Where is Luhombero?
The village of Luhombero is not near Luhombero Mountain, much further to the north. If you google the word Luhombero, you’ll find lots of entries regarding the peak; but this is the only site, as of 2017, about the village.
To reach the East African village of Luhombero, it’s a two-day journey by road from Dar es Salaam, a teeming, hazardous city of five million people that serves as the coastal capital of Tanzania.
Guidebooks advise foreigners not to take the bus; so hiring a driver is the most sensible option. The only alternative is an inordinately expensive flight via a less-than-reliable prop plane from Dar es Salaam airport to Ifakara.
The journey from Dar es Salaam to the interior city of Morogoro takes far longer than one would imagine by looking at a map due to mind-boggling traffic jams amid bumper-to-bumpers lorries, many spewing black smoke.
From Mikumi National Park, it’s still about another four-hour, jolting drive south from Ifakara, via the village of Lupiro, to Mahenge. Until 2017, the lack of a bridge across the Morogoro River had effectively limited tourism to this region.
From the sometimes chilly heights of Mahenge, the poor excuse for a road deteriorates into a dirt venue pock-marked with craters. The last store can be found in the village of Mwaya, located a half-hour away from the end of road at Luhombero.
There is currently no accommodation for visitors other than the parish house. There is an infrequent bus service between Mahenge and Luhombero. But the village lacked any vehicle to respond to any need for emergency transport, until recently when, thanks to the generosity of donors, we were able to provide the village with a pick up truck.
What’s the population?
When Father Placid Kindata was sent to Luhombero in 2016, there were approximately 5,000 people in the surrounding area from the Pogolo, Ngindo and Ndwewe tribes. He later discovered the rarely-contacted, nomadic Sukuma people for whom he has commenced a 100-acre farming project to grow nuts and the creation of a kindergarten.
“These Sukuma people are very disadvantaged,” he says, “particularly when it comes to infrastructures. This is why I am helping them start a kindergarten. Most of them are neither Moslems nor Christians. Generally, they are best-known for keeping cows and goats. This makes them different from the rest of the population, so they must keep to themselves.”