Today we have Part One of Safari Mike's look at the backstory of Harambe, the mythical East African Port town at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Harambe means "working together" and that is exactly the message that is the core of the story of this mythical east African port. It is the story of the people working with, not against, the animals to carve out livelihoods. You play the role of a tourist who has come to Old Town to enjoy the markets and hotels, and for the most part will be partaking in photographic safaris as opposed to hunting safaris as in the past. For a "list" of these safaris check out the Tusker House at the Safari Orientation Centre, spelled the British way, to reflect the colonial heritage. The safari center sits next to the open air market, which is now the buffet stations of the Tusker House. Although there are quite a few safaris listed, only 2, are truly available.
What you see in the park is the Old Town. The metropolis of New Town is located "up the road" and is not accessible to guests. But that's ok, to learn of the history and culture of Harambe, one needs to be in Old Town which was influenced not only by the native culture but several colonial powers. But before we talk about the current Harambe its important to reflect on the past. Like so much of Africa, Harambe's character was formed in part from its colonial heritage. It was a major trading post in the early 1500s, used by Europeans to trade gold, ivory and spices.
Harambe, built in 1420 (look for the sign referencing this date), is located on the the Uvumbuzi River, which translates to Discovery River, the name Disney has given the body of water that surrounds the Tree of Life. The river leads to the Indian ocean not far away. So close in fact that early colonial powers built a fort to protect their interests from pirates and other potential enemies. The remnants of the fort can be seen throughout the town. Walking into Harambe, one must traverse old Sokoni Road, the main drag. As you enter the town, look down and you will see white markings. This designates the site of the main wall and gates of the fortress. All that is left of the main tower of the fort is what is now Tamu Tamu. The seating behind the eatery is husk of the burnt tower.
Independence was achieved in 1961. This was demonstrated by a simple stone bench marked with the phrase "Uhuru 1961" which means Freedom 1961. The bench has been removed with recent construction but will hopefully return soon. Other small stone pillars are engraved "Harambe 1961," celebrating the peaceful transfer of power to the local population.
by Safari Mike (twitter: @JamboEveryone)