the Kilimanjaro got its name
Dating back to the days when Johannes
Rebmann (1820-76) stumbled on Mount Kilimanjaro
in 1848, theres been much speculation
on the origin of the name, some suggesting
it meant Shiny Mountain, Great
Mountain, or some such!
In those days,
snow on the mountain started at around
14,000ft above sea level, going up to
the gods in the skies: 19,340ft (5,895m
OD). No wonder the Kili the highest
peak in Africa is oftentimes referred
to as the Roof of Africa.
also the highest stand-alone mountain
in the world. Indeed, therere scores
of other peaks which stand much
taller, including the tallest,
the Everest in Asias Himalayas (29,028
feet). But theyre all part of mountain
ranges dozens of them not
single, isolated/stand-alone peaks...
not the story here today...
The Kilimanjaro was volcanically thrust
slap-bang into the collective lap (so
to speak) of the Chagga people this side
of the border with Kenya. In olden times,
the Chagga used to travel hither and thither
in search of sustenance to keep body and
They were also
journeying from here to there, perhaps
on the warpath to raid other tribes, or
escape from raiders. The ki-Chagga word
for this is Kyaro.
But, with the formidable
mountain standing in their way (to, say,
Kenya), they saw that as a formidable
barrier (Kilema) to their escapades. It
was also difficult/impossible to climb
up (Idro in ki-Chagga) the
densely-forested, wildlife-infested, scraggy
and heavy-snowed terrain to the top...
Hence the term Kilema-Kyaro,
Kilelema-Kyaro, and Kilema/Kilelema-Idro...
what do you call that? Kilema-Kyaro,
Kilema-Idro, the Chaggas retorted.
The foreigners couldnt wrap their
tongue round those terms corrupting
them into Kilima-Ndscharo
in German. The rest is, of course, history,
down to Kilimanjaro today!
In this, I draw
support from another phenomenon: the hilly
road to the German headquarters in what
later became Old Moshi after
the Brits took over Tanganyika
from the former. Traversing that road
from what later became New Moshi
(Nomoshi in ki-Chagga) in
the mosquito-infested lowlands to the
German headquarters in Old Moshi was an
uphill task for the donkeys and asses
that were common transport under German
rule. Halfway up the road, the caravan
commanders ordered a pause
to rest the beasts of burden before struggling
up the road again.
The road became
known as Kilema-Punda to this
day, as many of the beasts collapsed on
it out of breath and exhaustion. So, juxtaposed
cheek-by-jowl with each other, Kilema-Kyaro
and Kilema-Punda remain steeped
Oh, one other thing: my father
in his teens early in the 20th Century
CE and living in Old Moshi so marvelled
at the call to PAUSE along Kilema-Punda
that he later named one of his sons Pause!
Dr Peters (1856-1918) - - a.k.a Mkono-wa-Damu
(the man with the blood-stained hands)
the German colonial usurper who
became Deutsch-Ostafrika Commissioner
in 1891, with Kilimanjaro as his Hdqrs.