By: Felipe Argote
The legend of a snow mountain in the middle of Africa was often denounced as myth by the Europeans, despite the fact that for many years it was in the passageway of caravans of slaves from Central Africa to Zanzibar, which was its intermediate destination. Zanzibar in Persian means the coast of the blacks or also known as the Moluccas, an island species.
But the comments did not stop to listen. The stories of those from Unguja and Pemba islands located off the east coast of Africa, where from the twelfth to the nineteenth centralized thousands of slaves who were hunted like animals by the Arab traders then by the Persians and later by the British. These stories tell of a great mountain that rose above the clouds and inhabited in her skirts for the terrible cannibal of the Chagga tribe.
Much earlier, in the second century BC, the Greek astronomer Ptolemy referred to a mysterious place in southern Somalia inhabited by cannibals and a snowy mountain. Then in the twelfth century Chinese traders refer to a large mountain west of Zanzibar.
Not until 170 years ago when William Cogley and other British explorers will internalize this part of Africa in search of the source of the Nile, which refer to the existence of this great mountain snow in the middle of the jungle. Johannes Rebbman Two years later, a German missionary heard about the existence of this huge mountain and decided to look for it. He obtained a permit under the guise of wanting to find new locations for Christian missions. Two weeks into the voyage locates the mount called Chagga. This is what he wrote:
"This morning we saw the Mountains of Jagga more clearly than ever at ten o'clock I saw on the summit a dazzling white cloud. My guide tells me that the white which I see is simply "cool" that makes me understand clearly that there could be no other thing than snow. "
After many attempts by various groups of Hungarians, Germans and British to climb the top of Kilimanjaro it was reached only on 6 October 1889, 120 years ago, guided by the participation of Chagga tribesman Yohana Lawd, together with the German Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller. Yohana De Lawd is said to have died in 1997 aged 127 years old.
Kilimanjaro is a volcano with three craters: Kibo (hope in Chagga), Mawenzi (5149 m) east and Shira west. The Kibo main summit is 2500 meters in diameter. Its last eruption was 360.000 years ago. The interesting thing about this stratovolcano is the contrast between their great elevation of 5,895 meters crowned by a massive glacier in the middle of the African plains with a hot tropical climate of the country of Tanzania, the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. In fact the word Tanzania is a union of the names of its two components who join in 1964.
Currently the glacier is disappearing very quickly. It is estimated that in 1900 added up to a twelve square kilometers area. But now occupies only 2 square kilometers. At this rate is very likely to disappear in one hundred and ten years. The global warming does not seem enough to develop this trend. It is believed that possibly is due to a slow awakening of this colossus as evidenced by the existence of vents that can be seen occasionally arising.
We may be one of the last generations that can attest to the existence of a snowy mountain in the middle of the African jungle of Tanzania, the country where the famous singer Farrokh Bulsara bommie was born Hw was better known by his pseudonym Freddie Mercury, the Queen band leader who died of AIDS in 1991.