Liwale Town

Liwale Town

Named after local Miwale palms, Liwale district is a rich tourist attractive site by its history and cool weather combined with active, thrilling nightlife.

A visit to Liwale could be a memorable event not to forget. Located in Lindi region, the district is an upcoming tourist attractive site by its rich history of the Maji Maji wars, cultural heritage and wildlife safaris inside Selous Game Reserve.

Long history of infamous Maji Maji wars and early German occupation in Southern Tanzania is vividly observed in Liwale district and the township.

Most attractive as well is “Cassava cultural heritage”, a culture of the Ngindo communities in honor of cassava, the main food crop grown in the district.

Cassava, a root crop grown in most parts of Tanzania’s coastal zone, is probably, the most revered crop in Liwale where cultural activities are conducted in honour of this famous root crop.

Moses Mkovele, Liwale Social Welfare Officer says, the cassava is part of life among communities in Liwale.

German history in Liwale is an interesting tourist attraction to visitors looking at the past history of Tanzania and Africa. While at Liwale Township, a tourist would get a chance to visit and see several old German buildings, including a “German Boma” or administrative block once occupied by German administrators in the district.

Liwale was the starting point for trophy hunters from other areas of Southern Tanzania going to Selous Game Reserve. Germans were the leading hunting safari makers, starting their safaris from Liwale Township.

Not far from the old German Boma, was a big hanging tree known as “Penga” where seven Ngindo leaders of the Maji Maji war were hanged by German administration.

Among the seven war fighters, was Njumai, a Ngindo warrior who is said to have killed a German Catholic Bishop, Cassian Spiss (OSB) four Sisters and a Brother, all Germans, while on their way from Kilwa to Peramiho in Ruvuma region to spread the Word of God.

There is a rich and interesting history of German occupation in Liwale and the spread of Christianity in this area and the entire Southern Tanzania in early 1900s when most parts of Coastal and Southern Tanzania were rocked by anti-German resistance from locals.

Liwale Cultural Assistant Officer Saidi Mpapulila is well informed about the rich history of Liwale. He says that locals in the area, mostly the Ngindo, stood firmly to oppose German occupation of their land. They fought the Germans during Maji Maji wars, and some of the prominent Ngindo chiefs were captured and hanged on “Penga” tree at a hanging ground in Liwale Township.

A heroes monument has been constructed at the hanging ground to honour the fallen Maji Maji warriors.

He says that Germans had once planned to build their administrative block or Boma at a place known as Barikiwa Ndonde, but declined the plan in favour of the present Liwale Township where this old block is located.

Mpapulila puts the reason that pulled Germans to Liwale Township be availability of fresh water from Livale River, also connected with the name of this town and Miwale palms which abound the area.

Speaking about Njumai, a well known Ngido fighter during the Maji Maji Wars, Mpapulila says that Germans were hated in every corner of Liwale, a reason which attracted many locals including Njumai, to develop hatredness to Germans.

Njumai then killed Bishop Cassian Spiss (OSB), four Catholic Sisters (nuns) and a Brother, all Germans, while on their way from Kilwa to their newly established Catholic Mission at Peramiho, Ruvuma region.

The killings were executed on August 14th, 1905 when the Bishop accompanied by four Sisters and a Catholic Brother were intercepted by Ngindo fighters at Mikukuyumbu, Liwale District.

Despite pleas to spare their lives in defense they were Christian missionaries only armed with a Cross, Njumai speared the Bishop on the neck and killed him before killing the other messengers of God at the same spot.

On hearing the news of the killings of messengers of God, German administration from Kilwa sent a team of soldiers to pick the bodies of the Bishop and other missionaries at Mikukuyumbu on December 28th, 1905 for burial at the present St. Joseph Cathedral in Dar es Salaam.

In retaliation, German administration hunted and captured Njumai whom they chained and hanged together with other six Ngindo warriors.

Bishop Spiss is the founder of the present Peramiho Mission in Songea where he arrived from Zanzibar at the end of July 1898 to establish a Catholic church, the first Christian faith house in Ruvuma region.

Liwale is as well a cultural rich area where local tribes take part to solidify their unity and identity. Among such interesting cultural activity is Ngende, a traditional caravan by Ngindo communities to appease their spirits.

Ngende, according to elders in Liwale, is a caravan of more than 400 men, women and children who trek across the Selous Game Reserve to Ilonga in Ulanga district (Morogoro) for rituals and sacrifices.

Ngende caravan is organized between August 15th and September 15th, starting from Liwale to Ilonga, a movement which takes between five and seven days of fast walking before reaching the final destination in Ulanga district.

Like Hajj Caravan, this traditional trek is meant to seek fortunes, treatment to the sick, children for the barren women or any other gift to the people from Ngende spirits.

Liwale Township is a sprawling town in Real South, attracting a number of visitors. Bars, nightclubs and eating out places dominate the nightlife here.

There is a good number of guest houses, among the best ones are Liwale Guest House, Wamo Guest House, Mangota Guest House, Lingame Village Inn and Twiga Guest House.

Others are Banana Guest House, Kinderu Guest House and Tumaini Mnarani Lodge. There are frequent buses from Dar es Salaam and Lindi to Liwal, available on daily basis. 

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