Tanga and Toten Island

Tanga and Toten Island

Tanga meaning ‘Sail’ in Kiswahili, and is the third largest town and second busiest port of Tanzania. In the mid 19th century Tanga was established in the ivory trade and sufficiently profitable to be governed by an agent of the Sultan of Zanzibar. When the Sultan leased the costal strip to Germany in 1887, few predicted that Tanga would rise to its modern prominence. When the Germans realized the limitations of the shallow harbour at Bagamoyo, they relocated their administration to the deep and well protected natural harbour at Tanga. Thus did Tanga become Germany’s IPSO FACTO East African Capital until 1891. The first school in German East Africa was built in 1893 and the first hospital built by the Germans in 1890’s is the rundown and partially disused Cliff Block in Tanga. In 1914, Tanga was the setting of a tragically farcical British Naval raid where 800 British troops died. The Germans were eventually forced out of Tanga in 1916, when the British launched a land offensive from Moshi.

There are two important World War 1 cemeteries, the Sakarani and the Commonwealth War cemetery. Tanga also boasts the Usambara Courthouse. The Old German Boma, complete with underground bunkers and passages to the sea. A Library built during the British colonial era, the original Clock Tower dating to 1901 and the Katani Building as well as the lead Memorial Hall both dating to the early 1950’s. The local tribe is Digo.

In and Around Tanga:
Town and Toten Island Tour: After a town tour visiting these historical sites, we recommend a trip to Toten Island, which any visitor to the area should not miss. Embarking on a motorised boat near the harbour, we plough across the harbour to the island; where there are relics of early Islamic settlements. The ruins of the large mosque probably established in the 14th or 15th Century and also a German War cemetery. Notable features of the Mosque are an east-facing balcony, a staircase to the roof, a well-preserved ornamental Mihrab. The island also has a cemetery with inscribed Islamic tombs. A visit to the German War cemetery on the island ends this tour.