Mwinshehe name was given to Morogoro road, Idd Tulio (Kongo street), John Rupia ( Kariakoo area) Mshumi Kiate, Bibi Titi Mohamed, Sokoine drive ( second prime minister Edward M. Sokoine) and others.

The Mnazi mmoja area carried a very significant role and historic value of the City and country in particular. During colonial period Mnazi mmoja used to separate the Indians who stayed East from the African and Arabs who stayed west. The first TANU meeting held in Mnazi mmoja in 1954, Uhuru Torch in 1961 and Mashujaa Momentum in 1969 all commemorated in that area, Arusha Declaration was first announced there in 1967, Moreover in 1952 a Greek, George Anautoglu was allowed to built an entertainment hall for the residents of Dar es Salaam. The clock tower close to Mnazi mmoja built by Dar es Salaam residents to commemorated the City status in 1961.

Dar-es-salaam after Independence


The city of Dar es Salaam has recorded a significant development since its independence and become the commercial city of the country. Its contributing highly to the internal government revenue and fast paced with liberalization of trade many developers encouraged to invest due to political stability, its geographical position, investment incentives and guarantee, all these make Dar es Salaam an investment centre.


Dar es Salaam is the chief industrial and commercial centre of the country, It lies between 6 and 7 degrees South of the equator, on east of the Indian Ocean coastline. The City’s temperature ranges between 17 centrigrades to 33. humidity is high up to 100%, the city receive annual rainfall of between 1000 and 1400 mm per annum, the wet season is usually between March to May. Though there are high variations of rain. Dar es Salaam, one of the East African big cities with approximately population of 4.3 million people (2012) covers an area of 1800 sq.kms. Mainland being 1350 sq.kms and 450 water (islands)


Hot…and sometimes very wet. Dar es Salaam being just below the equator would almost always be described as hot. An average temperatures of 26 degrees centigrade and average annual rainfall of 1000mm is absolutely perfect weather anytime of the year – except rainy season (March – June) – to spend a day at one of the local islands or beaches. Be assured that the heat of the day is always replaced by welcomed evening breezes enjoyed best on one of the many outdoor terraces and open-air pubs, bars and international restaurants.


  1.     Animal zoos
  2.     Cultural Arts and Traditions
  3.     Amusement and Water parks
  4.     Shopping, Entertainment and Social life
  5.     Beaches, Waterfronts and Islands
  6.     Public spaces, Garden and Sports
  7.     Historical and Heritage building and sites.
  8.     Tourism Events
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