Kilimanjaro. Mountain, memory, modernity
François Bart, Milline Jehtro Mbonile, François Devenne (eds), Kilimandjaro. Mountain, memory, modernity, Dar es-Salaam, Mkuki Nyota, 2006, 339 p., ISBN 9789987417995.
Kilimanjaro, at 5,895 metres, is the summit towers over the African continent, yet it lies only 300 kilometres south of the equator. Its sheer volcanic mass stands guard over the entire north of Tanzania, dominating the Kenyan border and reigning majestic over the plains and the plateaux of the two countries.
The snows of Kilimanjaro are the hallmark of the tall, streamlined mountain. From the first explorers onward, it has fascinated one and all. Today’s tourists are drawn there for the same reasons that beckoned the earliest travellers and the missionaries, those vivid depictions of its extraordinary contrasts of hot and cold.
In the heart of the long-inhabited expanses of East Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro is steeped in memory. Its slopes testify to a wealth of climatic episodes, to repeated volcanic activity and to a seemingly endless capacity for growth. Its enviable biodiversity, the kingpin of conservation programs, has been put to the test by demographic pressures and by the demands of the tourist industry. As the emblem of Tanzania and of Africa itself, it also accords identity.
Chagga expertise in water and soil management is legend, but Chagga modernity is just as impressive. The first step toward modernity was coffe production and all that it promised. Today modernity appears in the form of new roads, urban development and tourism. More than ever before, the rooftop is Africa stands ready to welcome the world.