Arusha City was first occupied by Maasai in around 1830. Of course there were no buildings at the time, most Maasai encampments take the form of seasonal shelters built of interwoven sticks. These Bomas, or forts, are centred on a the residence of the head of the tribe, with descending importance of residences radiating out until the encampent’s surrounding fences. Massai are generally cattle and goat herders but The Arusha group also began farming the fertile land in the valleys of the hilly area. The group traded with other local groups and extended their trade network into the are which is now southern Kenya. Arusha had become a trading centre, home to a group known for their business conduct – in many ways this is still the reputation of the region.
In 1896 the area was taken over by a German military force, in response to the murder of two missionaries attempting to settle and convert the population to christianity. The occupation was typified by brutal tactics to subjugate the local population, displacing many residents and forcing others into slave labour. The Germans were ejected in 1916 during WWI. As a result many German administrators, settler/farmers were deported from the area and in 1919 the area fell under the control of the British. While there was less force to the British occupation, and trade was supported, the country was still in many ways under the authority of a foreign power. throughout the years power was gradually handed back to local figures and in the late 50’s the power in the country was in the hands of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), headed by Julius Nyerere after the 1960 election. In 1961 Tanganyika became its own state and in 1964 Tanzania was formed as a union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The signing of these documents was held in Arusha Town.
Arusha, Today and the future:
The city, officially declared in 2006, still retains much of this international weight with further signings in the city and it is the location determined by the UN Security Council for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The tribunl has been in operation for 20 years now and has brought a great deal of traffic to the city in terms of international visitors and the support networks for such a major process. While the Tribunal itself is currently winding down the UN Security Council has established the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, ensuring continuation of Arusha’s international administration duties.
Arusha now remains the major trade centre of northern Tanzania and its close proximity to a great number of the most exciting Safari destinations in Africa means that Tourism is now the major industry in the region, though the mining industry is also a major provider of the countrie’s GDP. Arusha thrives and is growing steadily. The city’s plan (Arusha 2030) is to make the city a modern gem in the region that saw the birth of humanity as a civilisation.