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Tongoni is a small fishing village 17km south of Tanga
Tanga is both the name of the most northerly seaport city of Tanzania, and the surrounding Tanga Region. It is the Regional Headquarters of the region.With a population of 243,580 in 2002, Tanga is one of the largest cities in the country...
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...
. It is famous for the 15th Century ruins of a mosque and forty tombs that are found in the village. Tongoni was a different place four to five centuries ago. Contrary to its almost unnoticed presence today, it was a prosperous and a respected trading centre during the 15th Century.
One tradition claims that Tongoni was established by the Shirazi people (people of Persian-origin), who established many Islamic settlements in Eastern Africa such as Kilwa and Mafia. There are also claims that the settlement of Tongoni was once dominated by the Wadebuli tribe, believed to be of Asiatic-origin, coming from Dabhol, off the West Coast of India. Dhabol was a seaport in the 15th Century belonging to the Bahmani rulers of the Deccan. The Bahmani had extensive trading links with Kilwa, then the largest trading centre in East Africa.
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India...
, the Portuguese sailor, first visited Tongoni in April 1498. He had the opportunity to eat the local oranges, which he said were better than those available in Portugal. He made a second visit the following year, and spent fifteen days in Tongoni.
The ruins at Tongoni are under the Antiquities department. The ruins are open to the public but there have been no Phase III excavations. Decades ago, a small test excavation was conducted at the site and a site plan was drawn. In 2006, an American archaeologist conducted additional test excavations and mapped the site using modern methods of site survey. A resident guide, Mr. Job Tengamaso is available to show visitors around. A more recent ruin of a mosque (of about one hundred years) at the other end of the village, on the beach, can also be visited.