Introduction

Masasi, a district centre and the birthplace of former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, stretches out along the main road off the edge of the Makonde Plateau against a backdrop of granite hills. It’s a potentially useful stop for those travelling to or from Mozambique via the Unity Bridge. The history of the modern settlement dates from the late 19th century, when the Anglican Universities’ Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) came from Zanzibar Island to establish a settlement of former slaves here. Today it’s notable primarily as a transport hub for onward travel west towards Tunduru, or north to Nachingwea and Liwale. About 40km northeast of Masasi, just off the main road, is the large Benedictine monastery of Ndanda, founded by German missionaries in 1906. Adjoining is a hospital, which serves as the major health clinic for the surrounding region.