Mikindani – History, Location, Economy, Geography and More

Mikindani – History, Location, Economy, Geography and More

Mikindani is an ancient Swahili coastal city in Mtwara Region, Tanzania. In fact, the Mikindani name was derived from mikinda, which means ” immature coconut tree” in Swahili. In ancient Swahili dialect, the phrase “Mikindani” clearly translates ” a location with immature coconut trees.” The Mtwara Mikindani Municipal Council controls Mikindani, which is an area of the town of Mtwara. The historic site of Old Mikindani is designated as a state historical landmark.

Mikindani bay - a view of the coast
Mikindani bay – a view of the coast

History of Mikindani

To date, Mikindani is a historic Swahili harbor in southern Tanzania that served as a trading hub throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. During the ninth century AD, Arab traders came to join the native population [the Makonde natives]. Around the time of Seyyid Said’s ruling in the 19th century, another migration of Arabs occurred, and tombs and mosques from this era could still be seen.

Trade in the area’s natural resources, sisal, oilseed, rubber, and coconuts, expanded during German colonial leadership towards the end of 19 century. Many places like boma[fort], a prison, a dock, and a slave market were built in the community. The prison was partially destroyed, especially during WWI, and what was left was converted into a custom building. Mikindani continued to be an essential administrative post and enchanted a sizable amount of Indian people after the British landed. Almost at the end of WWI [presently there is an Indian temple] until 1947, when the British authorities established the port in neighboring Mtwara for supplying peanuts grown as part of the notorious Tanganyika groundnut strategy.

Mikindani’s priority changed back to fishing and farming as the center for trade and governance moved to Mtwara. The town’s collapse was accelerated by the Tanzanian government‘s rush nationalizations, which pushed out the majority of Indian and Arab immigrants, leaving the city a stunning wreck stuck in time. The area stayed relatively undiscovered due to:

  •  its proximity to Mozambique’s northern border.
  •  An absence of transportation road to Dar es Salaam was still under development.
  •  It was off-limits to travelers throughout the Mozambican Civil War, which lasted from 1977 to 1994.

This same place is home to ‘Livingstone House,’ which gets its name from the fact that it is thought to have been the starting place for Livingstone’s last mission. Livingstone was never housed in this building, which was built after he had left. Furthermore, it’s possible that Livingstone’s last departure point was at Pemba, on the northern side of the lagoon’s mouth, rather than this location in the heart of Mikindani.

Livingstone House in Mikindani
Livingstone House in Mikindani

Mikindani’s finances began to crumble once the local government offices were relocated to Mtwara in 1947. However, since the late 1990s, when the boma was renovated into a hotel, the town has seen an improvement in income and prosperity.

Mikindani is now a magnificent ancient town with twisting alleyways and an intriguing blend of native and Arabic-influenced construction, including sculpted doors, thick coral stone walls, and roofed terraces. The city still has Arab buildings from the 17th century, while the majority of the structures were built in the ancient Swahili architecture style during the first part of the 20th century. This has a modest range of accommodation, taverns, and eateries, as well as a Yacht club that was recently established. This is even becoming famous as one of Tanzania’s unrecognized diving spots.

Geography of Mikindani

Mikindani city is situated on the gently slanting hills of Mikindani Harbour’s southern coast, a small, roughly heart-shaped organic port off Mikindani Harbor. Litingi is a tiny collection of residences [and a vacation complex] located on the south side of the harbor mouth. Pemba is a little town on the other side of the mouth. On the seaside of the bay, you can find salt pans just past the mouth.

Economy of Mikindani

The town is roughly 10 kilometers from Mtwara on the principal Mtwara-Lindi route. The primary economic activity of Mikindani is trade, which employs 84 percent of the older population, followed by small-scale agriculture, which employs 12.4% of the population.

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