Kilwa

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History was never a very interesting topic for some of us as we where made to cram a lot of dates and a lot of names of people that to some didn’t really matter, for our main concern then was not to know more about our heritage but more about the games we get to play when the lunch break bell rings. I never thought a historic visit could ever be described as fun until I stepped into the land on Kilwa.Words I would use to describe the area is untouched, aesthetic, euphoric with a lot of history.

Located in the southern coast of Tanzania is the former islamic city-state of Kilwa. Divided into three Kivinje, Kisiwani and Masoko. It being a historical visit we spent a lot on Kilwa Kisiwani for its richness in History and Kilwa Masoko for that is where most hotels are located.

It was like entering a time traveling machine listening to the guide narrate the history of this empire which was once a country on its own .Its stated that from the 9th century all the way up until the 19th century, Kilwa Kisiwani was a wealthy and very powerful port, reaching its peak around the late-Middle Ages. At its climax, the empire stretched from Kenya to Mozambique, and Kilwa Kisiwani’s prosperity was crucial to the development of Swahili civilization.

During this time great structures were built by different people ranging from Persians, Indians all the way to Portuguese , all of which had interest in the port and wishing to control it by defeating their predecessors in combat. All that is now left of this once great empire are the stunning ruins(preserved and protected by UNESCO). One of the most impressive of the ruins is the Great Mosque which is the oldest standing mosque on the East African coast. This Mosque has about 16 domes supported by many arches and pillars.

Today, ‘Kilwa on the Island’ is a quiet fishing village, but in its heyday it was the centre of a vast trading network linking the old Shona kingdoms and the goldfields of Zimbabwe with Persia, India and China. While those days are now in the past, the ruins of the settlement, together with those of nearby Songo Mnara, are among the most significant groups of Swahili buildings on the East African coast and a Unesco World Heritage site.

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