Introduction

The sprawling town of Songea, situated at an altitude of just over 1000m, is capital of the surrounding Ruvuma region and will probably seem like a major metropolis if you’ve just come from Tunduru or Mbamba Bay. Away from the scruffy and crowded central market and bus stand area, it’s a pleasant, attractive place, with shaded leafy streets, surrounded by rolling hill country dotted with yellow sunflowers and grazing cattle. The main ethnic group here is the Ngoni, who migrated into the area from South Africa during the 19th century, subduing many smaller tribes along the way. Songea takes its name from one of their greatest chiefs, who was killed following the Maji Maji rebellion.