Grave of imam out of place in Dar city centre

Friday July 01 2022

The century-old grave of the imam in Dar es Salaam. PHOTO | EMMANUEL ONYANGO | NMG


In downtown Dar es Salaam, between Samora Avenue and India Street, lies an old recreation garden that was set up by the German colonial government in 1890.

In the corner of the garden is a tiled, unmarked grave, believed to be more than 170 years old.

According to Benard Msofe, a curator at the Dar es Salaam City Council for Architectural Heritage — a tourist information unit — the grave is the burial place of the first imam in Dar es Salaam during the Arab reign along the east coast of Africa.

Sharif Abdushakur Salim Al Attas was buried in front of a mosque that was later pulled down by German colonial powers while constructing the city. Msofe said the operation involved redesigning of streets and the construction of offices along Samora and Sokoine Drive.

The mosque was the first to be constructed on the mainland by the Arab rulers of the Sultanate of Zanzibar in 1856 during the reign of Sultan Sayid Majid bin Said Al-Busaid. Later, German governor Hermann Von Wissmann agreed to build another mosque at Kitumbini, but did not relocate the grave

Other graves nearby were relocated to pave the way for town planning. Although it lies in the middle of a recreation centre, no one is allowed to sit on the grave.