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14

AramcoWorld

SWA H I L I

Kikwete’s second and final five-year term comes to a close

in October. On the outskirts, opposition Chadema party

supporters wave their blue, white and red flags from honk-

ing cars, as they attempt to stake a claim here in Kikwete’s

birthplace, 70 kilometers north of the capital, Dar es Sa-

laam. Indeed, most Bagamoyo residents support Kikwete as

a native son and, for his part, Kikwete has focused in his

final term on setting up his beloved hometown for an un-

precedented future by laying plans for a “mega-port” that

would compete with—and dwarf—not only the Tanzanian

ports in Dar es Salaam, Tanga and Mtwara, but also the

Kenyan ports of Lamu and Mombasa.

Quiet as it may seem today, Bagamoyo is no stranger to

great changes. Located within the Pwani (Coastal) District

of Tanzania, it’s a well-worn, old city, population estimated

at 30,000, that is lined with historical architecture inspired

A few kilometers southeast of Bagamoyo lies the site of East

Africa’s oldest known mosque, now-ruined Kaole, built out of

coral stone by traders who arrived in 1250

ce

from Shiraz (now

in Iran). Their commerce first linked this coast to the Arabian

Peninsula, Persia, India and China.

Its name has come from the Arabic

sahil,

or coast, and today the Swahili

language is a fusion of Arabic and

Bantu that grew out of the East

African coastal trade. Spoken

by more than 140 million people

all over East and Central Africa,

“Swahili” now also refers to the

shared culture of people along the

Indian Ocean coast.