Seventy five kilometres to the north of Dar-es-salaam, at the shores of the Indian Ocean, across the island of Zanzibar is the old colonial town of Bagamoyo. By any standards an average coastal town, Bagamoyo is literally loaded with history. The first catholic mission in east Africa is located here and five kilometres away, the Kaole ruins, dated back to the 13th century.
Besides are the ruins in the old Bagamoyo port, through which slaves from the hinterland were shipped to the clearing house in Zanzibar.
The kaole ruins, five kilometres from Bagamoyo town are a collection of graves which appear to have a Moslem background, pointing to the possibility of the early Muslim traders from Persia having suffered some sought of calamity to be buried here.
The graves have pillars which resemble those for Persian Muslims. Besides the ruins is a never drying well that has had the same level of ‘ghost water’ for centuries, in spite of being relentlessly relived of tits waters, which benefits good wishes to those who seek to take it in small plastic mineral water bottles.
Besides the ruins is a museum in which some of the excavated remains from the site have been preserved.
The Bagamoyo old fort has exchanged hands from the Arabs traders who initially used it at as last resting place for slaves from the hinterland before shipping them out, to a military base for the Germans in the nineteenth century who conquered the Arabs and added a watchtower to the fort during their altercations with the Arabs in Zanzibar.
The fort later changed hands to the British colonizers who took over from Germans, and turned it into a prison and was subsequently used by the Tanzanian government for a long time for the same purpose before it was handed over to the antiquities department as relic to be preserved.
From the roof of the old fort, the watchtower which has now been covered up, with the same materials and architectural style for purposes of preservation, the open sea in the direction of Zanzibar is visible above the trees, to lend logic to the German’s idea.
Today the seemingly old abandoned buildings are a sole obsession of tourists and curio sellers who display wooden sculptures, huge rear sea shells for those in the habit of shell collection, or beautifully carved wooden bangles which would be too much to adorn the already beautiful coastal women.
The current Bagamoyo is a tourist town, its shoe lined with hotel resorts like paradise resort hotel and palm tree resort, exchanging places regularly with the old fort like buildings which were a headquarter for this or a building for that.
The resorts are mainly themed around small grass-thatched hammocks with wood and coral reef ceilings just like in the old fort. In the inside, the rooms are made up to three sat standards, self-contained rooms with the proper perks of a hotel room.
The allure of the pristine beach adds to the serenity of Bagamoyo. By the waters, tourists strip to swimming costumes and bask in the sun, while dhows a few kilometres into the sea, seemingly stationary but moving by the power of the wind, providing the break in the vast flat ocean waters. Nearby a dhow assembling point shows, while local children perform gymnastic miracles in the water.
When the tides drive the ocean waters on to the beach, some rear golden fish are forced to the shore and as soon as they notice human interest, kick the sand to camouflage their movements.
Crabs come out of the water to dig holes in the sand and as soon as they sense the footsteps of an intruder, they raise their fangs and scamper back into the wholes in a flash.
Local fisherman fan out their seine nets and circle around a huge swath of water before dragging it slowly towards the shore vertically, catching a few different species of fish, as the unaccustomed ones rush to examine the fish with the curious eye.Among those carousing around the beach, you can tell away those who have never stepped into the salty waters.
They step into the water, one leg and a time and squeal like children whenever a wave hits their feet, try to take baby steps into the deeper water and begin to splash water on their friends. They like a baby who has realized the fun in a basin full of bathing water.