- Published on Monday, 06 August 2012 02:25
- Written by MARC NKWAME
- Hits: 1209
This August, Moshi town marks its 120th year since it was established. This century plus two decades milestone happens to coincide with the 2012 National Population Census.
Covering just 59 square kilometers, Moshi, which is the administrative capital for Kilimanjaro region should also be the smallest Municipality in Tanzania as far as area is concerned despite being much older than most urban centers in the country. But Moshi is the second best planned urban center after Tanga (Which has grown to become a City) and is being described as the cleanest town, a fact which is being contested by people who knows the Municipality well.
Moshi is growing, albeit slowly, and at the population of 206,730 as per year 2011 estimates the urban center still requires a boost in the number of its people if the town is to attain its proposed but highly coveted ‘City,’ status by 2016 as currently projected. Moshi used to be the most vibrant commercial hub in the Northern Zone during the 60s, 70s and early 80s.
These were the times when cross-border trade with Kenya via the Tarakea-Oloitokitok and Holili-Taveta boundaries were at their peak. It was also the golden days of profitable coffee farming and the then highly paying cash crop further reinforced Moshi’s position as being the main economic wheeler for the Northern Zone, totally overshadowing Arusha which at the moment seems to be enjoying the limelight.
The town’s history began when the colonial Germany rule established a military camp in the area which later became Moshi. This happened around this time in August 1893, (some 120 year ago). In other words Moshi came to life seven years before Arusha town was conceived. Moshi attained township status in 1956 eight years after its neighbor Arusha was declared township (1948). Moshi also became a Municipality In 1988, again this was eight years after Arusha, which attained its municipality status in 1980.
Hoping to become a ‘City,’ four years from now, Moshi is divided administratively into 21 wards and then subdivided into 60 villages and in recent years the Municipality’s annual budget has been averaging at around 18.5 bn/- in the wake of frozen trade, dying factories and slump in Kilimanjaro’s coffee production.
At the moment, Moshi Municipality like other districts, is currently busy preparing for the National Population and Settlement Census slated for the 25th of August 2012, some ten years since the last counting exercise which documented that Moshi had a population of 144,739 in the year 2002. Apparently the minimum number of people if a town is to be considered for higher ‘City,’status as per international standards should be at least 450,000.
Too bad that, the National Census Exercise takes record of people who spent the night of the count within the town,
in this case it is only the people who will be in Moshi on the night of Saturday 25th, this year. The catch here is that, Moshi happens to be a town which comes alive in the morning and fades into deserted area by dusk when 80 percent of its daytime population vacates the municipality, returning to their rural settlements in the highland perched villages.
Moshi’s population and its related traffic gets a boost as the year comes to an end when tens of thousands of the people who hail from Kilimanjaro, travel from all around the country and globe for their legendary annual ‘Christmas and New year,’pilgrimage to rekindle their family roots’ connections. If the census people were kind enough to conduct the counting next December, and during daylight it is very possible that Moshi’s population would end up being higher than Arusha (which is now over half-amillion).
Last week, nearly 150 journalists from Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Tanga, Manyara, Morogoro and Coastal regions gathered in Moshi where they underwent special training in the preparations for the forthcoming census. The Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner Mr Leonidas Gama emphasized the importance of local scribes using all their tools of work to mobilize, encourage and educate the mass on the significance of the Nationwide Counting Exercise.
Mr Gama did not mince words in describing how this year’s census was for the first time experiencing controversies as different groups were coming up with complications likely to stifle the efforts and split the nation on basis of religious, political or social factions. But Moshi will be the last place where the Census exercise is likely to run into problems. It is a town where every person is ‘educated.’ Recent studies indicate that Moshi urban district has the highest literacy rate for persons over 15 years of age when compared to any of the 128 other districts in Tanzania.