Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lushoto: A Tanzanian Town

I wish I could write a fitting tribute to Lushoto, a small town nestled in the Usambara mountains of northeastern Tanzania. Though small, Lushoto is quite well known, in Tanzania and beyond.

I have visited this town several times, mostly to research local folklore about Osale Otanga and Paulo Hamisi, famous outlaws who operated in this area in the 1950s. Still, I like this town so much that I would come for any other reason.

This region attracts tourists from around the world, and there are several programs here dealing with tourism.

Downtown Lushoto is a hub of activity. The market is here, the bus stop, stores, and other businesses.

There are many places to stay, and new ones keep coming up. This year, I stayed in this hotel, near the District Office.

This church, just across the road from the police station, has become for me a kind of icon.

A walk in downtown Lushoto is refreshing, because of the cool climate and minimal traffic.

Whenever I am here, I seek vantage points from which to enjoy a panoramic view, the rich blend of trees of different kinds, houses, hills, the cloud-laden skies. I enjoy the peace and quiet, and wonder if anyone can ever tire of visiting this place.


o'Wambura Ng'wanambiti! said...

Prof., this place is very nice. I am determined to get sometime to visit it!

Mbele said...

I had planned to write another blog post, about tourism in Lushoto. It will show, a little more, the magic of Lushoto.

Unknown said...

Bwana professor!
I read your blog about my old "hometown" Lushoto with great interest. My parents were missionaries at Vuga in the Usambara Mts from 1946-1957 and Lushoto was our main shopping town, post office, etc. I was there again to visit in 2007.
I remember the Osale Otango affair very well! I remember how we were all afraid until the police caught and killed him together with his young Sambaa follower, Paulo. In fact, I wrote a long article about this affair for our school newspaper in about 1956!
I have been in contact with an Asian fellow, a Pakistani, whose father served under the colonial police administration. This man's father was involved in the hunt for and the capture of Osale Otango and he has some old pictures from that time...
Email me an I will send you his contact information.
Yes, Lushoto, and the whole of the Usambara is like a little "Switzerland" of Africa. That is what the wazungu called it in the old days... It was very popular for vacation/leave for many British and other wazungu who were posted in much hotter and drier places for their jobs. It continues to attract a lot of young, vigorous tourists to do hiking and even biking safari's in the mountains, using the services of young Tanzanian guides through the cultural tourist office in Lushoto. It is one of the oldest and most successful in all of Tanzania!
Paul Bolstad

Mbele said...

Dear Mr. Bolstad
I am truly delighted to read your message, and grateful that I mentioned Osale in my blog post. The information you have presented is invaluable, and I will pursue those leads. Thank you very much.

Iddi Washokera said...

Prof. may I know if you have completed your research on Osale Otango and Paulo Hamisi and how do I get it? I am interested.

Mbele said...

Hello Iddi, thanks for your question. Over the years, in the course of my research, people have been asking me similar questions. For example, some have asked whether I completed my research on the Sukuma tradition about Ng'wanamalundi, which I started in 1993.

I have a different perspective on these matters. I believe that we can never complete research on a topic. All we can do is gain some knolwedge about the complexity of the issue. Every new thing we find can be or should be the starting point of more research. Every answer easily turns out to be a new research question.

The more I have learned about Osale Otango and Paulo Hamisi, the more I have desired to pursue the topic. That is what I am doing. I have not even dared to publish a paper, even though I am willing to lecture about the research. For example, a few years ago, I gave such a lecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

However, after the field work I plan to conduct this year and next year, I do want to write and publish something. If you are interested, you can begin by reading my publications on epics and epic heroes. These will provide you with a sense of how I got into the Osale Otango and Paulo Hamisi issue, and also a sense of how this work relates to my previous work.