Introduction

The slow-paced town of Kilwa Kivinje (Kilwa of the Casuarina Trees) owes its existence to Omani Arabs from Kilwa Kisiwani who set up a base here in the early 19th century following the fall of the Kilwa sultanate. By the mid-19th century the settlement had become the hub of the regional slave-trading network, and by the late 19th century, a German administrative centre. With the abolishment of the slave trade, and German wartime defeats, Kilwa Kivinje’s brief period in the spotlight came to an end. Today, it’s a crumbling, moss-covered and atmospheric relic of the past with a Swahili small-town feel and an intriguing mixture of German colonial and Omani Arab architecture.

In theory, Kivinje can only be visited after arranging a guide in Kilwa Masoko and paying for a permit (Tsh20,000). However, in practice it is usually easy enough to start directly in Kivinje and arrange a guide there.