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The History of Dodoma City

Dodoma the capital of Tanzania is located at the center of the Country in Dodoma region. This town is small but rich in tourist attractions which reflect the culture and the nature. While in Dodoma you can visit the local wagogo tribe in the villages located few kilometers from the town center.

What is the History of Dodoma?

The railway station in Dodoma was built in 1910 when a vital railway line running from the port of Dar es Salaam to the strategically important Lake Tanganyika reached the town. Back then Dar es Salaam was the main city of the colony, and Lake Tanganyika on the border with the then-Belgian colony of Congo had high strategic importance. Originally, there was a village of the local Gogo people on the site of modern Dodoma, who traditionally lived on the territories of modern central Tanzania. The Germans founded a small colonial settlement on the basis of that village in 1890. It was the railroad that gave impetus to the development of the city, which grew especially noticeably under British rule.

The idea of moving the capital from the coastal Dar es Salaam, vulnerable to enemy naval attacks, to the center of the colony was first raised in 1916. Dodoma was then seen as a potential capital. Later the same idea was voiced by the British government, which inherited the German colony in East Africa under the Versailles Peace Treaty, which ended World War I. However, they have never implemented this plan.

Once again the Tanzanians themselves returned to the discussion of moving the capital in 1961, after achieving independence from Great Britain. Now the main argument in favor was not the safety of the capital in case of enemy attack, but the need to develop the vast interior of the country, where the distances between settlements were large and the cities experienced slow growth.

Such long conversations that stretch over decades, remind us of the Brazilian example of moving the capital from Rio de Janeiro to the purpose-built Brasilia. The essential difference between the cases of Brazil and Tanzania was that in the end, the South American country managed to implement such a large-scale project in a short time. The similarity is that in both cases it did not go according to plan.

The decision was finally made in 1973 by President Julius Nyerere (whose statue stands at the central square of modern Dodoma). By that time, the city’s population had surpassed 40,000, but there was still plenty of potential for growth. In contrast, the then-capital Dar es Salaam was already overpopulated and had reached the limits of its organic development, putting pressure on the local natural resources.

Dodoma Travel Guide

How to get to Dodoma

There are many daily buses from Dar es Salaam. Driving time is seven to eight hours with a stop in Morogoro. There are plenty options for luxury buses through out the day.  There are buses to and from Arusha via Kondoa to the north. The road is  paved and very comfortable, there are buses all the way to 1:00pm. The highway is known as the Great Northern Highway. Travel time is often in excess of 5 hours, and breakdowns are not common.

There are also buses to and from Iringa. Travel time is about six hours on a winding gravel road of varying quality. The road passes right over the Mtera Dam which is worth a look. Dodoma is situated on the Central Railway Line which goes from Dar Es Salaam to Mwanza or Kigoma.

If you are in a hurry the better choice is by bus. If the train service is running again and you are heading west, train is better, especially in the rainy season. Air Tanzania/ Precision air flies daily with the  between Dodoma and Dar es Salam for 250.000 TSH on Monday and Thursday, also to Mbeya. 

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