Home' Ausmarine : September 2009 Contents So Richardson Devine Marine's hull number 049 is to be a
35-metre tourist vessel designed by Incat Crowther and to be
named 'Kilimanjaro' (Ausmarine July/August 2009).
It will be based at Tanzania's Dar es Salaam and will cross the
channel to Zanzibar after viewing the coastal scenery. Mlima
means a hill and kilima means a little hill. Thus the good ship
'Little Hill Njaro', a touch of African humour.
East Africa was colonised and greatly influenced by the Arabs
both as to Islam and in the language which became slightly
softened often by tacking on the letter "i" here and there.
The people are Swahili from swahil, the Arabic word for coast,
and they speak KiSwahili, which is understood as far west as the
Congo. Dar es Salaam means Haven of Peace and it is a very fine
harbour too. From there, no doubt, the cruise will head north up
the coast. Thirty miles will take you to Bagamoyo town, which
means, "Throw down your heart." It is where in olden times the
slaves sold by their own tribal chiefs to the Arabs would
arrive carrying ivory and rhino horn. It was the last they would see
of Africa before being shipped across to Zanzibar, still Arab-ruled
when I was there, by one Sultan Sayed Khalifa. The old slave
market is a great tourist attraction and I remember it as being filled
with camera-wielding, tut-tutting Chinese tourists.
Zanzibar had one modest, oil-fired coaster named, naturally,
'Sayed Khalifa'. It worked from Pemba Island up north, right down
to Mtwara on the Mozambique border. Captain and mate were
English and the engineer a Scot, naturally. Passenger
accommodation was limited so they shoved me in the Sultan's
suite, which seemed to impress the crew to the point where they
would chat amiably. Halfway across the strait there were quite a
few dugong heads bobbing in the smooth sea.
"Are they good to eat?" I enquired of the steward.
"Oh yes, but first you must take them to the mosque and swear
they haven't been sexually interfered with!"
Zanzibar is famous for its cloves, the heady scent of which
permeates the island in season. Once, when the USSR was doing its
colonial stuff -- money, not people -- it undertook to buy the entire
crop of cloves. At the time, so it was said, somewhere in Russia was
a warehouse crammed to the roof with the stuff and you could
come upwind blindfolded from miles away and still find it.
In 1963/4 there came to Dar es Salaam an African named Field
Marshal Okello, Russian or Chinese-trained we presumed, and
flown in by Tanganyika's new President Julius Nyerere, a mission
lad bent on socialism and five-year plans. The army then revolted,
threw out its British officers and proceeded to riot and settle a few
old scores with Indian and Arab traders. Of course, the president
had to recall the Brits: the 'Ark Royal' carrier steamed into Dar,
fired a rocket into Kolito Barracks guardhouse killing fourteen,
and that was that. The army was disbanded by decree so they all
It was the time when I and three other expats had a brief but
lively discussion over rifle barrels with another mob at the
crossroads hard by Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika, and which led up
to Williamson's diamond mines near Lake Victoria.
But back to our story. Bloody revolution broke out in Zanzibar
following Okello's flow-on visit from Dar es Salaam. As the English
pilot of Tanganyika government's single light aircraft, told me
later, what with Okello and his weighty "luggage" he could barely
get airborne. Arms and ammo, naturally.
As the rioting and killing of Indians and a few Arabs spread,
Sultan Khalifa retreated to his ship and in no time was out in the
channel bound for Mombassa in Kenya. From whence he
disappeared north -- to England, it was said -- and so Uhuru
(freedom) also came to Zanzibar which then combined with
Tanganyika to be named Tanzania.
Afterwards, the 'Sayed Khalifa' was ordered back to Zanzibar
from where it did its usual coastal run for a time. At Dar es Salaam
it took on explosives and so, when steaming into Zanzibar, it
hoisted the usual red flag as regulations demanded. The expelled
Sultan's flag just happened to be red too, and so they were met
with gunfire: nobody was hurt, I was later told.
The new self-appointed President of Zanzibar, a former
deckhand with trade union aspirations, only lasted two months,
when somebody shot him.
As to Kilimanjaro: it should be in Kenya but Queen Victoria
bent the boundary to pass on the northern side and so awarded it
to Kaiser Bill, Tanganyika then being German. Kili is very fertile
and on its slopes dwell wealthy African coffee planters who
screamed and shouted when compelled to plant the stuff by a
former British Ag Officer. Some time afterwards, at an
independence celebration, they flew him back in to be their
Stuart Ballantyne's article, "Daru, a smart move by PNG,"
(Ausmarine, June 2009) certainly grabbed me. Ten years in Papua
New Guinea's fisheries administration enabled me to call Daru
home. It lies, of course, at the mouth of the mighty Fly River,
which, in season, sends tonnes of barramundi downstream to
spawn at sea along the coast toward Saibai and Boigu, close to the
Papuan coast but also part of Queensland.
One would never have thought that a tiny mud patch like
Daru was worth a second glance. The cost of the proposed
transhipping port must be enormous but someone obviously
thinks it's worthwhile.
Since it is not far from there to the notable Australian green
turtle haul-out called Bramble Cay, and because the reefs near Daru
swarm with dugongs, naturally there will be a great outcry from
Some years back there was much oil exploration along the
Papua coast and even in the Fly delta. It seemed to die a natural
death but there were rumours of capped wells, especially in the
Gulf area. There is one very large and swift river flowing into the
Gulf, the name of which escapes me. Is it Purari? Anyway it was
said that it could light up both PNG and Australia with clean,
green hydro-electricity. Maybe there will be more to Daru than
meets the eye.
There once was a mission ship which plied Papua's coastline;
even up the Fly River which has a spectacular tidal bore at times.
This mission ship, complete with bishop aboard, was lying
awkwardly and probably in the wrong place when the bore struck
and it was almost swamped. The bishop struggled on deck only to
find the crew down on their knees praying. Whereupon he roared,
"Pump you blighters, pump! This is no time for prayer!"
A bloke called Craig was once a crocodile hunter out of Daru,
where he lived. He had two or three enormous live crocs in a
pen alongside his salting shed; which probably made the pets a
Anyway, on PNG independence he shipped his crocs south
to be exhibits on Green Island just off Cairns. One died but
two survived being trussed as deck cargo. Probably they are still
to be seen. To me they make the pen wire netting seem just a
wee bit flimsy.
*Grumpy Old Bastard
The Road to Zanzibar
September 2009 AUSMARINE
Links Archive August 2009 October 2009 Navigation Previous Page Next Page