Who “created” Tanzania?

MANY people may know that TANZANIA is a proper name of a country in East Africa. But few know who coined the name.

While then Tanganyika President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Zanzibar President Abeid Amani Karume are known for uniting their two states to form the United Republic of Tanzania, few know that the two leaders never actually created the name for the new country.

Of course, “TAN” represents Tanganyika, “ZAN” represents Zanzibar. Then two letters – “IA” were added to form “TANZANIA.”

It was a creative work of a then young boy of 18 years in 1964. Now, he is an old man living in Birmingham, UK. His name is Mohammed Iqbal Dar.

He created the name “Tanzania” as a clipped combination of “Tanganyika and Zanzibar.”

The name “Tanganyika” is derived from the Swahili  words tanga (“sail”) and nyika (“uninhabited plain”, “wilderness”) literally creating the phrase “sail in the wilderness”.

The name of Zanzibar comes from “zenji”, the name for a local people (said to mean “black”), and the Arabic word “bar”, which means coast or shore. So, Zanzibar literally means “the land of black people.”

Iqbal artistically created the name Tanzania in 1964 when Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, through The Nationalist newspaper, now Daily News, advertised an artistic competition to find a nice name for the new country that was being “born” from the union on 26th April 1964.

SAUTI KUBWA understands that Iqbal was awarded Tanzania Shillings 200 and a recognition by the government. Idrisa Abdul Wakil, then Home Affairs Minister who later become Zanzibar’s President, handed the cheque and trophy to Iqbal.

History shows that 80 citizens participated in the competition, and Iqbal was declared winner.

Mohammed Iqbal who was born in 1944 in Tabora.