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Friday, June 25, 2010

TONGONI RUINS!!!

Tongoni is a small fishing village 17km south of Tanga in Tanzania. It is famous for the 15th Century ruins of a mosque and forty tombs that are found in the village. Tongoni was a different place four to five centuries ago. Contrary to its almost unnoticed presence today, it was a prosperous and a respected trading centre during the 15th Century.

One tradition claims that Tongoni was established by the Shirazi (people of Persian-origin), who established many Islamic settlements in Eastern Africa such as Kilwa and Mafia. There are also claims that the settlement of Tongoni was once dominated by the Wadebuli tribe, believed to be of Asiatic-origin, coming from Dabhol, off the West Coast of India. Dhabol was a seaport in the 15th Century belonging to the Bahmani rulers of the Deccan. The Bahmani had extensive trading links with Kilwa, then the largest trading centre in East Africa.

Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese sailor, first visited Tongoni in April 1498. He had the opportunity to eat the local oranges, which he said were better than those available in Portugal. He made a second visit the following year, and spent fifteen days in Tongoni.

The ruins at Tongoni are under the Antiquities department. They have been properly excavated and are open to the public. A resident guide, Mr. Job Tengamaso is always available to show visitors around. A more recent ruin of a mosque (of about one hundred years) at the other end of the village, on the beach, can also be visited.

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