6 Days Mt Kilimanjaro Hike (Machame Route)

Meaning of Kilimanjaro

Meaning of Kilimanjaro

Meaning of Kilimanjaro: Kilamanjaro, Killimanjaro, Kilimandzaro – what’s the meaning and origin of the name Kilimanjaro?

When you Google or search the internet for Kilimanjaro you will realize that there are several words used to imply the Kilimanjaro mountain.

Why all these names? It’s true that most of them are spelling mistakes like Kilimandzaro, this is how it  is pronounced in languages like Polish.

With all the variations it is important to look at how this mountain came to be named this and the meaning of the name.

Meaning of Kilimanjaro

Kilamanjaro vs Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro is also known as the Roof of Africa but the real origin of the name Kilimanjaro is not known. The early explorers by 1860 where calling this mountain Kilimanjaro saying it was the meaning of a mountain in Kiswahili one of the local languages.

Johann Ludwig Krapf, a German explore who is was among the first people to reach the summit wrote that Kilimanjaro was a name used by the original Swahili people to mean ‘mountain of greatness’, with ‘Kilima’ meaning mountain.

The confusion by the Europeans about the meaning of the Kiswahili words ‘Kilima’ meaning ‘hill’, and ‘Milima’ to mean ‘mountain’ is believed to have been the basis of this derivation.

Other theorists have suggested that Kilimanjaro comes from the Kichagga one of the local tribes around the area ‘kileme’ meaning ‘defeat’, or ‘kilelema’ relating to ‘difficulty’ or ‘impossibility’.

In the 1880 when the Germans were in control of Tanzania, they called this mountain ‘Kilima-Ndscharo’ using the Kiswahili name component.

When Hans Meyer, a German geographer, became one of the first Europeans to reach the summit on Kibo he named it ‘Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze’ (Kaiser-Wilhelm-Peak’).

When Tanzania gained independence, the authorities decided to name the tallest peak UHURU to mean “Freedom”

So when you see a funny spellings of Kilimanjaro like Kilamanjaro or Killimanjaro, remember that the meaning of Kilimanjaro has a long and complex history.

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