Kilwa Kilwa
MAFIA & KILWA

KILWA INFORMATION - RUINS OF A GOLDEN AGE

Around 300km South of Dar es sallam,Kilwa is confusingly, not one but three places:Kilwa Masoko,Kilwa Kiswani and Kilwa Kivinje.Kilwa Kiswani,an island inhabited since the ninth century, till now bears the evidence of a great Swahili civilization;Kilwa Kivinje is a running down fishing town where you can see crumbling German colonial buildings, Oman ruins and un necessary large Spiders;Kilwa Masoko is where all the accommodation is at the present, along with the a couple of beautiful beaches.Beatiful beaches come as standard issue along this part of the coast.

Kilwa Kisiwani may be miles off the usually tourist Rader, but it lures visitors away from the beaten track by means of one of the most impressive collection of ruins in sub-Saharan Africa. In a climate where buildings just 100 years old can look 10 times older, the UNESCO listed ruins are amazingly well preserved. They date from distant time when this small Island was the center of vigorous trade in Gold, Silver and Ivory. Back in 1332, Abdallah ibn Batuta, a seasoned traveler who clocked up more miles that Marco Polo. Visited Kilwa and described it as one of the most beautiful cities in the World .A long and occasionally grisly history-low points include the Portuguese invasions 1505 and an attack by the cannibalistic Zimba tribe in 1587-has wipe the city from the earth, but Kilwa is still beautiful. In the cemetery, where the remains of kilwan notaries lie under elaborate tombs, bright red Petals are scattered among the graves like confetti from a recent wedding. The ruins of the Husini kubwa, once the largest stone structure in Sub-Saharan Africa, glow in the bottle afternoon light, and the view out to the main land is Spectacular. This is just tip of the architectural iceberg: You can return several times to Kilwa Kiswani and still find new to explore.

The Domes and the arches of the great Mosque, for example, or the coral walls of the Makutani Place. Its that kind of the place, so far untouched by mass tourism.Kilwa is made all the more special by the feeling that its there for ones eyes to only. Most of the ruins were built during the town’s golden age which listed from the twelfth centaury until the late 1400s. At the pack of the Kilwa’s success, it becomes one of of the first places in sub-Saharan Africa to mint its own coins. Long before the invasion of the bureau de change. These coins were used as far a field as Greater Zimbabwe but Kilwa’s prosperity suffered a decisive blow with the arrival of the Portuguese, who were blundering about the region inventing colonialism at the time. They were gone 20 years later, chased off Kilwa by Mercenary army, but the damage had already been done.Nothing much else happened here until the slave trade swept through in the eighteen centaury and caused a brief renaissance.

A few miles away, the ruins of songo Mnara Island come a every close second to those of Kilwa Kisiwani Again the only way to reach there is by boat. Songo Mnara is endearly surreal, and the island’s otherworldliness only intensified as you approaching the ruins The path to the ruins winds through palm trees and tunnel-like mangrove swamps.

The swamps are inhabited by bright purple and tiny fish that can breathe both in water and air. it felt like being in the an enchanted forest-all the more so when you emerged into a grove of palms and baobabs and you can be able to see the elegantly wasted buildings that are the only sings of Songo Minarat manara’s rich past. Minarets, towers and arches have crumble into a crazy geometry of fallen domes and steps leading to nowhere.

The tower after which the Songo Mnara is named was once a lighthouse. The guide book disagrees, explaining that the tower was a part of the Mosque. Like light fallen into water, in Songo Mnara facts sit askew. Part of its charm is the mystery surrounding its beginning, its end, what exactly it was!!

Kilwa Kivinje less stunning, but still worth a brief visist,it’s a quiet town bordering on comantose.Archtects and Historians who know to interpret Kivinje’s few remaining old buildings might make something of this place, and allow others to see its beauties, but to others eye its little more than run down town. Those who are interested in the history of Kilwa could do worse than spend an hour or two wondering around Kivinje and checking out the remains of the German colonial period. This was the site of the Maji Maji uprising, when a charismatic misguided witch doctor persuaded the people of his village to rise up against the Germans with the protection of water (maji in Swahili) from spring. That he swore would make them invulnerable to bullets. But his promises were empty, and the rebellion was brutally quelled.

WHERE TO STAY:
The only hotels are in Kilwa Masoko on the mainland.Kilwa Lodge is right on the beach and offers diving and fishing trips as well as visits the ruins. Sea View Lodge on the cliffs facing out towards the islands. Offers self-contained makuti-thatced bandas.offers diving and fishing trips as well as visits to ruins.

HOW TO GET THERE:
Coastal Aviation flies to Kilwa daily via Mafia. By road from and to Dar es sallam.

ACTIVITES:
Visits to Historical sites, Caves, Snorkeling, Diving, Dhow sailing, Deep Sea Fishing or Simple relaxing at the beach.