Not always the middle of nowhere

I discovered this week that once upon a time the Outpost held a position of great importance.

The Arabs founded it, as a centre of trading – slaves and ivory – and enjoyed enormous wealth as a consequence. Most came from Oman and called their new home Kazeh. The Germans assumed control of the region in the late 19th century and made the town, which they renamed Weidmannsheil, an administrative centre for the Protectorate. Whipped by the Brits during the East African Campaign of WWI, they retreated but not before they’d minted a sovereign from local gold which is reputed to be the most beautiful seige coin ever minted. Few remain in existence. Those that do (one or two on Ebay) fetch as much as $10,000 at auction. Their value at the time was 15 Rupees.

By 1920 Tabora, as the Outpost became widely known then as it is now (except by me, on bad days, when it’s Bloodytabora) was the most populous town in then Tanganyika, with more inhabitants than Dar es Salaam, on the coast.

Who’d have thought it? Certainly not any of the tourists who drop in on their way to luxury camps in the west. As their light aircraft refuel on the small dirt strip they clamber out to stretch their legs, I have watched them. And overheard their observations.

Where the hell are we?

Dunno. Looks like the middle of nowhere.

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